What’s new Pussycat? – “The Meowmorphosis” by Franz Kafka and Coleridge Cook
Franz Kafka’s 1915 classic “The Metamorphosis” was the story of a young man – Gregor Samsa – who awakened one morning to find himself turned into a giant insect. The book is widely discussed and read in schools and years of debate have raged about exactly what sort of insect Samsa becomes. (Vladimir Nabokov, for example, was adamant that Samsa did not become a cockroach, but rather a large beetle.)
Those clever brains at Quirk Classics – aka, the company that launched a million mashups after the smash hit success of their “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” – decided to turn the monster genre on it’s head. Instead of a classic piece of literature with some monters worked in, Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” became “The Meowmorphosis,” and Gregor Samsa awakens to discover he’s become an adorable kitten.
I love the concept. However, I only liked the book.
While the idea behind it is clever, Samsa’s becoming a kitten somehow led to the inclusion of a section where Samsa ventures out of the family’s apartment and into the dark underworld of other people who’ve also become cats. Kafka’s original novel takes place entirely within the confines of the apartment, and manages to say a lot more about family and society by staying in those walls. “The Meowmorphosis” strives to become a gonzo meta-fiction, by sending Samsa out into the world to get caught up in a storyline that has many (MANY) familiar echoes of Kafka’s “The Trial.”
It’s a tribute to Kafka, really. With Kittens.
That said, it’s a decent read, though it pales in comparison to some of Quirk’s other entries to the mashup genre. (I still hold “Android Karenina” dear to my heart, and in truth the 3rd book in the “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” trilogy is one of the most exciting books I’ve ever read. It’s like a Jane Austen movie with zombies, ninjas, and society women with swords. Unstoppable!)
If Kafka is your homeboy, you’ll probably enjoy this book more than I did. I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of references and twists that are pulled from his works that I didn’t catch. That said, at it’s basest form, the book is interesting enough to be a good read, if not a great one.