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BOOK REVIEW: KOCKROACH
BY TYLER KNOX

We hope you enjoy this book review by Cynthia Baxter.

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I don’t know how you feel about Cockroaches, those foul, nasty bugs that scuttle about on the floor…but after you read THIS book – you’ll sure to have a different opinion – you may even become (dare I say?) a fan! Kockroach, spelled with a “K”, is the debut novel of Tyler Knox published in 2006 and recently came out in paperback.

At some point in either High School or College, you probably were introduced to Franz Kafka’s classic story, The Metamorphosis, in which the character Gregor Samsa awakes to find himself transformed into a giant cockroach. In Knox’s noir comedy, a cockroach wakes up one morning as a man and becomes a leading gangster in Times Square during the 1950’s.

This isn’t exactly fictionary revisionism – but I love the twist on the story. And Knox delivers! The cockroach in question – has emerged from a new molt and is not very pleased with the results – this one is large and lacks an exoskeleton as well as the thoracic legs. He cannot fit into the cracks under the baseboards and instead seeks the safety beneath the bed. But he doesn’t stay there long! I love how Tyler Knox works this story – I can only imagine the amount of time this man put in observing cockroaches. He describes the cockroach’s mannerisms as an upright, walking and talking human-shaped bug so vividly that the mental image is hilariously creepy. Take how he walks for example – instead of 6 legs, he’s now down to 4 and they are in the wrong position! And now he has 5 extensions on each leg – so he develops a walk that seems most natural to him as an insect – he makes “peace signs” with his hands to mimic claws and moves his hands and legs in unison – left to left, then right to right. He picks up that humans show their teeth to each other and so he pastes this wide grin on his face and away he goes! This was my absolute favorite part of the book – I had to stop reading to try out the walk – my husband looking at me over the top of his glasses – the raised eyebrows mimicking, I’m sure, what the good people of New York did when they saw the Kockroach making his way through their city streets.

If you go to the website www-dot-kockroach-dot-com – remember that for this book cockroach is spelled with a K – you’ll find that it is set up to match the theme of the book – a noir, vintage New York – the language is that of the streets. Click on The Players and you will see half a chessboard with the various supporting characters as rooks and pawns and of course, Kockroach is King. Clever, very clever. There is a Reading Guide for book clubs and I loved reading the comments in the Konfessional section – the best describing the books as “a dark, twisty treat.” And I agree most heartedly with the others – yes, Mr. Knox – please give us more!So fix yourself a giant bowl of shrimp on ice, sit back and enjoy this ride with the Kockroach and his pals.

REVIEWED BY CYNTHIA BAXTER

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, CYNTHIA BAXER


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