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August 7, 2020 | Rome, Italy

The Nimrod Flipout

By | 2018-03-21T18:27:54+01:00 February 1st, 2007|Recent Reviews|

By Etgar Keret, translated from the Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger and Sondra Silverston

Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2006. 167 pages.

One story title all but sums it up “A Thought in the Shape of a Story.” Keret’s slew of eccentric half-tales are populated by enigmatic, bombed-out souls that reek of sex and bad choices. His Israel is an amalgam of drudgery and blue-collar black magic. Ronel’s “beloved dog” Darko licks his balls but ends up dead; this is Keret’s typical atypical. Elsewhere is a girl nicknamed NASDAQ; talking fish; hemorrhoids that “the open like flowers in springtime”; a woman who gives birth to a midget pony, masochistic moon-dwellers, and a cat who’s “had it” with Israeli life. Since few of Keret’s fables run more than a few pages, surface tension — both tender or brittle — stands in for depth, precariously so.

Two of the better stories, “Fatso” and “Your Man,” are “Metamorphosis” knock-offs. In “Fatso” a hot date morphs into a squat fat man, and back; in “Your Man,” a vulgar dwarf is a metaphysical pimp in disguise. At their best, these 30-something characters gnaw at personal eccentricities to reveal the psychosis that is life in Keret’s disturbed Israel (“a lump of sweat and dirt that’s developed a consciousness…”) Too often, though, the people are merely thoughts in the shape of souls spewing black humor for effect.

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