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Suddenly, a Knock on the Door: Stories (edition 2012)

by Etgar Keret, Nathan Englander (Translator), Miriam Shlesinger (Translator), Sondra Silverston (Translator)

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198None59,244 (3.93)43
Member:TanyaTomato
Title:Suddenly, a Knock on the Door: Stories
Authors:Etgar Keret
Other authors:Nathan Englander (Translator), Miriam Shlesinger (Translator), Sondra Silverston (Translator)
Info:FSG Originals (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
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Suddenly, a Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret

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My first encounter with Keret and I'll definitely be back for more. ( )
  beckydj | Mar 23, 2014 |
I can't shake the feeling that there were simply too many tales on display here. For every Kafkaesque or Nabokovian trick of language, there were two tales that did the same exact trick only with diminishing returns. Same for the tales of family and morality. With the short stories, sometimes less is more - Keret proves that himself with some of his shortest stories being the most powerful. Heed that lesson well, reader - and perhaps you'll find more uplifting entertainment here than I did.

Full review TK at RB: http://wp.me/pGVzJ-Mw ( )
  drewsof | Oct 24, 2013 |
Keret really only tells one story: Normal people react to the events of lives which are normal except for one uncanny circumstance. But sometimes the stories are more about the uncanny circumstance, in which case they're funnier and shorter and slighter, and sometimes they're more about the normal people, in which case they can be more tedious, even leaden, as leaden as a 4-page tale can be.

When they really work, though, they're about both, and we learn not only the entertaining details of the unusual circumstance but also insights, perhaps even profound, into the human heart. That's what we get in "Lieland" (which lends the cover illustration its image of a gumball machine—this one, though, opens the door to the realm where everyone's lies come true) and "What, of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?" (the source of the cover's goldfish, though this one talks and grants wishes), as well as a few others like "Healthy Start," "Creative Writing," and "Bad Karma."

Most of the time Keret's shortest pieces are closer to comedy shticks, all about timing, voice, and the punch line. They're good as comedy but they don't have the narrative structure or character development of a real story. They're short-shorts: they deal with types the reader already knows and rely on our assumptions as a shorthand for plot. They're well crafted according to the rules of that genre, but not really pushing the envelope either. A few of them, like "Joseph" and "Guava," hide their human meaning in the punch line, which must be deliberate and must take skill, but it seems perverse of a writer to bury the hook like that. I guess the point might be that real life buries the hook, too, and we often laugh when we should gasp or cry, or vice versa.

Keret's writing (as rendered by three different translators in this volume) is plain, direct, approachable. Most of the time we can't tell whether we're in Israel or New York, and it usually doesn't matter: these are stories about people in general, not about a specific culture. That above all makes the volume a very quick read, and lets you move through fast enough to laugh first and only later consider the implications of what you were laughing about. It also means, as I've (post–writers' conference) started reading short stories to get a better idea of how they work, that I'll hunt down Keret's other collections and gobble them up too. ( )
  localcharacter | Apr 2, 2013 |
Wow, what a ride! Loved it.
Wildly inventive. It's like literary Silly Putty that's been smushed up against color comics, peeled off and then stretched and pulled. It kind of looks the same as the real thing but is weirdly distorted. In a way that is more interesting and alive than the original.
And then it makes you smile. ( )
  BCbookjunky | Mar 31, 2013 |
{The writer} misses the feeling of creating something out of something. That’s right -- something out of something. Because something out of nothing is when you make something up out of thin air, in which case it has no value. Anybody can do that. But something out of something means it was really there the whole time, inside you, and you discover it as part of something new, that’s never happened before.

This collection contains one short story and 34 very short stories and flash fictions translated from the Hebrew. If you’ve read Keret you know exactly what these stories are like. If you haven’t, think Kafka and characters whose denial of their circumstances takes them over the edge into “something out of something” alternate realities where they can feel again.

Very imaginative! Sometimes funny. Together, almost too sad. Still, I liked or loved at least half the stories -- my favorite here is also the first I ever read by Keret, Creative Writing -- and I’d read another of his collections … after I buoy up a bit. ( )
1 vote DetailMuse | Jan 5, 2013 |
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"To Shira"
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"Tell me a story," the bearded man sitting on my living-room sofa commands.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374533334, Paperback)

Bringing up a child, lying to the boss, placing an order in a fast-food restaurant: in Etgar Keret’s new collection, daily life is complicated, dangerous, and full of yearning. In his most playful and most mature work yet, the living and the dead, silent children and talking animals, dreams and waking life coexist in an uneasy world. Overflowing with absurdity, humor, sadness, and compassion, the tales in Suddenly, a Knock on the Door establish Etgar Keret—declared a “genius” by The New York Times—as one of the most original writers of his generation.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:38 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Combines absurd, humorous, and poignant themes that reveal the fierce humanity of characters in surreal situations.

(summary from another edition)

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