At once, Etgar Keret's work is truthful, insightful and fantastical.  His complex stories are filled with potential energy.  Breezing right through them is no problem until you find out that this writer has something else in store.  Something darker, something tragic, something that makes your heart beat.  Watch out for these stories, they are alive.
 
The Nimrod Flipout is full of trickster stories.  Keret creates bizarre alternative realities in order to explore truths about our world and human nature. In the first story, "Fatso", the protagonist's girlfriend comes-a-crying to her darling boyfriend and he has no idea why.   It's something terrible.  He can only guess what it is.   He consoles her and insists it can't be that bad.  She cries, "What if I told you that at night I turn into a heavy, hairy man with no neck, and a gold ring on his pinkie, would you still love me?" The boyfriend, in tune with the fact that this is probably just a test of his love says, "Yes, of course I would."   It's beautiful.  Two lovers in love, making love, sharing a moment as the sun is setting until all of the sudden, the boyfriend is lying next to a fat little man. Keret gives his characters a relationship that skillfully, (and oddly) explores the nature of love, friendship and gender roles in society.

The title story of this collection, "The Nimrod Flipout," sports a few close friends that enlisted in the army together years back.   They are depressed, messed up, and strangely endearing. One day, they all start going temporarily crazy, one after the other in a specific pattern.  The characters in this story are confronted with the sometimes sad truths of life and eerie memories of friends who have passed away.

Sweet fairy tale innocence is embedded in Keret's story "Pride and Joy."  This story is about a growing young boy who has it all.   He's got a sports bike, a girlfriend that let him "touch the boobs she didn't have" and supportive parents that give themselves up so that their son can have a good life.  But it's not as simple as that.   As the little boy Ehud grows taller and taller, his parents get smaller and smaller, literally.  "Every inch added on to the child is an inch subtracted from the parents." Imagine that: pocket size parents that you can carry with you throughout your daily life.

There are stories in this collection that give hope in humanity and true goodness.  Keret has interesting values that are worth getting to know. "Glittery Eyes" is a fable about a glittery little girl who wants something she can never have.   "For only 9.99 (inc. tax and postage)" is a dreamy and punchy story about a man who finds the meaning of life written in a little pamphlet that can be owned for the price noted in the title.   Keret's stories are fascinating and will leave you wanting to develop a book club just to talk about them.  However, I would be a little reluctant to talk to my very prude and proper Grandmother about a story called, "Actually, I've Had Some Phenomenal Hard-ons Lately," a strangely touching story revolving around the real love shared between a dog and his owner.

In an interview with THE BELIEVER, Etgar Keret said that "The whole idea of literature is that you want to break clichés." His attempts at accomplishing this goal are honorable and captivating.   Keret has a great ability to step over cultural boundaries and into a global world of imagination, creativity and connection.  This collection is open-minded and is likely to find a happy home in the treasure section of your bookshelf.

For more information on Etgar Keret, you can check out his website in progress, www.etgarkeret.com.  It has links to his interview in The Believer.
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The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
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The Nimrod Flipout: Stories
by Etgar Keret

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Reviewed by Kerry Marino