"This is a grand comic opera starring a meditative cockroach scuttling through the corridors of power at the fulcrum of the 20th century. An impressive debut, notable for a generous sense of fun."
It seems the Samsas chambermaid only claimed to sweep into the dustbin the twentieth centurys most remarkable contemplative. Instead, having spirited him from his bedchamber, she apparently sold the metamorphosed Gregor to a Viennese sideshow, where---it being 1915---he could earn his living lecturing carnival crowds on the implications of Rilke and Herr Spengler.
In this delightfully original work of imagination, compassion, and good reason, we follow the trajectory of Kafkas salesman-turned-cockroach across two continents and thirty years as he touches the most significant flash points of his time. In the process, Marc Estrin delivers a human saga of cultural ambition and compassionate insight that may be the most surprising addition to Jewish literature in a generation.
Whats more, the book is funny. And Estrins Gregor is downright endearing.
With its reach and substance, Insect Dreams is nothing short of a liberal education---in cultural history, musical theory, nuclear physics, and the world of ideas. But its also a remarkable reading experience. With a scope, heart, and intelligence unparalleled in recent memory, Insect Dreams should spark wide-ranging discussions about who were becoming, now that the swiftest century is complete.
1. TAILS of HOFFNUNG
Wunderkammer Hoffnung---Amadeus Hoffnungs Cabinet of Wonders---had begun as the hobby of a diminutive, shy adolescent: his childhood rock and insect collections, his autographs of singers from the Vienna State Opera, the paintings made by his oddly talented cat, and what was clearly the largest ball of string ever imagined by his otherwise mocking cohorts. The idea that his collection could become a business was far from the thoughts of this lonely child until one day in 1907 when his parents bought a Victrola, the very model pictured on "His Masters Voice."
"You can start saving for your own record collection," his father said.
Karl Maria Hoffnung was not miserly, he simply wanted his son to learn the virtues of discernment and self-sufficiency. "Ill add a crown a week to your allowance, and you can put it away for music. Maybe you could charge people to see your collections," he added, prescient.
Thus began young Amadeuss ...
If you liked Insect Dreams, try these:
Meet Burt Hecker - a mead-drinking, tunic-wearing medieval re-enactor from upstate New York in Tod Wodicka's debut, a modern-day Arthurian quest that introduces one of the most winning oddball characters to come along in years.
It is the mid-1950s; 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. 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 ...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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