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This writer is nothing short of brilliant. I was constantly astounded by Estrin's range of knowledge--- world history, historical figures, physics, chemistry, music----you name it, Marc Estrin knows it intimately.
And "Insect Dreams" is funny to boot. (Take the time to read or re-read Kafka's Metamorphosis beforeheand---it's short---to get the full impact of Estrin's imaginative take on Gregor Samsa, the roach.)
There were many events in the book that were positively prescient, what with the current threat of terrorism, particularly nuclear, following 9/11. Midway in Samsa's historical journey through World War 11 events, Estrin brings his roach character to Los Alamos and allows the reader into the story of the discovery of nuclear fission and the lives and personalities of the scientists attached to the Manhattan Project and the making of "the bomb".
Coincidentally, I had just read in the newspaper that our government was concerned that Iraq is stockpiling lengths of pipe needed to create a nuclear weapon. And at the same time, I am reading in this novel how it was the brainstorm of one of the scientists to pack neutrons into a length of pipe and create an implosion.
There were many other such "aha" moments in the book.
No surprise then, that I highly recommend this book. It is zany and philosophically right on the money at the same time.
PS. I have never before heard of Marc Estrin so this book was an out of the blue surprise for me. I happened to be browsing the new book section of my local library and got curious.
I read "The Metamorphosis" when I was in high school. I thought it was fascinating. Your book "Insect Dreams" brought the character Gregor Samsa to life. I like the way Marc Estrin incorporated the character's knowledge and love of music. The character of Gregor Samsa shows that you don't have to be completely human to have a human heart. I look forward to reading future books by Marc Estrin.
Great book. At first I wasn't so sure, though the mastery of language was (is) there from the beginning. For a (short) while I wondered if this was one of those books in which the author seems more interested in showing off all he/she knows than in telling a story. This misgiving didn't last long, though, and I was soon caught up in a terrifying comedy, a powerful terrifying comedy, and a powerful terrifying tragedy as well. Gregor is an immensely sympathetic character: one wishes for more such human roaches. And more and more. I bought the book after reading the first page in the bookstore. My best book buy in recent years. The book is also beautifully produced--print, cover, visuals, etc. Thanks, Estrin.