From the Publisher
“Keret is a brilliant writer . . . completely unlike any writer I know. He is the voice of the next generation.” Salman Rushdie
“Keret may be the most important writer working in Israel right now; certainly he is the closest observer of its post-intifada, post-Oslo spiritual condition. And astonishingly, he is also the Israeli writer closest to the literary tradition of pre-Israel, pre- Holocaust European Jewry . . . Kafka said that literature should be an ax to break the frozen sea within us. Keret is a writer whaling at the ice with a Wiffle ball bat.” Stephen Marche, The Forward
“Short, strange, funny, deceptively casual in tone and affect, stories that sound like a joke but aren't--Etgar Keret is a writer to be taken seriously.” Yann Martel
“Keret can do more with six . . . paragraphs than most writers can with 600 pages.” Kyle Smith, People
…when Keret's stories work, they present an extraordinary vision, a fresh, original and effective portrait of a society and its beleaguered young men. In three-page bursts, he shows us an Israel no longer filled with pioneers and heroes but with ordinary peoplea view from the ground, as genuine as it is bleak.
The New York Times
Advocates of flash fiction contend you can say a lot with a little. Unfortunately, you can also say a little with a little. Israeli writer Keret (The Nimrod Flipout) confirms both with this hodgepodge of 46 sketches, culled from his first collection. There are whimsical tales like "Nothing," about a woman who "loved a man who was made of nothing" because "this love would never betray her," and "Freeze!" about a guy who can stop the world and uses the power to score with hot girls. Despite an appealing, comic voice, many of these pieces feel insubstantial and leave the reader indifferent. Nevertheless, a haunting theme arises as stories featuring violence accumulate: "Not Human Beings," in which an Israeli soldier is beaten by fellow officers when he objects to the cruel treatment of an old Arab man, screams in the face of bloodshed, whereas the irritation of the father in "A Bet," when TV news reports on an Arab sentenced to death preempts an episode of "Moonlighting," suggests how violence has been normalized. Keret demonstrates how the same short form that produces ineffective trifles can also create moments of startling power. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Forty-six stories in a range of tones and styles, from slapstick to surrealism. The stories vary in length between one and eight pages, and Keret (stories: The Nimrod Flipout, 2006, etc.) is able to squeeze a lot between the covers. Many of his characters are not overburdened by introspective tendencies. There's Nahum, for example, whose childhood "seemed like a cavity in somebody else's tooth-unhealthy, but no big deal, at least not to him," and Mindy, who in answer to her husband's query (why does she buy "crap" like superglue?) snaps back, " ‘the same reason I married you . . . to kill time.' " Some stories, like "Hat Trick," focus on the outre, in this case a magician whose climactic trick is the banal one of pulling a rabbit out of a hat. One day, in front of a bored and diminished audience at a child's birthday party, he succeeds only in pulling out the rabbit's bloody head, much to the consternation of the magician but to the delight and enthusiasm of the partygoers. He finds that with this new trick he's much more in demand. "The Summer of '76" looks at the serene and happy reality of a child oblivious to most of the craziness surrounding him. "Knockoff Venus" has a nameless narrator who confesses to his therapist that he "needed something I could believe in. A great love that would never go away." His therapist recommends he get a dog. In "Not Human Beings," a soldier named Stein tries to put together in some coherent way his impressions of what's happening in Gaza: "He tried to put all the images together into a single, coherent reality, but he couldn't."Stein's dilemma is emblematic of Keret's method: The stories read like fragments of reality-personal, political and evenmetaphysical. It's hard to know how to piece them together.
Read an Excerpt
THE GIRL ON THE FRIDGE (Asthma Attack)
When you have an asthma attack, you can’t breathe. When you can’t breathe, you can hardly talk. To make a sentence all you get is the air in your lungs. Which isn’t much. Three to six words, if that. You learn the value of words. You rummage through the jumble in your head. Choose the crucial ones—those cost you too. Let healthy people toss out whatever comes to mind, the way you throw out the garbage. When an asthmatic says “I love you,” and when an asthmatic says “I love you madly,” there’s a difference. The difference of a word. A word’s a lot. It could be stop, or inhaler. It could even be ambulance.
THE GIRL ON THE FRIDGE Copyright © 1992, 1994 by Etgar Keret