Most readers hear the word “metamorphosis” and think initially of Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis in which a man metamorphosizes into a cockroach. This concept will be familiar to readers of Amanda Marbais’s chapbook, A Taxonomy of Lies, a collection of stories about people living their lives who turn into animals.
The characters, however, continue to behave towards one another as they would if they remained in their original human form. Initially this was comforting to me, but after time I found this unsettling, as it was most likely meant to be. Humans are animals on a regular basis (as anyone watching this year’s presidential debates can attest); if we were to actually turn into animals, wouldn’t one hope that we would then find our humanity?
Herein lies the interest I have in these stories, many of which are short, brief, but succinct. Visual and visceral descriptions pack a punch in such a short collection (less than 30 pages), and yet it is not like much else I have read before. Marbais gives Kafka a run for his money.
A Taxonomy of Lies