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Suddenly, a Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret
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Suddenly, a Knock on the Door (edition 2012)

by Etgar Keret, Miriam Shlesinger, Sondra Silverston, Nathan Englander

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2391448,266 (3.93)45
-Eva-'s review
As usual (this is Keret after all), here is a collection of stories of the sometimes surreal, the sometimes bizarre, the sometimes humdrum, all with an insight into something much bigger than expected. Stories like the one about a lonesome Russian with a magic goldfish, a dead wife reincarnated in a French Poodle, and a girl who unzips her boyfriend and finds a completely different man inside are not uncommon to Keret, they are indeed to be expected, but there is always that other side, the human side, to the madness - Keret is an absolute master at seeing the world in a grain of sand and this new collection is only more proof of the same brilliance. ( )
2 vote -Eva- | Apr 15, 2012 |
All member reviews
Showing 14 of 14
A collection of short stories, with usual the Etgar Keret themes: the surrealism of living in Israel, suicide, alternative personal histories and women who disappear out of your life. Not as good as (or maybe less of a surprise than) the first book of his that I read (Happy Campers), but still a very enjoyable and wistful read. ( )
  fist | Jul 19, 2014 |
As someone who writes for a living, Keret’s way to dish out ideas by the dozen is borderline annoying: “Here’s a great concept which gets three pages, here’s a clever idea which gets, um, four and a half”. He uses exactly as much text as he needs to to present each story, and not a line more: an angel is faced with someone who actually wishes for world peace with his dying breath. A man wakes up from a coma, and can’t find a way to explain to his wife how much more wonderful it was than being awake. And three distant business acquaintances find themselves the only guests at a birthday party – and the birthday boy seems to have gone missing. A contract killer finds Hell is very different than he thought.

Some stories here are more everyday, borderline realistic, than I’ve read from Keret before. The blend in this book seems eclectic and all over the place, but somehow also works fantastically as a whole. Most impressive of all is that Keret isn’t just about the clever idea and the cool twist. He also manages to conjure interesting, relatable characters and say something about life in contemporary Israel. This is truly a big bag of delicious nibbles. Great, great, great stuff. ( )
1 vote GingerbreadMan | Apr 22, 2014 |
I was surprised on how quickly Suddenly, a Knock on the Door pulled me in. I only said that I would only read the first story which shares its name with the title and I wound up read the first 80 pages. Keret's short stories are so captivating, quirky, weird, hilarious, and compelling that it is extremely hard to to stop reading.

Since Keret, I am assuming, is an Israeli author, his stories were translated by three different people. My favorites were "Suddenly, a Knock on the Door,""Lieland,""Cheesus Christ,""The Polite Little Boy,""One Step Beyond," and "Parallel Universes."

I definitely want to read more from this author. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
I was surprised on how quickly Suddenly, a Knock on the Door pulled me in. I only said that I would only read the first story which shares its name with the title and I wound up read the first 80 pages. Keret's short stories are so captivating, quirky, weird, hilarious, and compelling that it is extremely hard to to stop reading.

Since Keret, I am assuming, is an Israeli author, his stories were translated by three different people. My favorites were "Suddenly, a Knock on the Door,""Lieland,""Cheesus Christ,""The Polite Little Boy,""One Step Beyond," and "Parallel Universes."

I definitely want to read more from this author. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
I was surprised on how quickly Suddenly, a Knock on the Door pulled me in. I only said that I would only read the first story which shares its name with the title and I wound up read the first 80 pages. Keret's short stories are so captivating, quirky, weird, hilarious, and compelling that it is extremely hard to to stop reading.

Since Keret, I am assuming, is an Israeli author, his stories were translated by three different people. My favorites were "Suddenly, a Knock on the Door,""Lieland,""Cheesus Christ,""The Polite Little Boy,""One Step Beyond," and "Parallel Universes."

I definitely want to read more from this author. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
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 |
You must read Etgar Keret, and this collection is a good a choice as any to do so. Sometimes sad, sometimes funny, usually quirky, and sometimes downright strange, these stories are wonderful bite-sized bits of irony, pain, humor, and wit. If you don't like one, just start on the next one. You'll find something in here that you'll treasure.

Os. ( )
  Osbaldistone | Oct 15, 2012 |
it takes a moment to get used to this kind of humor, but once yiu are in the mood for it, it is pretty funny or weird or corky. but then again half way through it turned too corky for me and i lost interest. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Jul 20, 2012 |
This short story collection is bizarre, hilarious, intriguing and puzzling. In the title story, a man is held hostage in his apartment and forced to tell a story. He begins with the line "Suddenly, a knock on the door..." and immediately there IS a knock on the door. The gunman insists that the pizza delivery man - tho' no one has called for a pizza - come inside. The apartment owner begins again, incorporating the pizza delivery into the story and then once more uttering the fatal phrase with identical results. The tale grows stranger with each new arrival to fulfill the gunman's demand that his hostage discard reality and use his imagination - and yet each element simply recounts the actual sequence of events.
A more poignant tale features a talking, wish-granting goldfish. Others focus on parenting and family relationships. Each is unique; each is engaging. Enjoy! ( )
1 vote amac121212 | May 29, 2012 |
As usual (this is Keret after all), here is a collection of stories of the sometimes surreal, the sometimes bizarre, the sometimes humdrum, all with an insight into something much bigger than expected. Stories like the one about a lonesome Russian with a magic goldfish, a dead wife reincarnated in a French Poodle, and a girl who unzips her boyfriend and finds a completely different man inside are not uncommon to Keret, they are indeed to be expected, but there is always that other side, the human side, to the madness - Keret is an absolute master at seeing the world in a grain of sand and this new collection is only more proof of the same brilliance. ( )
2 vote -Eva- | Apr 15, 2012 |
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