BookBrowse Reviews Kockroach by Tyler Knox

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Kockroach

A Novel

by Tyler Knox

Kockroach by Tyler Knox X
Kockroach by Tyler Knox
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2006, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2008, 368 pages

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In an original work of literary noir, Tyler Knox turns Kafka's The Metamorphosis on its head.

In a tale that is more Dashiell Hammett than Franz Kafka, Tyler Knox (a pseudonym of William Lashner) turns Kafka's short story on its head to create the ultimate American immigrant story set against the noir background of 1950s New York. Kockroach is happy with his life, not that he's ever really considered the concept of happiness when one comes down to it, until one day he wakes up and discovers that his normal proud dimensions have been replaced by a new body "ridiculously narrow and soft, its skin beneath a pelt of hair as pale and shriveled as a molting nymph's".

Kafka's Gregor Samsa might have wallowed in despair, but not Kockroach. Cockroaches are the ultimate adapters and after a few days getting to grips with his new body in the privacy of a seedy Times Square hotel, Kockroach, aka Jerry Blatta, is ready to start climbing the dung heap of his new world.

With the assistance of his vertically challenged, low-level hood sidekick, Mite, and his own basic amoral instincts, Kockroach is set to become a powerful player in 1950s New York as he moves up the ladder from gangster to businessman to politician.

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!

Look out for: The bottom right corner of each page of Kockroach which has a little image which, when the pages are flipped, shows the transformation of cockroach into besuited Jerry Blatta.

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in February 2007, and has been updated for the March 2008 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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