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Insect Dreams: The Half Life Of Gregor Samsa [Paperback]

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Item description for Insect Dreams: The Half Life Of Gregor Samsa by Marc Estrin...

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.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   468
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.5" Width: 6" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 10, 2005
Publisher   Unbridled Books
ISBN  1932961097  
ISBN13  9781932961096  

Availability  0 units.

More About Marc Estrin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Marc Estrin grew up in a small apartment so full of books you had to walk sideways in the hall. Of these, he read not one--till age sixteen, when he gave up his literary virginity to Franz Kafka: The Trial was his introduction to the larger life. This explains much. A mediocre student in high school, he was teased by his father into reading The Magic Mountain during the summer before college. Epiphany! The book was for him a topo-map of western thought and culture. With Mann as his guide, he sailed through college and grad schools, making a Hegelian leap out of graduate science into the richer, if iffier area of the arts. The Vietnam war and Bertolt Brecht were his siren callers into political activity, and his professional theater work dissipated into organizing, college teaching and communal living. When these ceased to put food on the table, he reached back into a past life to study and practice medicine. With the computer came the possibility of writing without retyping--a stimulus sufficient to have resulted in his current crop of manuscripts, published and unpublished.

Marc Estrin currently resides in Burlington, in the state of Vermont.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > War
4Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Thrillers > Psychological & Suspense
5Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Insect Dreams: The Half Life Of Gregor Samsa?

Totally Unbelievable but I Liked It  Jan 26, 2008
If you buy the premise you can buy the conclusion. Of course it's over the top. Just read this site's description above. That's all you should know before jumping in. Umpteen times longer than Metamorphosis but with a much larger story line. You can pick the depth you want to go as a reader. Estrin writes with intelligence and humor; he has obviously done his homework on the historical events. I'm ready to read other of his works.
Great Concept, Disappointing Execution  Jul 19, 2007
Insect Dreams starts out well but after 50 pages or so Gregor Samsa travels to America. After that the book is a rehash of American history from the 1920s to 1945 with Samsa (like Zelig) meeting various celebrities and politicians. As I already knew how that history turned out, the plot held little interest for me.
Completely annoyed me  Jan 6, 2007
I am surprised by the praise heaped on the 'creativity' of this book. I don't know what is so creative about ripping off a character from one of the greatest books of all time. In any case, Samsa's meeting of famous people through history was nothing but an excuse for Marc Estrin to soap box his liberal agenda, culminating in a nuclear-war protest that I am sure Estrin himself has frequently been a part of.

If you don't share Estrin's political philosophy, once you break through the thin creative veneer, you will find yourself, like I did, very annoyed with this work. Estrin tried to cover his own smug viewpoint through the humility of his character (who is actually somewhat likeable), but it didn't work for me.

[Update April 18, 2007]: When I wrote this review, I knew nothing of Estrin, and drew my conclusions by reading between the lines in the book. I just recently happened accross an online interview of him, and sure enough, he's an anti-war activist. Obviously there is nothing wrong with that, but I think it serves to reinforce my postion on the book. If you share Estrins political viewpoint, you will likely enjoy the novel; if not, you will find it as bad as I did.

You should read this book!  Aug 5, 2005
The best book I've read in at least five years.
Well worth the $4.98 I paid for it.  Aug 28, 2004
From the start, I found this a most entertaining book. The author admirably managed to tie in the ideas of the time through such devices as the witty conversation with Wittgenstein and Gregor's Spenglerian seminars. Gregor's perspective throws a new light on such figures, particularly if you're already familiar with them.
The overall plot seemed to drag more than a bit at times, and especially during the third section I found myself less enthused by the prospect of continuing. For this, I give it four stars. The books does manage to pick up again in the fourth section, compressing a good deal of thought and plot in before book has ended.

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