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The Meowmorphosis (Quirk Classics) Paperback – May 10, 2011
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From the Publisher
“Highly recommended for connoisseurs of the bizarre.”—Publishers Weekly
“Takes meta-fiction to dizzying new heights.”—The Huffington Post
About the Author
Franz Kafka is one of the 20th century's most influential authors. His novella "The Metamorphosis" and his novels The Trial and The Castle are regarded among the most original works of modern Western literature. Coleridge Cook, writing under a different name, is a beloved fantasy novelist and blogger as well as the winner of several prestigious literary awards.
Top customer reviews
The end that Samsa finds would seem more deserved were he, as in The Metamorphosis, a(n) insect/bug/vermin/monster (Ungeziefer, auf Deutsch). A kitten, an adorable one no less, should have been-- adored. I spent the first half of the book awaiting the family's realization that Samsa deserved to be cuddled and petted. I waited in vain, for the best they have for him is disdain and approbation. And that is the point of the exercise.
Samsa seemingly escapes this living death by entering into the world of cats. But in Cat Court he is tried, convicted and sentenced to return to his family life. Were he worthy of catdom, he would have defended himself to the other cats. He would have summoned all the dignity that makes a cat a cat. He would have gone forth denying the court's jurisdiction and affirming that whatever had occurred before, he was now a cat and thus beyond judgment, even by other cats. Alas, he is essentially lacking, and can only return to his family. After his return, the family's attitude toward Samsa becomes openly hostile and violent, and that is that. One is free to make what one will of such a work.
I was disappointed in that Meowmorphosis was little besides retelling. So much more were possible, had Coleridge brought fresh ideas to the story. Capturing the soul sucking effect of the original by remaining true to its text, he neglects to recast the story in a more contemporary idiom. There is a missed opportunity to look at Samsa and his situation in a new light and find some other fate, if only a different doom, for him. Even with Samsa still doomed, deeper exploration of the characters of the story, the thinking and alternatives behind Samsa's eventual decision, and of the attitudes of the others would have made Meowmorphosis far better than it was.
I *like* the Quirk classics; I liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and I liked Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Having a soft spot for The Metamorphosis, I fully expected to like The Meowmorphosis... and I did! Until the halfway point when suddenly everything went horribly wrong.
The Metamorphosis is a classic tale of a young man who wakes one morning to find that he has changed into a gruesome insect creature. His family, who previously depended on him entirely for their livelihood, react with varying degrees of kindness, revulsion, and hostility to Gregor in his new form. As Gregor spirals into madness and depression, and as his family become more cruel to him, he finally dies to serve them. The novel is incredibly depressing, but a powerful look at family dynamics and how they can change depending on who is the provider and who is the dependent.
The Meowmorphosis starts out great by staying true to the Quirk format: the story is the same, but with a few key differences; namely Gregor is now a kitten instead of a disgusting insect. Cute! And this set-up works incredibly well; I was fully prepared to give the book 5 stars while reading this part. The sadness and depression that Gregor suffers through his transformation juxtaposes nicely with the fluffy kitten material and it's all very delightful.
About halfway through the novel, however, the author completely abandons Kafka's premise and sets off on his own. Gregor escapes the house and joins a cadre of cats on the street, and these cats are impossibly long-winded and pompous. There are pages and pages of text that feel more like filler than anything else, and all I can say when the author criticizes German writing for being ponderous, that people who live in glass houses shouldn't write dull, monotonous filler dialogue. I suppose it's meant to be parody, but sacrificing the reader's enjoyment of the text to make a point seems detrimental to me.
When the novel then starts throwing in references to the original source text by claiming -- and I *think* I have this correctly -- that the "anxious dreams" that all the men-cats had prior to their transformation was a dream of a man turned to a cockroach, I gave up. The people in The Meowmorphosis dream about The Metamorphosis. It's layers upon layers, but since it's all conveyed in huge, deliberately wordy blocks of dialogue, it just couldn't hold my interest.
Two stars for the awesome beginning, which I will treasure. No stars for the massive mood shift halfway that caused me to give up in frustration.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.
~ Ana Mardoll