Metamorphosis

By Doug Nufer

In Metamorphosis, Doug Nufer first metamorphoses The Metamorphosis, Kafka’s famous story, by subjecting a composite English translation of Kafka’s full text to anagrammatic transformations that carefully retain the semantic outline of the original, but submerge it into the bubbling stew of zany detail that emerges from Nufer’s richly inventive, often hilarious, and strangely beautiful wordplay. Then he turns his attention to an iconic excerpt from the beginning of the German text, rendering it into a dizzyingly diverse series of shapes and effects by various technical means in a virtuosic demonstration reminiscent of Queneau’s Exercises in Style. “I wonder where my project belongs,” Nufer writes in an afterword; “Maybe the appeal of venturing into a maze of translations and other constraints is analogous to the appeal a traveling salesman living with his parents and sister at the turn of the last century might have felt when, at the end of another awful day of work, he took up his needles to play.”