‘Fly Already’ by Etgar Keret – Stories Which Are Like Being Shot Out of a Cannon

 

Fly Already’ by Etgar Keret (2019) – 209 pages Translated from the Hebrew by Sandra Silverston, Nathan Englander, Jessica Cohen, Miriam Shlesinger, and Yardenne Greenspan

In the lead-off and title story of this new Etgar Keret collection of stories, a divorced father and his eight year old boy are out for a walk in the city when the boy spots a man standing on the roof of a four story building. The father fears the anxious man is going to jump off the building, and the father yells up, “Don’t do it, please! Whatever brought you up there must seem like something you will never get over, but believe me you will.”

However the boy figures the guy standing on the roof must be a superhero, and the obnoxious kid shouts up to him, “Come on, fly already!”.

This is an ingenious setup for a story, and Etgar Keret follows through to a apt and significant conclusion.

The story “Dad With Mashed Potatoes” begins as follows:

Stella, Ella, and I were almost ten years old the day Dad shapeshifted.”

Yes, in this story the children’s father has shape-shifted into a rabbit. This is about par for the course of an Etgar Keret story.

Because there he was, waiting for us in his armchair, glowing in the full whiteness of his glorious rabbithood, and when we bent to pet him behind the ears, he didn’t try to run away, he just wrinkled his nose with happiness.”

While the situations in ‘Fly Already’ are often outlandish, they are also quite human and poignant. The children in these stories are usually precocious but frequently annoying as kids often are.

It is an enjoyable experience to read Etgar Keret stories, and people ought to read them just to find out what all can be done with a short story by a wildly imaginative writer.

The following is from the story “The Next-to-Last Time I Was Shot Out of a Cannon”:

I’ve never been shot out of a cannon,” I said and took another drag on my cigarette. “Sure you have,” Roman said, “when your ex left you, when your son told you he hates you, when your fat cat ran away. Listen, to be a human cannonball, you don’t need to be flexible or fast or strong, just lonely and miserable as hell.”

I’m not lonely,” I protested. “Really?” Roman laughed. “So tell me – never mind sex, when was the last time someone even smiled at you?”

The story “Todd” is about a woman who meets a man like Todd who is “charming, and in favor of eternal free love and all the other bullshit that men who want to fuck the whole world believe”:

And he gives her a passionate explanation of evolution, of how women are monogamous because they want a male to protect their offspring, and how men are polygamous because they want to impregnate as many women as possible, and how there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s nature, and it’s stronger than any conservative Presidential candidate or Cosmopolitan article called “How to Hold on to Your Husband”.

Read these wild and preposterous stories by Etgar Keret, and I doubt you will be disappointed.

 

Grade:   A-

 

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