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Book Review: The Meowmorphosis by Franz Kafka and Coleridge Cook

September 13, 2011 5 comments

Cat head in suit.Summary:
Gregor Samsa goes to bed and wakes up as an adorable snuggly kitten!  He has trouble making up his mind about anything, though, and is easily distracted by things like dust and canned fish.  Plus, his family clearly are not cat people.

Review:
This is the first Quirk Classic that I’ve read, mainly because all the others were based on classics I don’t like to start with (Jane Austen and Anna Karenina).  However, “The Metamorphosis” is one of my faaaavorite short stories.  Although, I will always insist that Gregor woke up as a grasshopper, not a cockroach.  (I was the only one in my AP English class who thought this.  Whatever).  In spite of its (epically awesome win) name, this actually also incorporates another Kafka story “The Trial,” which I have not read.  Anyway, when this came up as an EarlyReviewer I obviously needed to have a copy.

The main problem with reworking “The Metamorphosis” to be a cat is that, well, cats are adorable and playful and perfectly normal household cats whereas a giant insect is not.  A lot of the depression, ennui, and conflict in the original story comes from Gregor being an insect.  While Cook does a good job showing the internal workings of a cat brain to go with their adorably quirky behavior, the actions of the family are less understandable.  What is up with this family hating on their adorable son?  Why do they lock him away in a room?  What is up with that?  Of course this gets addressed later when Gregor grows to a disturbingly large size and can barely move around.  I couldn’t help but think of that obese cat that was on the news last year.  However, at that point he was sort of just becoming the monster they were treating him as.  Ok, I just read what I wrote, and quite possibly that is the point of the story.  However, while reading it, it certainly bogged me down.

I also have to say that I didn’t like the illustrations that went with the story.  Somehow, the illustrator actually managed to make pictures of cats that I didn’t squee over.  There’s something wrong with that picture.

Overall I’d say that I don’t feel like I wasted my time reading this, per se, but I also sort of wish I’d just re-read “The Metamorphosis” and hunted down a copy of “The Trial.”  As someone who can be a bit of an emo reader at times, nothing beats Kafka’s brand of ennui and depression.  Why brighten it up with a kitty?  Just…..why?

I’d recommend this book to that odd juxtaposition of reader who loves depressing European lit and doesn’t mind it being brightened up by an adorable kitty.  I think only you will know if that describes you.

3 out of 5 stars

Source:  Free copy from the publisher via LibraryThing’s EarlyReviewers in exchange for my honest review

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5 Year Old Me and a Bag of Kitten Food (Virtual Advent Tour 2009)

December 23, 2009 12 comments

I decided to participate in the Virtual Advent Tour in which bloggers sign up for a day of the advent calendar to feature a holiday-centric post.  So, happy 23rd day everyone and welcome!  On to the post.

I grew up in rural Vermont with a brother 5 years older than me and my two working class, highly religious parents.  Since my parents were very serious about their Christianity, to the point that I was homeschooled until the 6th grade, Christmas was a big freaking deal.  Jesus being born was the fulfillment of many prophecies.  Without Jesus’s birth, there’d be no Easter and without Easter we’d have no hope at all.  Jesus’s birth was second only to Jesus’s death and resurrection, and that was only first because the Second Coming hadn’t happened yet.  Therefore, Christmas was one busy season for us.  I’m talking Advent Calendars, baking multiple goodies from scratch, multiple must watch specials and movies, two extended family gatherings, candlelight services, special church performances, and more.  Of course, me being a kid, the only truly important part of Christmas was the presents Christmas morning.  Although, you’d be hard-pressed to get me to admit it, and I would fervently state how much I enjoyed the family reading of the Christmas story from Luke between stockings and presents.

Since my parents fervently believed telling us that Santa was real was akin to telling us Muhammed was right, presents were gradually placed under the Christmas tree, and we weren’t allowed to touch them.  This led to hours of me sitting on the rug in front of the tree pining and wondering erm, *ahem* reading a book.  My brother and I became experts at determining what a present was just by its shape or determining what awesome present the unwrapped accessories under the tree went to.

Every year pretty much from the time I could talk, I asked for a kitty.  We had a dog, Beuaregard, but all I wanted was a kitty to snuggle and to feel purring on my feet when I slept.  Dolls shmolls, I wanted a kitty.  One December morning, when I was (I believe 5, definitely before I was 7) I came into the living room and came to a dead stand-still.  All you needed was to turn me to salt, and I’d be doing the perfect impression of Lot’s wife.  There under the Christmas tree was a bag of kitten food.  My heart raced and I did my best not to shreek in sheer joy, because a family rule of Christmas was if we guessed a present prior to Christmas morning, we weren’t allowed to have it.  It was the veritable don’t ask, don’t tell of holidays.  My mom wasn’t big into giving us what we wanted, she thought it’d be spoiling us, but my dad.  My dad always wanted to give us exactly what we wanted, and I was certain this bag of kitten food was his way of telling me that I’d have my kitty in a few short weeks.

Christmas morning came, and I impatiently went through the stockings and the reading of the Christmas story.  Present opening started, which was always a slow ordeal as we opened them one at a time while everyone watched.  My first present was not a kitty.  Ok.  So they were waiting to give it to me last knowing what a ruckus it’d cause.  I could wait.  Gradually all the presents were gone from under the tree.  Only the never-wrapped chocolate covered cherries and kitten food were left.

“Isn’t there something more?” I asked, as my parents got up to get some coffee.  My mom’s mouth opened to go into her ungrateful speech, but my dad cut her off asking, “Why do you think there’s something more?”

I pointed at the kitten food, “Well, there’s that bag of food there.”

“Oh, that’s a treat for the dog.  He loves cat food.”

No.  My dad had to be kidding.  He was a big teaser.  “What?”

“The dog loves cat food.”  At this point, my mom started tapping my dad on the arm, and recognition dawned on the two of them as I started to wail, “You mean I’m not getting a kitten?!”

According to family lore, I was inconsolable the entire day and crying a good portion of it.

Merry Christmas, everyone! May your day be filled with kitten-like presents.