Remember the short story collection review I did a long time ago: The Bus Driver who Wanted to be God, by Etgar Keret. He is also the author of the book I’m going to review next. It’s a collection of his own life stories with an ironic end to it. He talked about everything. From love, to the bible and to his childhood twisted fantasies; from musings on aging, airlines, the writing life, and to humanities general oddness. I never get tired of rereading the story over and over again in my spare time.
The Seven Good Years is a an autobiography written over a coarse of seven year. Everything is just Keret’s short thought, his quick mind at the moment which he recorded. In a certain sense, it would more accurately be described as a series of very short essays.The story started at the time when his son was born, which was happened at the hospital, a little bit after bombing attack. Keret was mistaken as a bomb victim by an apparently very pesky journalist who was kicked out of the hospital at least three times. As his son was born, he wrote his fears about how his son could grow up in the future: a self hating Jew or a drug dealer? I wonder what his son would say when he reads his dad’s memoir when he grows older. I think it’s something along this line: ‘Dad! What exactly were you thinking when you wrote this?’
Keret’s The Seven Good Year is more into comedy, twisting his stories into a cruel kind of humour. As a second generation Jew, he lived in a kind of constant paranoid fear of his future. He had several fleeting moments of wondering whether a person liked him deserves a life at all. He even had dreams/nightmares about being in a place where nobody knew him. A place where he was scared, cornered. The situation was understandable. Keret himself was part of the ‘second generation’, a generation after Adolf Hitler created a mass genocide in the Second World War towards the Nazis. But reading the short journal entries that he wrote about the topic made me feel like I’m reading a parody version of an autobiography of a war victim. They are witty — usually with a gentle sting in the tail.
Let’s backtrack and look a little bit into Keret’s personal background. Edgar Keret is an Israel Jew born on August 20, 1967. He had received many special awards over the years like the ‘Prime Minister’s Award for Literature’ and the ‘Ministry of Cultures Cinema Prize.’ He was also a judge for several notable writing competitions, meaning that he is leading a good and promising career.
What about siblings? Does Keret have siblings? It is mentioned in several sites that Etgar was the third child in his family, but was it mentioned in The Seven Good Year? My relationship with my sister is moderate. We pretty much fight a lot, but at the same time we know what each other is thinking. For example, at a party my sister would go out and hoard the right side of the party table. I would hoard the left. No special signals were needed; we knew what each of us were going to do. And we went home to enjoy our stuffs.
Keret wrote a chapter dedicated to his brother — his perfect brother who Keret envied. Keret wrote the good things his brother did–how his brother was so smart, how he skipped two classes, and how he would stay back and help Keret with his studies. Etgar wanted to be “perfect” like his brother, which is exactly the point of having an older sibling in everybody’s point of view. Keret talked about his brother’s contribution in his life and how he was really glad that he wanted to be like his brother. He offered some insighst but towards self-criticism and his sharp eye make for a lot of really fun writing
Keret was the the example of “a good family”. He had a cute son and a good wife who really liked to argue just for the sake of it. This reminds me of a song reference which talks about ‘not all families are perfect’. Everybody has a few rough spots with their family members, but most of the time it would end up alright. Paraphrasing Mark Twain that reality is always far messier than fiction, I think people (and Keret, included), at least mostly, aren’t as neat as the characters conjured in the imagination. I really like Etgar Keret’s stories and I’m excited for another chance to read another one of his. Up to now, he’s my still my favorite short story writer 🙂