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Suddenly, a Knock on the Door: Stories Paperback – March 27, 2012
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“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
About the Author
Born in Tel Aviv in 1967, Etgar Keret is the author of six bestselling story collections. His writing has been published in Harper's Magazine, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and Zoetrope. Jellyfish, his first movie as a director along with his wife, Shira Geffen, won the Camera d'Or prize for best first feature at Cannes in 2007. In 2010 he was named a Chevalier of France's Order of Arts and Letters.
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Top customer reviews
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- who have no sense for the absurd,
- who don't enjoy short stories with open ends,
- who do not care to see realistic interpersonal relations even if they don't look pretty,
- who have no sense of dark humor,
- who are dogmatic and self righteous,
will most likely not enjoy this book.
I loved it for all the above reasons and more.
I loved it because it is weird, sad, cruel, humorous like life, because some stories begin and end abruptly like glimpses into someone elses life through a keyhole.
Because it does have a lot to do with our reality in Israel but not just.
But most of all because I sense a deep compassion of the author for his fellow beings and the absurd relations and situations they navigate themselves into and how they really don't have much choice.
And last but not least, because it is really well translated, as I myself am not able to read the Hebrew original.
My first book by Etgar Keret which was given to me by my teenage son who adores Keret and read everything by him.
And now I adore Keret too. Having said this not everything my bibliophile kids are excited about resonates with me.
The eponymous and first story starts with a directive: "Tell me a story." Under gunpoint, the narrator - Etgar - is ordered to make up a story. He is interrupted early on: "That's not a story...That's an eyewitness report. It's exactly what's happening here and now. Exactly what we're trying to run away from. Don't you go and dump reality on us like a garbage truck. Use your imagination, man, create, invent, take it all the way."
I quoted that passage at length because it's really the raison d'etre of the collection. Etgar, an Israeli writer, leaves the politics and the moral quandaries to others such as David Grossman, Amos Oz and Nathan Englander. His stories focus on the escape from reality through stories that stretch and define us.
Some - as would be the case with any collection - are better than others. I'll call out a few: Lieland, where the subjects of lies become real, is one of my favorites. The protagonist, Robbie, learns that his lies live and thrive in another dimension and he meets his "lies come alive" simply by turning a handle.
Teamwork, another fine story, starts like this: "My son wants me to kill her. He's still young and doesn't express this perfectly yet, but I know exactly what he's after." The "her" refers to his maternal grandmother; he is the product of divorce and a brutal plan is soon imagined by his obsequious father. Or take another story: Unzipping; in it, the narrator finds a small zipper under her lover's tongue; when she pulls it, he opens up "like an oyster" with a second man revealed. One more: Mourner's Meal. a very recent widow opens up her failing restaurant the morning after his funeral, and gains connection with a group of strangers.
Not all the stories succeed as well; it makes me wish there were a way I could rate this a 4.5. But the ones that DO shine are so luminous that it is hard for me not to rate upward.
What a wild adventure that was. Felt like I was popping into dark dreamscapes and some I wanted to stay in longer while others were just the right length of time. While non of the stories were connected I still felt something between each some with a following story and some several stories apart. Definitely got wrapped up in several of them.
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