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Strange and frequently beguiling, this collaborative short story collection (two apiece by Lethem and Scholz, one written together) is an intriguing curio. The pieces here range from deliberate cultural mashup (Lethem's 'The Notebooks of Bob K.') to dreamlike intertextual fable (Scholz's 'The Amount to Carry'). The range of reference is extensive - this is (unsuprisingly) best read by those with a reasonable knowledge of Kafka's work. Lethem's 'Notebooks', for example, splices Superhero mytholog...
the batman story in this is awesome.
Some of the pieces are stronger than others. It's a cute concept of a book, worth seeking out if you like Kafka or Lethem (chances are if you really like one, you'll like the other).
Gregor Samsa ducked into a phone booth. "This looks," he said, 'like a job for a gigantic insect."
Somewhere it states this book of short stories by two obviously gifted writers has attained "cult status" not unlike "Catch-22." Well, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, "I wouldn't want to join a cult that would have me as a member." Admittedly, having read only one short story by Kafka -- "The Metamorphosis" -- I cannot profess to being well-acquainted with his paranoid inducing style of writing. Thus, something here has gotten lost in the translation. To be sure, both authors are exceptional writers...
This is a short and interesting book. It is a collection of five short stories written by two authors (Jonathan Lethem and Carter Scholz) in Kafka's bleak and straightforward style, complete with his darkness and humor. You do not have to be familiar with Kafka to read this, but it will help as many of the characters and situations contained within the book are pulled directly from the author these two are emulating. If you are looking for what Kafka's material might look like if he were writing...
While not as good as Kafka, Lethem and Scholz's stories take him into the 21st century -- a time that knows of the Holocaust (something the Jewish Kafka did not live to experience), with a heaping dose of wit and a refreshing Kafkaesque sense of the absurd.What's missing, or rather what I would have liked, would have been some sort of introduction, epilogue, or statement from the writers. Those unfamiliar with Kafka will not get the same enjoyment out of themes that pop up in more than one story...
This book left me torn. There were some brilliant passages, but I think I should have read it slower or with Kafka more present in my mind, or when I was in a better, more playful mood...Anyway, we didn't click the way I hoped we might. Though I will never look at my living room furniture the same way again.
The two stories written by Carter Scholz were really a delight, and where the two stars come from. Jonathan Lethem is self-indulgent and far too pleased with himself as a writer (unduly, I would add.) The collaborative story was boring and trite; its attempts at meta-fiction fell woefully short of what I'm sure were very high hopes. Sincerely a disappointing read.
So po-mo that it seems a bit quaint now. Some of the pieces work better than the others, of course, but the premise of playing with Kafka is a compelling one that gives the overall collection a compelling momentum.
I wanted to love it. (I really like the idea of it.) But I just didn't. I probably would have appreciated it a lot more during my school years when I was obsessed with Kafka. Maybe there'll be time for it again in the future.
A neat idea, writing modern Kafka sendups, and the back cover story summaries made me laugh aloud. Of the five stories, though, I liked the first and last and found the middle three only intermittently amusing.
enjoyable excursion... more like ballard without the bite, or kafka without the pathos... but give me stories that include Orson Welles and Rod Serling with Jerry Lewis's long hidden "day the clown cried" and there are enough insider references to rival Dennis Miller in his heyday.
Sometimes a little too "clever" for its own good, but also a lot of fun.
I wrote a review of this book and it can be found here:http://mewlhouse.hubpages.com/_1qsqsu...
I read one story from this book: "Receding Horizon" since it was nominated for a Sidewise award for alternate history. While the premise intrigued me, there was too much Kafka in it for me.
Another post-911 book. Ordered it/bought it from a local "small" book shop in Astoria, after kicking myself for not grabbing a copy whilst at Powell's.
This book makes me feel like I am not smart enough to get it. Painfully postmodern.
This collection was pretty weak. The quality of the last two stories were better, but overall i was underwhelmed.