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.
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.