Sunday, May 29, 2011
Review: The Meowmorphosis 4/5 stars
Author: Coleridge Cook Publisher: Quirk Books ISBN: 9781594745034 Dimensions (inches): 5 ¼ x 9 # of Pages: 208 Price: $12.95
OK so I have a confession to make. See, I was _supposed_ to study Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' for my first year German finals in DCU but I left it til the last minute, forgetting that Therapy! were playing the night before the exam...
What can I say; my knowledge of the book is limited to Cliff Notes read on the 19A two hours before I sat down in the Exam Hall. I can't remember how it went and I can't remember what grade I got. That's what tetra pak red wine does to a student's brain cells in the long-term.
Anyhoo, I approached 'The Meowmorphosis' with trepidation. I was reminded of awful exams and dense narratives. The cover scared my mother, who kept putting one of her Book of Kells coasters over the photo every time I left it on a coffee table in my parents' house.
But I needn't have worried. This book is really engaging, with Gregor's transformation into a kitten making him a more sympathetic character, than say, if he was turned into a cockroach or something... the kitten form better suits his sensitive and sweet personality.
It's a fun idea, but the novel still retains its poignancy, with Gregor's self-sacrifice to support his free-loading family all the more devastating when they shun him once he is no longer of use to them.
What is very accomplished about this novel is the small details of Gregor's life as a kitten: "If only his father would not hiss so unbearably! Because of that Gregor totally lost his head... he just couldn't help turning back a little, to hiss in return, as a cat's honour demanded. Gregor did so and immediately regretted it." (Cook, 38)
I love the way this novel builds the metamorphosis into a kitten so seamlessly; it would work easily as well for a person new to the story as it would to those more familiar (or even sort of familiar, like me).
One small point: I was a wee bit confused as to the size of the kitten Gregor turns into. He seems quite large in the book trailer, but in the novel I felt there were conflicting descriptions of the physical dimensions of the kitten.
Nonetheless 'The Meowmorphosis' is an entertaining and compelling read. I just wish this book had been on the curriculum back in 1996...