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The Meowmorphosis (Quirk Classics) [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Frank Kafka , Coleridge Cook
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

10 May 2011 Quirk Classics
'One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that he had been changed into an adorable kitten.' Thus begins The Meowmorphosis--a bold, startling, and fuzzy-wuzzy new edition of Kafka's classic nightmare tale, from the publishers of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! Meet Gregor Samsa, a humble young man who works as a fabric salesman to support his parents and sister. His life goes strangely awry when he wakes up late for work and discovers that, inexplicably, he is now a man-sized baby kitten. His family freaks out: Yes, their son is OMG so cute, but what good is cute when there are bills to pay? And how can Gregor be so selfish as to devote all his attention to a scrap of ribbon? As his new feline identity threatens to eat away at his personality, Gregor desperately tries to survive this bizarre, bewhiskered ordeal by accomplishing the one thing he never could as a man: He must flee his parents' house.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books (10 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159474503X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594745034
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 480,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Gregor Samsa wakes up as an adorable kitten, and Kafka's famously surreal story becomes even more brain breaking. Samsa's fate is especially poignant, and his family's treatment of him is all the more inhumane, now that he's cute and furry. Cook ( a pseudonym for a popular fantasy author) creativly draws from Kafka's other works to apd the original short tale to novel length. With a biographical note alleging that Kafka was stalked all his life by sinister cats untill he became obsessed with them, and a plot that weaves a new narrative about a group of formaly human cats who run a nonsensical and arbitary court, the book seems like an artifact form a peculiar and troubeling alternate universe. Jane Austen mashup fans won't know what to do with this one, but it's highly recommended for connisseurs of the bizarre. --Publishers Weekly, March, 2011----Well, why not take a well-known classic like Kafka s Metamorphosis and rewrite it in true mash-up style so that rather than waking up one morning and finding that he s been turned into a beetle, Gregor Samsa wakes up to find he is now a cat? The Meowmorphosis is a strange book, for although the concept is not a little ridiculous, it makes some quite serious points and goes on to incorporate elements of Kafka s The Trial and other works too. Its surprisingly rather good and in addition, its a nicely produced book with some intriguing full-page illustrations to enliven what is already a fairly lively text. This book is just one of a series of mash-up or remix novels in the Quirk Classics series. Other titles in the series are Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and perhaps the best title, Android Karenina. I like to think that Kafka in particular might have rather enjoyed The Meowmorphosis and it certainly carries on his tradition of providing an oblique perspective on life and allowing his readers to see the inherent zaniness of familiar human behaviour...But the book soon departs from mere parody, and while the author retains many of the elements of Metamorphosis, he allows Gregor to find his own cat-like destiny with its own feline charm and interactions in the society of street cats who turn out to be a definitely Kafkaesque bunch of animals. Gregor s family seem to accept his transformation, their main concern seeming to be the loss of his earning potential because his job as a fabric salesman had enabled him to support his parents and sister. His mother cannot bear going into his room to look at him, but Gregor s sister Grete takes quite easily to looking after him by feeding and grooming him and cleaning his room. But of course, life in one room is no life for a cat and eventually on a snowy evening, Gregor manages to escape into the city streets. He discovers the delicacy of his sense of smell finding that when he investigates a rubbish heap he can 'discern haddock from cod . . . what other creatures had visitied the alley before him, what sorts of moods they had been in and whether or not he could expect rain later this evening'. Once he has left home he finds himself not at all concerned for his family, for it is int he nature of cats to be only interested in where the next meal is coming from and where a warm spot to sleep can be found.When he encounters the community of other cats, he finds himself in the world of Kafka s The Trial. He encounters the Academy of Cats is arrested and imprisoned, accused of unknown crimes, but as the investigation progresses, he finds himself more confused than ever, for his accusers seem surprisingly disinterested in finding an actual crime committed by Gregor, but more interested in a sort of universal guilt in which he has become complicit.-a Common Reader,May, 2011.'Kafka's Metamorphosis given 'OMG so cute' makeover Meowmorphosis is latest literary 'remix', transforming tortured hero into a fluffy kitten --The Guardian, May, 2011

This is oddly compelling and disturbing at the same time--FantasyBookReviw, May, 2011--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--Among Stories, May, 2011-- The story still retains the same existential angst as the original book, but the tongue-in-cheek humor of a man suffering through these crises as a cat instead of a bug is truly hilarious. Cook, along with his writing partner Kafka, also uses this technique to espouse philosophy from the mouths of cats, exploring what it is and what it means to be a member of their species. As someone who is not at all a cat lover (I have terribly allergies, and they know I have terrible allergies, so they like to screw with me), I was endlessly entertained by having an eloquent cat postulate about the things that make them superior to humans (because, as we all know, cats do think they're better than us). But Cook & Kafka manage to articulate why cats might feel this way, from their own point of view, and while the end result is humorous, it's also quite insightful. There were a few points in the book where the long-winded philosopher-cat ramblings carried on a bit too long, but for the most part, I was impressed by Cook's ability to get into the minds of an adorable kitty in such an amusing manner. -- --The Daily Genoshan, May, 2011

...this offering is another splendidly silly example of the incraesigly popular new genre that is mash-up fiction. Combining Franz kafka's original nightmarish classic novella about one man's sens eof alienation and the nature of exsistence with his sudden transformation into a cute kitten - well, why not? - this title alcks none of the surrealism of teh seminal masterpiece that serves as its inspiration. While this is porbably not one for the literary purists out there, it's great fun and provides a refreshing escape from the norm. --The Cat magazine, September, 2011

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 is the pseudonym for a beloved fantasy novelist and blogger as well as the winner of several prestigious literary awards.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so much for cat lovers (might be a spoiler) 16 Sep 2011
Format:Paperback
I love Quirk Classics' books, and was a bit wary of reading this, because i've read a bit of Kafka, and the impression i get is that its quite depressing, but very strange. If you look at this from an angle of someone who is into Kafka, i think that this book is quite good - i like the way Cook has adapted this story to cats, and how he managed to include a bit of another novel that Kafka wrote (The Trial) into the novel, without interrupting the flow of the story. However if you are a cat lover like i am, you will probably find the ending of this version of the metamorphosis very sad. I think if you're more a fan of Kafka, than you are a fan of cats, you might like this book.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  49 reviews
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Can Has Kafka? YES! 23 Mar 2011
By Anastasia Beaverhausen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that he had been changed into an adorable kitten."

In less capable hands, such a prompt would have resulted in a book that simply replaced the word "insect" with "kitten." But Quirk Books wisely commissioned an extremely capable fantasy writer to re-imagine Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis as a work of gonzo literature. I'm happy to report that "The Meowmorphosis" (published by "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies publisher" Quirk Books) is more than the one-note parody its early detractors feared.

While the initial chapters stick close to Kafka's well-known novella, the book spirals out of control (in a good way) when Samsa leaves his parents' home to relieve them of the burden of caring and feeding for such a large, adorable kitten. Samsa's adventure is both hilarious and horrifying to witness, and takes meta-fiction to dizzying new heights. The new co-writer absolutely nails Kafka's voice; the new passages integrate so well with the story that it's hard to believe the book isn't entirely written by one author.

Co-author Coleridge Cook (a pseudonym for an award-winning fantasy novelist) describes Samsa's feline behavior in detail, and not a page goes by in which a piece of furniture is not scratched or perched on. Bowls of milk are lapped at, and humans are snuggled with.

Will cat-lovers enjoy "The Meowmorphosis"? Yes -- there's no doubt in my mind that cat-lovers will find Samsa just as cute and cuddly as his sister does in the story. I'm a dog person, and even I was LOL-ing by the book's end.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It could've been five stars, but . . . 24 Mar 2011
By J. Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I love these homages/ripoffs of classic literature. I started with Pride Prejudice and Zombies and have been keeping up with Quirk Classics' output ever since. I think Meowmorphosis would have to rank near the top of that genre.

First of all, it's pretty gutsy. Many of the books they've lampooned previously are classics with a long, classical pedigree, that've had film adaptations, miniseries, modernizations and bowlderizations aplenty. Taking something like Kafka's Metamorphosis, a book that's so much the province of deep thinkers, intellectuals and grad students, and putting in lolcat jokes is a move that's more than a little shocking.

And it works, on almost all levels. The book maintains the unsteady paranoia, that creepy feeling that what you're reading might just as well be a long hallucination as a description of actual events. The overall themes remain as well - the futility of modern work, man's disconnection from himself, being a stranger in your own family's house - but it is this very faithfulness to the source material that betrays the book from time to time.

The original Gregor was turned into a bug - this Gregor was turned into a kitten. At times, the book wants us to believe that kittens and bugs behave in almost exactly the same way, which just isn't so. This is most striking in the early part of his transformation, where Gregor is having difficulty getting to his feet. The scene plays out well in the original - "like a beetle on its back" is a common enough phrase for being greatly inconvenienced and unable to act - but with a kitten, it just doesn't make sense. And it's not as though the scene couldn't be rewritten to indicate that the problem wasn't one of anatomy, but rather one of a kittenish sleepiness.

This creeps up less as the story goes on, although it returns when Gregor is rooting through garbage and in his reactions to some of the other characters in the book.

If there'd been a little more attention paid to these few scenes, this book would've earned a solid five stars. As it is, it's a highly entertaining read and a strongly recommend it.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A terrible failure of a parody 14 Sep 2011
By M. Cromwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"The Meowmorphosis" starts with a potentially amusing idea, and then completely fails to develop it in any of the ways that would actually make it amusing. Coleridge Cook's modifications end up flat and boring in some places from too closely copying the original, and in other places they deviate so far from the spirit of Kafka that the entire work loses coherence. Cook makes it evident that he despises Kafka, and this disdain for his co-author inevitably ruins the book. What could have been exquisite in the hands of a skilled satirist ends up as a pathetic wreck after being mangled by Cook.

I borrowed this book from a friend after taking a glance at a few random passages. It seemed promising. I've read "The Metamorphosis" and generally like Kafka, but don't take him so seriously that I see him as above parody, or satirizing his works as sacrilege. So I went into "The Meowmorphosis" with a generally optimistic feeling that I might read something witty, something that would both lampoon Kafka as well as pay tribute to him. The experience was completely contrary to my expectations. About a third of the way into the book, I was disappointed with how boring and flat the parody was. Midway through it, I was frustrated and baffled by Cook's extensive deviations from the story, and put off by his insulting attitude towards Kafka. I only finished it by force of will.

Cook fails his task in different ways in different parts of the book. For the early and later parts of the book, the text closely follows a public domain translation of "The Metamorphosis" by Ian Johnston, with little more than the selective replacement of insect-related concepts with those appropriate to felines.. Nothing else substantial is added or subtracted, so that there is little gained from reading this alternate version. Instead it was simply tedious, because the story was identical to the original "Metamorphosis," only with some slight changes in vocabulary. So he's a cat instead of a bug--the concept is amusing, but it's hardly worthy to appear as a published parody when executed this way. It could have been done by anyone else with a minimal amount of intelligence, and required no special creativity or insight.

In contrast to how unimaginatively and mechanically Cook deals with the beginning and end, in the middle of the book he goes wildly in the opposite direction, adding a totally new episode that deviates wholly from the original "Metamorphosis." This section is based loosely on "The Trial." Such an insertion wouldn't have necessarily been bad per se, but Cook takes it upon himself here to engage in a kind of free-form parody, in which it becomes extremely obvious that he does not understand nor like Kafka. This section consists mainly of lengthy monologues by various characters, including the cat Joseph K., whose speeches drip with Cook's obvious disdain for and distaste for Kafka's writing.

For example: "I took you for an educated tom, sir, in which case you would have read your German classics and be quite accustomed to a narrator who only loves to hear himself speak--you must admit I speak very well, with many masculine and robust sub clauses, romantic dashes, and surprising punctuation--and forgets what the purpose of telling the story was in the first place something like two-thirds of the way through. This is considered traditional!"

There is much more of this. Most of the writing in this section is terrible and clumsy, and does not capture the spirit of Kafka at all. It is has a boisterous, over-bearing and excessively dramatic flamboyance in it that is wholly absent from Kafka. Apparently Cook thinks that in order to write like Kafka, one must simply construct long, bombastic sentences with many clauses and pointless digressions. But this is only superficially like Kafka, and only captures the crudest features of his writing. Cook's writing is abrasive, and ostentatiously absurd. Kafka's is none of these things. When Kafka writes an extended monologue, it may be pointless and absurd, but it is a much more subtly crafted and seductive absurdity. It does not shout itself at you the way Cook's ham-fisted parody does. Love it or hate it, Kafka's style has nothing in common with Cook's misconceived imitations.

My impression is that Cook really hasn't read much Kafka, or didn't read Kafka very carefully. Anyone reading these middle sections of "The Meowmorphosis" who hadn't read Kafka first would come away with a very inaccurate impression of what Kafka's writing and ideas are like. Now, as a parody, of course "The Meowmorphosis" shouldn't emulate Kafka too closely. But a good parody needs to preserve some essential core of its target in order to be satisfying...

... that is to say, if the parody hopes to engage readers who have any fondness for the original. As I said, it seems clear to me that Cook dislikes Kafka intently (the mock biography at the end--based largely on Kafka's Wikipedia entry--makes this even more evident). In this case, Cook's terrible attempt at lampooning Kafka's style makes a little more sense. I can see how it might be considered funny by those who dislike Kafka. Those who have read Kafka and come away angry and confused, who complain that Kafka is boring, pointless, and pretentious, might gain some pleasure at seeing Cook skewer Kafka, since they will not realize nor care that the skewering is inaccurate; they will just enjoy the visceral pleasure of seeing their object of scorn mocked. But this is the worst spirit in which to make (or receive) satire. Seen in this light, "The Meowmorphosis" is nothing more than an angry rant.

Needless to say, I do not recommend this to anyone, whether you enjoy Kafka or not. But if you still do feel inclined to read it, at least read some genuine Kafka first.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars bring on the mash-ups, Quirk! 26 April 2011
By Elvisettey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Meowmorphosis is the latest from Quirk's hugely successful line of mash-ups of classics, this one penned by a fantasy writer writing under a pseudonym. This one is a gutsier step than some of the previous mash-ups: no staid Austen here. This time, we're doing the Kafkaesque as Kittenesque, which is a whole new liteary territory (modernism) taken to a whole new level of surreal.

What works well is that, for the most part, Cook doesn't just try to swap out "kitten" for "bug." The Metamorphosis plot trajectory is there, but there's not a one-to-one identification, which would have been simplistic and would have left out a lot of good jokes (such as Gregor's sister's overwhelming adoration for her cuddly kitten brother). The book fortunately didn't go for the LOLcat humor, as I feared it might, which would date an otherwise "classic" mashup. It takes advantage of Kafka's gloomy modernist glumness and sense of the absurd and makes us see them through the eyes of a tortured kitten's soul, and the results are hilarious.

There's a departure in the middle of the book that lampoons The Trial. For readers who are familiar only with The Metamorphisis, this is going to be confusing and potentially boring. I wouldn't edit it out because it adds absurdist meat to the text and builds up Gregor's character and his torments, but readers who are only casually interested in Kafka may want to be advised.

The biographical note on Kafka at the end deserves special note; it's a riot. Satirical and biting, it finds a shocking thread in Kafka's life (cats!) and lampoons modernism at large. Don't skim over it-- it's a nice little treat waiting at the end of this novel.

Quirk does it again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Strong Start but lacks follow through 26 July 2011
By Sandra E. Soroka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not much is to be expected from the recent re-writing of old classics but how could I pass on a kitten version of one of the best novella's of all time? The start is excellent, very amusing, quite a delight but quickly turns repetitive. Okay, we get it, you're a kitten. Got it, next! Once Gregor leaves his home and is out in the real world I must say it just fell apart. Gregor meets other cats and it just gets dreadfully boring. In fact I had to skip all the way to the last chapter it became so unbearable. It's a short read just over 200 pages or so (but twice as long as the original). I think this book had great potential but the re-author just beat it like a dead horse. If they kept the book about the same length as the original and as entertaining as the beginning it surely would have been a success, but the novelty wore off quickly. It's a shame because I really wanted to like it.
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