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.
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).
The San Francisco Chronicle - Mark Luce Kockroach's story of friendship, betrayal and greed, however quirkily fun and at times insightful, never really settles into a groove. Part noir, part eerie cautionary tale, part confession, Kockroach has storylines and themes that knock each other around like pool balls caroming on a table with no pockets.
The Washington Post - Ron Charles
Don't be squeamish; pick up this witty, unsettling book. Even if you can't read, you'll enjoy the little flip-movie printed on the bottom right corner of each page that shows a cockroach transforming into Kockroach. You'll think of him every time you turn on the bathroom light and surprise those little scavengers going about their business while you go about yours.
The New York Times - Matt Weiland
Unlike Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, Kockroach is spectacularly successful — indeed the novel becomes a commentary on the nature of American success itself. Summing up Kockroach’s career at the end, Knox writes: “In the world of crime, he first was an enforcer. In the world of business, he first was an exterminator. In the world of politics, he first will be a senator.” It’s a fine line between Gregor Samsa and Richard Nixon.
USA Today - Deirdre Donahue
Knox handles the noir stuff well. But the novel gets its originality, its humor and its kick from the way Knox applies Blatta's insect past to his human present.
Library Journal-Joshua Cohen
Debut novelist Knox presents a study of human society from a unique perspective.
Booklist - Steve Weinberg
Knox's tale is complete with heroines, harlots, and love triangles, and honest and corrupt businesspeople, cops, and politicians.
The plot has the memorable clarity of fable, but it's the creepy-mythic atmospherics-imagine a hybrid of Ted Hughes's Crow poems and pulp-noir film fare like the Candyman series-that make this one cook. Surreal, standoutdebut fiction.
Starred Review. The book's conceptual cleverness is ultimately eclipsed by the epic story line, making for a compelling story of greed and power that is more Chandler than Kafka.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Emily The Sky is Purple. I enjoyed this book a lot, a wonderful approach to exploring the human mind and particularly how emotions effect our individual beings and society as a whole. Just as a tidbit because I noticed that someone above had said that this was Knox's first... Read More
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
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
adores both Kafka and Kerouac and had an
urge to write something completely
different than crime novels.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...