The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka
So…where do I begin? I’ve heard a lot about Kafka, but I didn’t know too much. I should also add that European aesthetic literary style is typically not my thing. I had purchased The Metamorphosis and Other Stories years ago but never got around to reading it. Finally, in 2016, I conquered this book. And there’s not a whole lot to be said, on my part.
Gregor Samsa, our protagonist, wakes up and finds that he’s suddenly become a large insect overnight (I pictured him as a cockroach). His family understandably freaks out. His entire life changes in a blink. He can no longer work or travel, and he is confined to his room, though it’s kind of small for his large insect body. His sister is the only one who quasi-cares for him, and even then, he finds himself diminishing as a person. Communication becomes next to impossible, and it is easy to sustain major injuries. Quickly, Gregor finds himself no longer himself and suddenly a thing, a burden, and an unspeakable in his own family home.
To me, the message of the book was pretty clear, but the story just didn’t do it for me. There were some weird parts and boring parts, and the sum didn’t result from the parts. I should also add that books that dip so heavily into philosophy are typically not my jam, either. This is one of those classics I can say I’ve read and then move on. Most of the short stories in this collection are pretty forgettable, though I had read excerpts of “A Report to an Academy” in Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. That one delves into the lives of animals and humans, as well. Plus, the narrative style is fairly interesting.