BY SEAN CLARK
[Bad Idea Books is a column in which we read an old (or perhaps not) book that is not without merit, but happens to have a very flawed premise. Read other entries here.]
Reviewer’s note: I’m choosing something a little different from the above description this time, as this book isn’t yet published, and I haven’t read it. It is undeniably a bad idea though.
Author: Coleridge Cook (and Franz Kafka, supposedly)
Published: 2011, Quirk Classics
Genre: Literary Mash-up
Bad Idea: “Instead of turning into a bug in ‘The Metamorphosis’, Gregor Samsa should turn into a cat!”
Synopsis: I’m going to let this one speak for itself. Here’s the jacket copy:
The phenomenal success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies inspired a massively popular literary-remix movement. Now Quirk Classics once again charts bold new territory, turning the monster-mash-up formula inside out to infuse Franz Kafka’s horrific masterpiece, “The Metamorphosis,” with the fuzziest, snuggliest, most adorable creatures possible: kittens!
Gregor Samsa is a humble young man who supports his unemployed parents and teenage sister by working as a traveling fabric salesman. But his life goes strangely wrong in the very first sentence of The Meowmorphosis, when he wakes up late for work and discovers that he has inexplicably become an adorable kitten. His family must admit that, yes, their son is now OMG so cute—but what good is cute when there are bills to pay? How can Gregor be so selfish as to devote his attention to a ball of yarn? And how dare he jump out the bedroom window to wander through Kafka’s literary landscape? Never before has a cat’s tale been so poignant, strange, and horrifyingly funny.
The only way this could be lamer is if it were also written in teh kitteh LOLcats voiz. ROFLMFAO.
What Can Go Right?: Nothing. This is quite possibly the stupidest idea for a book I’ve ever heard. The Quirk Classics that have come since Pride and Prejudice and Zombies have been uninspired cash-ins that read like sophomoric rush jobs with a not-that-creative twist. I’m talking about the mashups, but the PaPaZ sequel also looks like a greedy, bad idea too. This takes that to a whole new level.
Why Is This Being Published?: I’m over the literary mash-up thing (and by the way, Quirk, it’s not a movement if you’re more or less the only one doing it–also, the postmodernists beat you to the core concept by a few decades), but even still there are a thousand choices that would actually be creative and work better than this (off the top of my head: All’s Quiet on the Western Front of Armageddon, ThoughtCrime and Punishment, A Midsummer’s Nightmare). The other mashups at least combined the plot and characters of a classic work with a wholly foreign setting and different set of fictional rules. Kafka’s character already woke up in his same world to find he’d become another creature entirely. This does the exact same thing, except it will be a different creature and is written by a nobody who’s at best not any better than Ben H. Winters. There is absolutely no reason why this book should exist. Quirk is clearly a group of people cranking out books that take very little effort to write, and less to sell.
Verdict: Please nobody buy any more of Quirk’s books, maybe that will convince them to go away.