The Half Life of Gregor Samsa
By Marc Estrin
(Blue Hen, Hardcover, 9780399148361, 480pp.)
Publication Date: February 18, 2002
List Price: $26.95*
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It seems the Samsas' chambermaid only claimed to sweep into the dustbin the twentieth century's 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 Kafka's 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.
What's more, the book is funny. And Estrin's 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 it's also a remarkable reading experience. With a scope, heart, and intelligence unparalleled in recent memory, Insect Dreams should spark wide-ranging discussions about who we're becoming, now that the swiftest century is complete.
Marc Estrin is a cellist with the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra and the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra. He also performs regularly with a string quartet. In addition, Mr. Estrin is an activist and novelist. Insect Dreams is his first novel. He and his wife live in Burlington, Vermont.