The Nimrod Flipout: Stories Paperback – Apr 4 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Keret, an Israeli writer who also writes children's books and collaborates with illustrators on graphic stories and novels, specializes in brainteasing short short stories reminiscent of the "Shouts and Murmurs" section of the New Yorker—30 are packed in this thin volume. A typical Keret situation is enacted in "Your Man": the narrator finds that his girlfriends inexplicably break up with him in the back of taxicabs while the radio always announces a caller from a certain address. He goes to the address, finds photos of his exes tacked to the wall and erupts in violence, with repercussions that give new meaning to masochism. Dogs play a role in Keret's stories similar to the sly role they assume in Thurber cartoons, hovering between the fantastic and the everyday, and sex is an obsession ("Actually, I've Had Some Phenomenal Hardons Lately" is one story's title.) In "Fatso," a man's girlfriend confides a secret: she turns into a rotund male at night. Like French surrealist Marcel Aymé, Keret keeps his stories one dimensional, but it's a dimension he has mastered, one that peels away the borderlines of normalcy. (Apr.)
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Once you know that Keret's work has been featured on NPR's This American Life and Selected Shorts, it becomes hard to think of these 30 pieces as short stories. The adenoidal 35--going-on-13 tones of the former program's host grate in the mind like the voices of Woody Allen, Shelley Berman, and other ur-stand-ups, and the veil is parted. These aren't stories, they're routines! They're mostly told in the third person by the same kind of guys (once, gal) as the protagonists: schlemiels, though the singles among them are also slackers.^B They're modern young Israelis fixated on sex, unable to make lasting connections, frustrated to quiet madness, and feckless as . . . a stand-up's persona. Most of their stories are could-be realistic, a few are ultimately sentimental, and the best are arguably the fantasies, such as the volume opener, whose protagonist has a girlfriend ("the sex is dynamite") who becomes a fat, hairy, party-animal guy at night, and is still as much fun to be with. Vulgar, sad-sacky stuff, but amusing. Ray Olson
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The titular story "The Nimrod Flipout", is one of the best in the entire collection. Three young men are possessed, in turn, by the spirit of their friend, Nimrod, who killed himself after his girlfriend broke up with him. [Variety is also not Keret's strong suit. There are at least two other stories where someone kills themselves because they've been dumped.] After the narrator, the last to succumb to the spirit of his deceased friend, the possession repeats itself starting over again with Miron, the first to be possessed. It's a touching story about the frivolity of youth, and deeply tragic, as well; its also one of the funniest stories in the collection.
"Fatso", the opening story, I also loved. It is about a guy whose girlfriend turns into a fat, drunk, soccer-loving man after the sun goes down, and how, after spending many nights going out and watching soccer at the bar with this character, he begins to love his girlfriend, too.
This collection has its shining moments, and is highly recommended to fans of short fiction. However, don't be surprised if some of the stories dissapoint.
Maybe he gets half a star back, and rounded up to the nearest star, because most of these tiny fables are incredibly good. Several are snort-wine-out-your-nose funny, some are perfectly sly, and others are sweet or poignant without sentimentality. A few lumber along unfulfilled, but just a few. (And they're really short.)
He's very a fine writer even in translation, with clear eyes and no fear.
Some of the stories are absolutely fantastic, creative, evocative, and perfectly told. Often, these excellent stories elicited strong reactions from me, or made me smile at their strange, wonderful, and twisted genius. The first story of the book, "Fatso," is such a gem of a story (in structure, in its strangeness, in style, in images, in character, in a surprising dose of magical realism) that, in addition to reading it four or five times, I'm also going to photocopy it, and send it to two friends. I think they'll find it excellent as well.
Other stories are not nearly as good.
But, after reading several of the other Amazon reviews of this book, I wonder: perhaps all of the stories are incredible, and some just appeal to different kinds of people from others. Several reviewers and readers seem to agree that this book has some excellent and some not-so-excellent stories, but do they all agree about which are which? I saw that at least one reviewer really appreciated the book's title story "The Nimrod Flipout." But this was one of the stories with which I was thoroughly UN-impressed. It didn't move or excite me, and the writing didn't seem all that compelling. On the other hand, I absolutely loved "Halibut" - it is one of my favorite stories of all time. Each of the occurrences it describes is brilliantly timed, and the whole thing fits together in a brilliantly peculiar way. But, I wonder, did everyone else think that this story was excellent? I don't know.
So maybe all of the stories are excellent, and some appeal to people like me, and others appeal to different people. It seems possible. I'd be curious to know what other people think.
To enter Keret's cosmology is to journey to a very weird place. However, you return with a different view of your own world.