From Publishers Weekly
Keret, an Israeli writer who also writes children's books and collaborates with illustrators on graphic stories and novels, specializes in brainteasing short short stories reminiscent of the "Shouts and Murmurs" section of the New Yorker
—30 are packed in this thin volume. A typical Keret situation is enacted in "Your Man": the narrator finds that his girlfriends inexplicably break up with him in the back of taxicabs while the radio always announces a caller from a certain address. He goes to the address, finds photos of his exes tacked to the wall and erupts in violence, with repercussions that give new meaning to masochism. Dogs play a role in Keret's stories similar to the sly role they assume in Thurber cartoons, hovering between the fantastic and the everyday, and sex is an obsession ("Actually, I've Had Some Phenomenal Hardons Lately" is one story's title.) In "Fatso," a man's girlfriend confides a secret: she turns into a rotund male at night. Like French surrealist Marcel Aymé, Keret keeps his stories one dimensional, but it's a dimension he has mastered, one that peels away the borderlines of normalcy. (Apr.)
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Once you know that Keret's work has been featured on NPR's This American Life
and Selected Shorts
, it becomes hard to think of these 30 pieces as short stories. The adenoidal 35--going-on-13 tones of the former program's host grate in the mind like the voices of Woody Allen, Shelley Berman, and other ur
-stand-ups, and the veil is parted. These aren't stories, they're routines! They're mostly told in the third person by the same kind of guys (once, gal) as the protagonists: schlemiels, though the singles among them are also slackers.^B They're modern young Israelis fixated on sex, unable to make lasting connections, frustrated to quiet madness, and feckless as . . . a stand-up's persona. Most of their stories are could-be realistic, a few are ultimately sentimental, and the best are arguably the fantasies, such as the volume opener, whose protagonist has a girlfriend ("the sex is dynamite") who becomes a fat, hairy, party-animal guy at night, and is still as much fun to be with. Vulgar, sad-sacky stuff, but amusing. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved