Naked Metamorphosis – Eric Mays
So, what would happen if Hamlet had been written as a weird comedy? And what if it hadn't been the Bard who wrote it, but Franz Kafka?
The answer is Naked Metamorphosis. Hamlet is a drug addled pampered prince who's convinced he's turning into a cockroach, Ophelia has brain damage, Polonius runs the kingdom, and the whole thing is seen through Horatio's eyes! But wait, there's more. Puck's also about – popping up from behind a handy door and screwing with everything. The rude mechanicals are about too. MacBeth and Othello get an honorable mention, so this is a Bizarro tribute to Shakespeare not just the Dane. And not just that, Kafka also gets drawn into his own creation.
I really enjoyed this, let's get that out of the way first and foremost. This is one of the original NBAS releases from 2009 and it's just plain old fun. I have to admit, I'm a big Shakespeare fan, and especially Hamlet. You might think this would make me hesitant for someone to muck around with it, but nope. Have at it. You're up against Shakespeare, but don't let that stop you. And Eric Mays does a fabulous job here.
It's screwy and fun. There are the normal parts of Hamlet, the characters, the play within a play. But there is new stuff in here too. Puck is a particularly inspired choice, and I loved every time the crazy fairy turned up.
Horatio is also a good choice by Mays as our protagonist. He's our sensible anchor in a sea of craziness. Although I personally would have loved to have seen some of the big Hamlet speeches riffed on a bit more, but you can't have everything.
This book is slightly straighter than some others in bizarro – that's not a bad thing. It's a good introduction to the whole genre. It's also slightly light on any emotional impact – Horatio is mainly confused or exasperated, but I didn't feel the stakes were that high for him. But too be honest I'm having far too much fun with Puck to wonder about the heavier meaning of life stuff which is absent or lightly used.
So, why should you care? Well, apart from Eric Mays being a brother NBASer this book is really fun. It's well written with some good imaginative ideas thrown in, and Puck is the ace in the hole for this novella – if in doubt throw on Puck to screw things up.
Overall, check it out for some Shakespearean/Kafka twisted fun.