retelling unwriting of the metamorphosis in class we decided it was a reading of kafka the idea than any of his stories, though the metamorphosis is obvs the strongest force here dunno very well written, some dazzling tricks, but ultimately not particularly affecting. Listen to this Shutting my eyes, I slant into the presence of his arm, the pinprick flakes of cold tapping my face and vanishing, and begin to image myself suspended in the centre of a gigantic piece of marzipan It is white and soft and grainy with almond paste and sugar Behind the immediate scents lingers an understated vanilla that makes me forget all the French verbs I have been trying to learn Also To forget about writing, the author who lives alone in the flat directly below the Samsas sometimes visualises himself as a piece of furniture It s a rather strange book at times, but lovely, too, and I appreciated how different each character s writing style was, and how surprisingly non Gregor centric This author presented the story very differently from the original, and though I was slightly disappointed by certain aspects of it view spoiler ie, that Gregor wasn t actually a giant bug but that it was all in his mind hide spoiler Anxious Pleasures Takes Franz Kafka S Profoundly Haunting And Sad Comic Novella, The Metamorphosis, And Reanimates It Through The Vantage Points Of Those Who Surrounded Gregor Samsa During His Plight All The Familiar Characters Are Here, Including The Hysterical Mother, Stern Father, Faithless Sister, And The Pragmatic Household Cook But We Are Also Introduced To, Among Others, The Would Be Author Downstairs Who Daydreams Of The Narrative He May Someday Compose And A Young Woman In Contemporary London Reading Kafka S Slim Book For The First TimeOr Do They All Comprise A Few Of The Disturbing Dreams From Which Gregor Is About To Snap Awake One Morning To Find Himself Transformed Into A Monstrous Vermin In The Tradition Of Michael Cunningham S The Hours And John Gardner S Grendel, Olsen S Novel Not Only Represents A Collaboration With A Ghost, But, Too, A Celebration, Augmentation, Complication, And Devoted Unwriting Of A Momentously Influential Text Check out my book review in RCF Vol XXVIII, 1 is the review in full The Review of Contemporary FictionAnxious Pleasures A Novel After Kafka, by Lance Olsenreviewed by Ren e E D AoustLance Olsen s anxious pleasures a novel after kafka is a surreal text of haunting, interlacing narratives Olsen engages in direct conversation with the ghost of Kafka and with every character in his own and in Kafka s book in addition, Olsen adds contemporary Margaret, who is reading Kafka s The Metamorphosis for the first time Margaret s studies allow Olsen to include literary criticism of The Metamorphosis, but it isn t a sleight of hand inclusion Olsen suggests that as readers we are as much creators as critics, and Margaret shows the psychic struggles of such engagement with literature for that reason, reading Olsen becomes a quest not because it is difficult or veiled, but because in Olsen s world, the reader becomes as important an imaginative tool as the text Olsen is particularly skilled at creating a burlesque grotesque, yet still lyrical fiction, possible to interpret on so many levels one becomes giddy, as if riding a roller coaster through an ever changing freak show We all remember Kafka s opening line As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect In anxious pleasures, we don t directly read Gregor Samsa s voice, but we surely hear its raspy echoes, recognizing it most firmly through Gregor s sister Grete In one of Grete s sections, she muses, Growing up is a process of losing things Perhaps the novel hits us most the places where we ourselves have lost Yet Gregor Samsa s family tries to impose normality onto the grotesque, ridiculously clinging to familiarity We linger, clasping each other around the waist, admiring, taking pleasure in this string of breaths A family Kafka made a place for the illogical tale that defies classification In anxious pleasures, a graceful, haunting work, Lance Olsen reminds us that defying classification has lasting, imaginative value. A bit like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead meets Gregor Samsa, but without the comedy naturally, it s Kafka The story of Gregor Samsa s Metamorphosis through the eyes of his parents, sister, boss, the family servents, boarders and even a contemporary reader Interesting and thought provoking to get a new picture of poor Gregor The invention of his hunger artist brother Georg, the bombing of Prague and descriptions of a naked, dirty, insane Gregor reveal much about Olsen s interpretation of the classic text The shift in voice and person between each chapter lends credence to each character s description of the situation, but I was especially interested in Grete whose sympathy for her brother changes so dramatically in the original text Dry at times and the liberties with what s going on outside of the Samsa apartment left me a bit disappointed. i might ve given this 3 stars if i d read kafka s metamorphosis i didn t read the back flap very carefully before i borrowed it at the library, and i suspect there s a good chance i d have enjoyed this book , with metamorphosis as a context however, it d still only get 3 stars because the writing is rather flat periodically there are bursts of color in the prose thank god , but in general, a lot of basic description without much feeling the nature of what s truly happening is sometimes difficult to make out true, that kept me engaged, but it was also annoying also i am sure that, were the book not parceled out in character by character chapters, each with their own vantage point and dialect, i would have been truly bored this unusual format kept me intrigued like nothing else did, and for that alone i would recommend it to any writer. I ranked this with four stars at first but when I read it over and taught it, I appreciated its layers, its sophistication than on the first read The prose is lovely, and its stories are beautiful I teared up at the end when the minor est of minor characters appear for their part of the story. I had some pretty high hopes for what I wanted this book to be It was readable don t get me wrong and the idea is fantastic I think maybe I just treasure the original story so much and have certain ideas of it s meaning in my mind that this story didn t play well with that. A reread One of my favorite little known novels, a retelling of Kafka s The Metamorphosis through the points of view of the other family members and the servants.My 3d reading of this little novel in 9 years As much as I admire Olsen s interpretation of the Samsa story and his imaginative sketching of the characters surrounding Gregor, I think it ll be quite some time before a 4th reading will stand up I do recommend it for those interested in Kafka. This is a beautifully written, lyrical and captivating book Some of the prose is truly poetic, and masterfully written I highly recommend this work of anything who appreciates Kafka and most particularity his story The Metamorphosis To me this book reads like an exploration into Kafka s The Metamorphosis rather than just a rewriting of the story But I feel as if within the pages of his novel the author is seeking to discover a deeper meaning of the story One of the interesting things about the book is the fact that while The Metamorphosis is told from Gregor s point of view, Olsen tells the story from the point of view of those around Gregor, his family, servants, tenants etc One thing I really liked was the way in which I felt Olsen humanizes these characters while still staying true to the original story In The Metamorphosis Gregor s family do not come off as very sympathetic in their treatment of Gregor Olsen doesn t make the characters come of as nicer, but he does give us an understanding of why they behave the way they do, he allows us to see their thoughts, and feelings in how they react to the situation The one thing that I did have a hard time with was understanding Olsen s vision of what Gregor looked like after his transformation Within the book he only offers brief, vague descriptions of Gregor, but in those depictions Gregor seems to still have various different human attributes It felt to me as if Olsen did not view the metamorphosis as a literal transformation, but rather it seemed to me that instead of in truth becoming an actual insect Gregor simply just went mad one day The only way we know something is different about him is the way others react to him But in reading Olsen s book instead of picturing a giant bug when Gregor is mentioned, I picture a man scampering about on all fours Perhaps in a way this is done to reiterate Gregor s humanity in spite of the change he has undergone But a curious thought, in The Metamorphosis It seems that while Gregor has externally changed, internally he is still the same But In Olsen s book it seems like externally he is the same, but internally he has altered Another interesting thought, is that while The Metamorphosis emphasis the way in which Gregor becomes exiled, Olsen s book displays the way each of the members of the family are exiled in different ways Also I do have to say that the very last chapter I did find somewhat confusing and rather random, and did not entirely understand what Olsen was trying to say with that.
Lance Olsen was born in 1956 and received his B.A from the University of Wisconsin 1978, honors , his M.F.A from the Iowa Writers Workshop 1980 , and his M.A 1982 and Ph.D 1985 from the University of Virginia He is author of eleven novels, one hypertext, four critical studies, four short story collections, a poetry chapbook, and a textbook about fiction writing, as well as editor of two
- 176 pages
- Anxious Pleasures: A Novel after Kafka
- Lance Olsen
- 01 May 2018 Lance Olsen