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Anxious pleasures : a novel after Kafka
Lance Olsen
Adult Fiction OLSEN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Following Nietzsche's Kisses (2006), Olsen treats another great modernist to postmodernist investigation, this time retelling Kafka's The Metamorphosis from the supporting cast's points-of-view. Olsen hews closely to the original, and his additions, excursions and elaborations are simultaneously stimulating and entertaining: intermittent sections relate the contemporary story of Margaret, an insecure young woman whose grandparents have gone missing and who is reading Kafka's masterpiece for the first time, and that of the Samsas' downstairs neighbor, a writer who is inspired by the strange noises upstairs to write a novella-length allegory in which "a man will awake with meat cleavers for hands. The moral will be that the meaning of life is that it stops." Characters who appear only briefly in Kafka's work here provide texture and a broader canvas, but the Samsa family, though given magnificent voices, aren't particularly developed. Intricately woven and richly imagined, Olsen's novel is a cerebral treat unto itself and a fine companion to Kafka's original. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Olsen, who demonstrated his brilliance in probing the heights and depths of human consciousness in Nietzsche's Kisses, here manages to go even deeper. This is a retelling, embellished, unbundling reinterpretation and alternate version(s) of Metamorphosis told not from the perspective of protagonist Gregor Samsa but rather of other major characters (his family and servants), characters only briefly alluded to, a downstairs neighbor (who may be Kafka himself), and a contemporary young woman named Margaret reading Metamorphosis for the first time. In the acknowledgments, Olsen reveals that Margaret's complex, nuanced interpretation of Kafka is based on those of Guy Debord, Albert Camus, and Guy Davenport. This book is best appreciated after reading or rereading the original text. Bizarre new subplots include Gregor's brother Georg's starvation as a "hunger artist," his sister Grete's courtship with a bisexual pedophile, and mysterious bombings that are considered "natural disasters." Olsen makes Metamorphosis even more unsettling, absurd, and darkly humorous than ever. Highly recommended for all academic and public libraries, as well as book discussion groups.-Jim Dwyer, California State Univ., Chico (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Gregor Samsa
Hates his job; his family's sole breadwinner; provided his parents and sisters with comfortable lives; dreamt of sending his sister to study violin; awakes one morning to find himself transformed into a bug; torn between his human wants and emotions and his insect needs.
Traveling salesman

Insecure; reading Kafka's The Metamorphosis; grandparents are missing.

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