The Life of Insects is not for the Disney-minded, though it delves quite frequently in the silly and absurd, and uses animals — well, insects — to represent people. The book is written as a comical Metamorphosis, at times witty, silly, morbid and profound. Humanity is viewed as insects through some dismal, cosmic microscope. We are the insects always trying to find the light, but finding only darkness, pushing along a ball of dung (our corporeal body) and never rising above our materialistic predicament. As much as the novel describes these squalid Russian characters living in a sad state of affairs, reduced to the cruel plight of an insect existence, Pelevin is also pointing out that the majority of these characters are weak-minded in the first place, never questioning their dim fate and resigned to make contact only with dung. Pelevin’s prose slaps the reader in the face, both poetic and philosophical, a mix of Bukowski, Emily Dickinson and Andy Goldsworthy, a stark raving loner, content to watch the paint peel and pick up from it designs of brutal bent.
Bonus points for being about insects. I friggin’ love insects.
The Life of Insects by Victor Pelevin. Translated by Andrew Bromfield. Pub. 1998 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Hardcover, 179 pages. ISBN13: 9780374186258