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Anxious Pleasures

A Novel After Kafka

List Price: $15.00

February 10, 2007 | Ppaerback | 5 x 7, 176 Pages | ISBN 9781593761356
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"Intricately woven and richly imagined, Olsen's novel is a cerebral treat unto itself and a fine companion to Kafka's original." —Publishers Weekly

Anxious Pleasures takes Franz Kafka’s profoundly haunting and sad comic novella, The Metamorphosis, and reanimates it through the vantage points of those who surrounded Gregor Samsa during his plight. All the familiar characters are here, including the hysterical mother, stern father, faithless sister, and the pragmatic household cook. But we are also introduced to, among others, the would-be author downstairs who daydreams of the narrative he may someday compose and a young woman in contemporary London reading Kafka’s slim book for the first time.

Or do they all comprise a few of the disturbing dreams from which Gregor is about to snap awake one morning to find himself transformed into a monstrous vermin? In the tradition of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours and John Gardner’s Grendel, Olsen’s novel not only represents a collaboration with a ghost, but, too, a celebration, augmentation, complication, and devoted unwriting of a momentously influential text.

LANCE OLSEN is the author of more than a dozen works of fiction, including Nietzsche’s Kisses and Girl Imagined by Chance. Winner of a 2006 NEA grant and recipient of a Pushcart Prize, he has published widely in periodicals such as the Iowa Review, Hudson Review and Village Voice. He lives in Idaho.


“Following Nietzsche’s Kisses (2006), Olsen treats another great modernist to postmodernist investigation, this time retelling Kafka’s The Metamorphosis from the supporting cast’s points-of-view. Olsen hews closely to the original, and his additions, excursions and elaborations are simultaneously stimulating and entertaining… Intricately woven and richly imagined, Olsen’s novel is a cerebral treat unto itself and a fine companion to Kafka’s original.” —Publishers Weekly

“Combining his dexterity for cutting-edge experimentation and a love of classic literature, Olsen takes on Franz Kafka’s surreal novella The Metamorphosis and ingeniously adapts the story line to multiple perspectives… This variation allows Olsen free rein to incorporate stray biographical details from Kafka’s life and allusions to his other work…” —Booklist

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