Back in 1915, a man named Franz Kafka (maybe you’ve heard of him?) had his novella The Metamorphosis published. Since then, The Metamorphosis and his other works have been considered some of the best literature out there.
Fast forward roughly nine decades – give or take a few years. This here reviewer is in one of her required English classes when her professor says, read The Metamorphosis, great tale that it is. And so I go home, and I read a story about a man who wakes up not a man, but a bug. When I finally finished the story I realized that this ‘gem’ of literature gave me one of the most painful reading experiences of my life (topped only by dislike for Steinbeck – which I actually mentioned in my review of The Metamorphosis which I wrote after having to read it again… in another English class).
Fast forward (last time, promise) to April 2011. I’m checking my email, and there in my inbox is an email with the subject “The Meowmorphosis.” There I am thinking, ‘this ought to be interesting.’ And so I read an email about a book by Franz Kafka and Coleridge Cook that feature’s Mr. Gregor Samsa, only this time he wakes up a baby kitten. My first thought after reading that email… ‘Oh, this is gonna be better than the original.’ With that, I give you my review of The Meowmorphosis.
The Meowmorphosis is the story of Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman working his hind-end off to pay off his fathers debt and provide for his parents and sister. One morning, after a fitful night’s sleep, Gregor wakes up to find that not only is he late for work, but he appears to be a kitten! Of course, Gregor’s new status as a kitten means he’s not exactly able to work – what with the lack of opposable thumbs and perhaps the whole communication thing, which leaves his family in an uproar trying to figure out how they will keep the bills paid.
Shortly after turning into a kitten, Gregor finds his chance for escape, and so he bolts for freedom from the family apartment to the streets of Prague. It doesn’t take Gregor long to find out that he isn’t the only man turned cute little kitty-cat. That one crazy night with the men-turned-cat’s of Prague leaves Gregor reeling, and so he returns home.
Of course his father is still miffed, his mother still can’t breathe with him in the room, and his sister no longer wants to cuddle him… so much for the rainbows of love he was hoping to go home to, eh? And so Gregor lives out the rest of his days with a family that is quite content to leave this no longer kitten-sized, but overgrown cat be.
So, was The Meowmorphosis better than the original? Most definitely.
This is a mash-up, so there are many parts of The Meowmorphosis that mirror the original, and for me this ended up giving the story a slow start. Once stuff actually started happening though, namely Gregor’s escape from the apartment, I became far more involved. I loved the addition of meeting the other man-turned-cat’s and all that came along with Gregor’s discovery of this group. Even if he did go back home towards the end, which I had hoped wouldn’t happen, I still really liked the book.
Coleridge Cook’s writing fit in really well with the essence of Kafka and consequently, the story has a good flow to it. There were some pretty humorous moments as well. This is, after all, a story that happens from the perspective of a cat and while a lot of the story was about what was going on around Gregor, there were moment’s of very cat-like interjections (you know, ear scratching, pouncing, kneading, all that stuff that cat’s adore – on their schedule of course). Gregor’s night on the town and seeing the different perspective of Josef K and Franz (other men-turned-cat’s) made for some good moments as well.
The Meowmorphosis is a fresh take on an old story joined by those ridiculously awesome illustrations that Quirk novels always have, an fairly hilarious Appendix titled ‘The Curious Life of Franz Kafka, author of The Meowmorphosis,’ and what I think are some of the best discussion questions I’ve ever seen in a book. Basically, I consider this one definitely worth checking out.