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The Meowmorphosis by Coleridge Cook
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's review
May 22, 11

Coleridge Cook places tongue firmly in cheek and takes a bold swipe at one of the most fascinating philosophical works of German Expressionism, Kafka’s Metamorphosis. It is funny and thought provoking, and mimics Kafka’s style (in English translation), perfectly. The prose is elegant and satiric, nicely paced.

In Meowmorphosis, lower level civil servant Gregor Samsa is left to support his timid mother, sheltered sister, and useless, broken father, after the collapse of the family business. They depend upon him entirely, but it becomes quickly apparent that they do not value him as an independent human being, probably because he little values himself.

One morning Gregor wakes up transformed into a large kitten. After clumsy attempts to synchronize his four fuzzy appendages and realization that he can no longer communicate with people, he begins to accept his new life. Unfortunately, his family treats him with such fear and contempt, that he escapes through a window, fully meaning to return once he’s had a breath of fresh air.
While out, however, he’s confronted with accusations of worthlessness, lethargy, and complaisance, which are, in the cat world, capital offenses. Gregor is barely capable of asserting his own rights, so cowed he is by society, and has to be nearly forced to defend himself. Upon returning home, he finds no welcome or acceptance, only apathy for his lack of self determination, and so shrivels up into a furry ball and dies.
Meowmorphosis is a highly entertaining romp for the reader who would enjoy reading Kafka’s original. The same rambling philosophies, metaphor, and societal examination are present in Cook’s writing, and in about the same scope. Changing Kafka’s vision from a cockroach to a kitten brings a new and intriguing point of view. The theories espoused spill over into universal behavior, comparing human psychosis to feline bent, adding significantly to the number of interpretations possible in the text, if the reader cares to delve that deep.

The appendix contains an amusing poke at Kafka’s life and a funny section of Discussion Questions. The photo collage illustrations, created by Matthew Richardson, are gorgeous and haunting, humorously mocking surrealism and adding a key element to the work overall. This book falls squarely in the genre of Humor. There is no gore, and very little threatening plot or suspense. The horror of the novel is Kafkaesque, that is, within the mind of the reader.

Review by Sheila Shedd

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