This is a hard book to nail down. That despite the fact that the basic (infamous) premise is revealed in the first sentence. It was about all I knew about Kafka or <i>The Metamorphosis</i> when I started the book--that the "hero" wakes up as a cockroach:
<i>As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was lying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly stay in place and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes.</i>
I'd read this work published in 1915 was a seminal work of the early 20th century. I'd read it was important to the Existentialist movement, surreal and absurdest and despairing. So what surprised me about this short novella--it's only about 22 thousand words--is how funny it is. I just found this all pretty hilarious. Is that bad, and wrong? It has been described as horror--but I mean, just the way Kafka describes poor Gregor trying to get around on his little legs--or trying to squeak out explanations to his supervisor or his family... I found nothing very heavy in this--or anything all that philosophical--at least not in any ponderous or pedantic way. It felt more light humor than anything--and really, an engaging introduction for me to this writer who'd I'd definitely read again.