Times Change, And People Change With Them … Some People Love To Play The Victim

Last year while I was attempting to complete the 50 book challenge, I read a lot of contemporary fiction.  When I’m looking for new books to read, this is usually what I gravitate toward.  In addition to contemporary fiction, I also tried to read a few nonfiction books and a few classic fiction novels.

While the book I’m about to review doesn’t qualify as a classic fiction novel, it is a classic set of short stories.  Stories, believe it or not, I had never read before.

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Image courtesy of http://www.goodreads.com.

The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka

209 pages (including introduction and afterword)

I wanted to read Franz Kafka’s famous short story “The Metamorphosis” for quite some time, so I was excited when I found this collection of short stories during one of my visits to Half Price Books.  

I have a love/hate relationship with short story collections.  This is mostly because I generally love only a small portion of the stories.  The rest I either think are just okay or I hate them.  This has been the case with pretty much any short story collection I’ve ever read.  The same doesn’t hold true for collected essays/articles for some reason, though.  I guess with short stories I often feel like there should be more to them … The characters are usually blah and the story itself is obviously not well developed as there really wasn’t time for an author to do that in just a few pages.  There are some phenomenal short stories out there for sure (“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates is a great example), but most are just … Okay.

Thankfully, Franz Kafka is a gifted storyteller and this comes through even in his short stories … Well, many of them.  I won’t lie … There were several stories in this collection that I read and thought, “Uhhh … Really?”  Or, even worse, there were several stories that were so boring I could barely bring myself to get through them (even though most weren’t more than 25 pages or so).  The stories that I enjoyed, though, I really enjoyed.  Those were:

  • “The Metamorphosis”
  • “The Judgment”
  • “In the Penal Colony”
  • “A Hunger Artist”

I won’t go into the plots of each short story, as that would probably take too long.  I would reread the stories I liked in the future, but I’d definitely skip over the ones that I found boring.  I will say that one of the stories, “A Country Doctor,” didn’t even make much sense to me.  I don’t know if this is due to differences in culture, time period, etc.  Maybe I’m just dumb?  I just … Didn’t understand it.  I reread the last couple of pages a few times as I was going through the story and it just seemed … Weird.  And not a good weird like “The Metamorphosis.”

I would recommend at least reading through “The Metamorphosis,” as it’s a classic.  I’m actually surprised it was never required reading for any of my classes in high school or college, but oh well … Better late than never, I suppose.

I would rate this story collection THREE STARS.  This is mostly based on the fact that there are several really interesting, really strong stories included … And those can outweigh the blah, nonsensical, or plain old shitty ones.

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