A review of

The Nimrod Flipout

by Etgar Keret

Central question: Just how absurd are emotions after all?
Format: 167 pp., paperback; Size: 6.75" x 9.5"; Price: $12; Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Editor: Lorin Stein; Cover design: Lynn Buckley; Typeface: El Dorado; Response to mantle as Israel’s hippest writer: “[I]t’s like being Germany’s best-dressed man, you know?”; Author’s favorite writers, because they are “extremely moral”: Kafka, Vonnegut; Author wrote his first story: In an old bomb shelter during Operation Quasimodo while serving in the Israeli military; Representative sentence: “In the end it was Grandma of all people that he had to pick on.”

Etgar Keret’s Hebrew name translates as “Urban Challenge.” Keret himself has said the name better suits a sneaker model than a young man going through mandatory military service, but it seems fitting in light of his most recent book of short stories, The Nimrod Flipout, which effectively communicates the violence and complexity of contemporary Israel with humor and a touch of the absurd.

What is striking about the thirty brief stories in The Nimrod Flipout (thirteen of them less than four pages long) is that Keret’s vision is both universal and utterly bizarre. When a child takes drastic measures to forestall the steady shrinkage of his parents in “Pride and Joy,” what seems surreal yet believable is the measure of the characters’ devotion, not their eight-inch height. In “Bottle,” a man matter-of-factly puts people into bottles, an ultimately beneficent skill that speaks to our collective fear of darkness and solitude. In “Horsie,” a young woman gives birth to a baby who is adored despite being, well… let’s just say odd.

“We want to fight for the ability to be normal,” Keret said of Israeli writers of his generation in a recent NPR interview. “We want to fight for the ability to talk about what’s private. To talk about emotions… and not our emotions in the national context.” And emotions he certainly depicts: understated, genuine emotions.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Kimberly Chisholm

Kimberly Chisholm has had short fiction published in various literary magazines, most recently Brain, Child, and the Threepenny Review. She has just finished a novel concerning the life of her great-grandfather, the sculptor of Mt. Rushmore.

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