Sunday, March 09, 2008

Entomological Dysplasia: Can I Really Turn Into a Bug?

An op-ed article called "A Bug’s Life. Really." in today's New York Times has got people questioning whether entomological dysplasia, an affliction in which a person can develop the anatomical features of an insect, has got people wondering if this is a real condition. The op-ed questions whether the main character in Kafka's “The Metamorphosis" is really fiction, since the article suggests that entomological dysplasia is a real condition.

Never fear, you won't turn into a cockroach. Entomological dysplasia is indeed a nonexistent disorder. The author of the op-ed, Mark Leyner, is simply riffing on the recent spate of cases in which memoirists have been found to have made up their stories.

The fact that Leyner refers to Kafka as still living is I guess his tip-off that the article is fictional (Kafka died in the 1920s). Another tip-off, for those who know of Mark Leyner, is that he is the author of this piece. The the bio at the end of the op-ed it simply said that Leyner is a novelist and screenwriter, or something like that. But many people would refer to Leyner as a "comic novelist" or "humorous novelist": his novels are usually offbeat humor with titles such as "My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist" and "Et tu, Babe?"

Leyner is also co-author of the (mostly) nonfiction books, "Why Do Men Have Nipples?" and "Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?"

So if you're worried about entomological dysplasia can rest easy. You won't be sprouting antennae or a shell anytime soon. (Unless you live near a nuclear reactor in a town called Springfield populated by yellow-skinned people.)

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