“’This story is beautiful,’ my brother said. ‘I love it. Do you have another copy of it?’ I said ‘Yes’ and a second later my brother bent down and picked the dog crap with the one page story. It was right then when I decided that I wanted to be a writer.”
-Etgar Keret, on writing his first story
Etgar Keret first told me this in my senior year of college, when I had just realized that I wanted to be a writer. I was fanatical for his book, The Girl on the Fridge, and was still learning what a good story could do to people.
Keret’s absurdist short shorts kickbox readers into new and magical realms of consciousness. In his newest collection, Suddenly a Knock at the Door: Stories, he delivers classic knock-knock jokes with a twist. His stories always have a stranger, a surprise, a god or a demon, or unrecognizable versions of our selves behind the door.
Because his stories simmer in realist premises and then explode, his fiction has been lumped into the new wave of magical realism. However, Keret tells me that he doesn’t care about these categories; he cares about the reading experience.
“I don’t want to be known for anything,” he says. “I just want people to connect to what I write. When they do, it makes me feel less lonely.”
His characters really do seem to concern themselves with communicating that loneliness. They appear to us in every moment and interaction to be quietly searching, reaching for companionship.
In a Keret story, even an erection is a sign of hope.
Keret reminds us, “An erection is nothing more than a physical manifestation of optimism and as it is with manifestations of optimism, most of the time they have nothing to do with the reality around you.”
There is so much honesty in these gestures. Suddenly a Knock at the Door is collection as honest as it is enigmatic.
279 HARVARD ST.