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Insect Dreams: The Half Life of Gregor Samsa
Synopses & Reviews
It seems the Samsas' chambermaid only claimed to sweep into the dustbin the twentieth century's most remarkable contemplative. Instead, having spirited him from his bedchamber, she apparently sold the metamorphosed Gregor to a Viennese sideshow, where-it being 1915-he could earn his living lecturing carnival crowds on the implications of Rilke and Herr Spengler.
In this delightfully original work of imagination, compassion, and good reason, we follow the trajectory of Kafka's salesman-turned-cockroach across two continents and thirty years as he touches the most significant flash points of his time. In the process, Marc Estrin delivers a human saga of cultural ambition and compassionate insight that may be the most surprising addition to Jewish literature in a generation.
What's more, the book is funny. And Estrin's Gregor is downright endearing.
With its reach and substance, Insect Dreams is nothing short of a liberal education-in cultural history, musical theory, nuclear physics, and the world of ideas. But it's also a remarkable reading experience. With a scope, heart, and intelligence unparalleled in recent memory, Insect Dreams should spark wide-ranging discussions about who we're becoming, now that the swiftest century is complete.
"Halfway through, after learning about everything from X-rays to risk management, I began to wonder, Is there anything Estrin doesn't know? It's only a matter of time before this new cult classic inspires a companion collection of footnotes and commentary....Indeed, if Insect Dreams weren't so perpetually funny, its philosophical ruminations and its encyclopedia of cameo appearances would be downright intimidating. In the most natural ways, Estrin manages to insinuate Gregor into the major developments of the first half of the 20th century. (Roaches can fit into the tiniest places, you know.)" Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Monitor review)
The metamorphosis of Kafka's Gregor Samsa from fabric salesman to cockroach was surely one of the momentous transformations of the modern world. Now, in Marc Estrin's astounding debut, Gregor undergoes yet another metamorphosis-one that propels him across the rocky and often ridiculous landscape of the early twentieth century. In these continuously surprising pages, Estrin's Gregor scuttles his way from Wittgenstein to Alice Paul to FDR, and emerges from it all as the very essence of modern conscience.
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