Short story collections have always had a polarizing effect on readers. There are some who swear by the genre, impressed by an author’s ability to tell a compelling story in a matter of just a few pages, while others avoid the form at all costs. It’s a shame for the latter, as they are missing out on pretty much everything written by Etgar Keret, one of the wittiest, most psychologically twisted writer’s of his generation.
Having already published five other short story collections in the U.S. and appeared as a contributor on NPR’s This American Life, Suddenly, a Knock on the Door is quite possible his best collection of short stories yet and the one most likely to raise the Israeli writer’s profile in this country. Keret is most often compared to Franz Kafka for his ability to take the seemingly normal and effortlessly spin it out of control, (for the best example of this read the story “Lieland” about the place where your convenient white lies are transformed into real people). But he could just as easily be compared to someone like Chuck Palahniuk (though not as dark) for his ability to weave in modern life and pop culture references into his writings.
From the title story – about strangers who keep showing up at the narrator’s house and forcing him to tell stories at gunpoint – to a restaurant owner contemplating suicide experiencing the butterfly effect first hand (“Cheesus Christ”). Not every story is always compelling, but even the weaker ones are at least interesting and if you don’t enjoy it you’ve only wasted a few minutes of your life.
Suddenly, a Knock On the Door: Stories By Etgar Keret/paperback/208 pages/FSG Originals/2012