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“I feel that the best thing that can happen to a writer is for someone to interpret your text. It is a great experience, listening to your words.” – Etgar Keret
“An all-star roster of narrators masterfully performs the audio edition of Keret’s latest collection, which mixes humor, emotion, absurdity, morality, and humility…the result is a truly inspired series of performances and an utterly entertaining audiobook. Listening quickly becomes a compulsion.” – Publishers Weekly
“Examples of the talented narrators include Josh Charles, who has a deep, round tone and a gentle manner that perfectly complements the author’s words, and Adam Thirlwell’s British accent, which supports a strong, robust reading about lying. It’s an excellent audio and literary experience.” – AudioFile Magazine
“Keret’s greatest book yet—the most funny, dark, and poignant. It’s tempting to say these stories are his most Kafkaesque, but in fact they are his most Keretesque.” —Jonathan Safran Foer
“Etgar Keret’s stories are funny, with tons of feeling, driving towards destinations you never see coming. They’re written in the most unpretentious, chatty voice possible, but they’re also weirdly poetic. They stick in your gut. You think about them for days. “ —Ira Glass, host and producer of This American Life
“Strangeness abounds. Keret fits so much psychological and social complexity and metaphysical mystery into these quick, wry, jolting, funny, off-handedly fabulist miniatures, they’re like literary magic tricks: no matter how closely you read, you can’t figure out how he does it.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist (March 15)
“His pieces elicit comparison to sources as diverse as Franz Kafka, Kurt Vonnegut and Woody Allen . . . [Keret is] a writer who is often very funny and inventive, and occasionally profound.” —Kirkus Reviews (March 15)
“Israeli author Keret writes sometimes appealingly wacky, sometimes darkly absurdist stories that translate well to America . . . Sophisticated readers should check this out.” —Library Journal, pre-pub alert
“In this slim volume of flash fiction and short stories, Israeli author/filmmaker Keret (The Nimrod Flipout; the film Jellyfish) writes with alternating Singeresque magical realism and Kafkaesque absurdity.” —Publishers Weekly
“This collection of short stories brims with invention . . . Etgar Keret is a great short story writer whose work is all the greater because it’s funny . . . [He] most becomes himself in comedy shorts, telling tales of the absurd and the surreal . . . As one of the 20th century’s great comic writers—and one of Keret’s true precursors—might have said, so it goes . . . To complain about Keret being Keret is like complaining about Chekhov being Chekhov.” —Ian Sansom, The Guardian
“[Keret] deserves full marks for chutzpah . . . His work zings with imaginative conceits, clever asides and self-conscious twists. Yet there is also an easygoing quality to his writing that makes the 37 stories collected here instantly likeable . . . his stories assume an anecdotal style that gives them an air of spontaneity, as if he were relating them over a cup of coffee in one of the Tel Aviv cafes frequented by his characters . . . Keret’s willingness to develop quirky concepts (one story features a magic, talking goldfish) would seem to grant him a place alongside such idiosyncratic writers as Robert Walser, Franz Kafka, Kurt Vonnegut and Italo Calvino. But if his work is sometimes reminiscent of these writers, it also carves out its own territory.” —James Ley, The Sydney Morning Herald
“A brilliant writer . . . completely unlike any writer I know. The voice of the next generation.” —Salman Rushdie
“Keret can do more with six . . .paragraphs than most writers can with 600 pages.” —Kyle Smith, People
Hilarious, poignant, wildly imaginative: the finely honed fiction of Etgar Keret—declared a genius by The New York Times—has earned international applause. With Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, this bestselling author brings us more than thirty global tales of karmic revenge, unruly children, solitary lovers, the weirdness of the workplace, and other aspects of human existence. Many of the stories are infused with uncanny images as characters pass between dream worlds and waking ones, or life and afterlife. This is a collection populated with a magical goldfish, a guava paralyzed by a fear of falling, and a well-mannered story that politely bends to the will of the public. Combining the wry wisdom of Kafka with the comedic mastery of Woody Allen, these rich vignettes capture the absurdities of our uneasy world.
The questions and discussion topics that follow are designed to enhance your reading of Etgar Keret's Suddenly, a Knock on the Door. We hope they will enrich your experience as you explore this kaleidoscopic masterwork of modern fiction.
QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
1. How were you affected by the way the title story and the closing story, "What Animal Are You?," describe writers versus audiences? Does the story in "The Story, Victorious" fulfill the high expectations that were set for it?
2. If you were to pull the arm of the gumball machine in "Lieland," what would you encounter? Who were the most interesting characters in your past lies?
3. Suddenly, a Knock on the Door features many scenes of unresolved love, from Miron in "Healthy Start," who is willing to get punched for someone else's infidelity so that he can experience human interaction, to the narrator of "Not Completely Alone," whose beloved is involved with a married man. Which of the book's love stories resonated the most with you?
4. Most of the book's characters face a startling fate: "Cheesus Christ" features a butterfly effect involving clinical depression, miscommunication, and sheer bad luck; Simyon dies in a terrorist attack, leaving behind a widow who barely knew him but will enjoy the pension; Oshri in "Bad Karma" survives when jumper Nattie lands on his head, but Oshri is wistful for his comatose days. What do the book's death tales tell us about survival?
5. What common traits are shared by all the characters, regardless of whether they are Arab, Israeli, or American? Does gender affect the personalities of the characters, or are the book's men and women equally neurotic/rational, pushy/passive?
6. How did you react to the final scenes in "Pick a Color" and "One Step Beyond?" What interpretation of God is offered in each of these stories?
7. Reincarnation abounds in this collection, from Bertha in "Bitch," who becomes a traveling poodle, to Shkedi in "Guava," who arranges for peace on earth but becomes a terrified guava. If you were to be reincarnated as a nonhuman, what would your best and worst options look like?
8. In stories of punishment, such as "A Good One" (in which entrepreneur Gershon gets clobbered by a security guard while trying to market his board game, Stop—Police), is there any justice? Or is there only irony?
9. How did the collection's depictions of children (ranging from "The Polite Little Boy" to the demanding Hillel in "Big Blue Bus") compare to your memories of childhood? What does Roiki's story in "Teamwork" say about the way parents explain the world to their children, and the aspects of childhood we never leave behind?
10. Discuss the power and achievements of the hemorrhoid in the story by the same name. Is the hemorrhoid an allegorical character that can teach us important life lessons? Or is it just incredibly funny?
11. Several of the stories address financial issues directly, especially "September All Year Long" and "Grab the Cuckoo by the Tail." What does Suddenly, a Knock on the Door say about the relationship between wealth and doom?
12. What, of the goldfish, would you wish?
13. In stories such as "Unzipping" and "Pudding," the characters assume new identities in an instant. How does Keret make his surrealism seem realistic?
14. What universal fears and longings are expressed in the intertwining lives of "Surprise Party"?
15. Suddenly, a Knock on the Door features more than a hundred characters and dozens of sometimes interlocking story lines. What does this indicate about the versatility of short fiction? What can short stories achieve that a novel can't?
Posted September 23, 2012
Posted April 28, 2012
Posted March 27, 2012
No text was provided for this review.