In Kockroach, a wholly original work of literary noir, Tyler Knox brilliantly turns Kafka's The Metamorphosis on its head.
It is the mid-1950s, and in a fleabag hotel off Times Square, Kockroach, perfectly content with life as an insect, awakens to discover that somehow he's become, of all things, a human. This tragic turn of events would be enough to fling a more highly evolved creature into despair, but cockroaches know no despair. Firmly entrenched in the present tense, they are awesome coping machines, and so Kockroach copes. Step by step, he learns the ways of humanshow to walk, how to talk, how to wear a jaunty brown fedora.
In Times Square he discovers a blistering sea of lights, a great smoking god, walls of glass laden with food, and the opportunity to rise in the human world. Two companions guide him on his way: Mite, an undersized gangster suffering an acute case of existential angst, and Celia Singer, a reserved woman with a disfigured body who finds in Kockroach a key to unlocking her hidden passions.
As Kockroach, led by his primitive desires and insectile amorality, navigates through the bizarre human realms of crime, business, politics, and sex, he meets with both great triumph and great disaster. Will he find success or be squashed flat from above? Will he change humanity, or will humanity change him?
Packed with love, violence, and a perverse sense of humor, Kockroach is the classic tale of an immigrant's search for the American dream as seen from a stunning new perspective.
As Kockroach, an arthropod of the genus Blatella and of the species germanica, awakens one morning from a typically dreamless sleep, he finds himself transformed into some large, vile creature.
He is lying flip side up atop a sagging pad. Four awkwardly articulated legs sprawl on either side of his extended thorax. His abdomen, which once made up the bulk of his body, lies like a flaccid worm between his legs. In the thin light his new body looks ridiculously narrow and soft, its skin beneath a pelt of hair as pale and shriveled as a molting nymph's.
Maybe that is what has happened, maybe he has simply molted. He reflexively swallows air, expecting his abdomen to expand into its normal proud dimensions and the air to swell his body until the skin stretches taut so it can begin hardening to a comforting chocolate brown, but nothing happens. No matter how much air he swallows, his body remains this pale pathetic thing.
A flash of red rips through the...
It goes without saying that one has to suspend disbelief to read either Kafka's Metamorphosis or Kockroach, but somehow, when one observes human nature, it is easier to believe that cockroaches dressed as men are walking the streets than vice versa!
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (715 words).
Tyler Knox is the pseudonym of former Philadelphia lawyer William Lashner, known for his Victor Carl legal thriller series. Lashner decided to write under a new name not for the purposes of "rebranding or putting one over my readers ..... but purely for the freedom of doing something completely new." On Sarah Weinman's website he explains that he loves writing crime fiction and, within the requirements of the genre, can write about pretty much what he wants but that he has to admit to a secret vice - he's always wanted to write "small existential novels!" He ...
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