"The Nimrod Flipout" by Etgar Keret
The Nimrod Flipout
Translated from the Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger and Sondra Silverston
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
176 pages, $12.00
Etgar Keret’s the most widely read young Israeli writer for a reason: he's much funnier than the headlines of Ha'aretz and Ma'ariv, which have newsed much of Israeli literature over the last half-century. Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman, the trinity of Israeli letters, especially abroad, have long held the ivory tower high-ground with their fictions of Israel's fall from European influence, the disastrous invasion of politics into personal life, and investigations into what it means to democratize a nation against the religions (Zionist, Socialist, Jewish) that inspired its founding.
Keret is from the other side of the fence, though still on the good side of the Wall. His generation has flipped, Nimrod-style. Though his subject is also the making of peace, it’s peace between man and woman, which to him is less sex than fucking.
He writes about fucking twins. About fucking a woman who, as the sun goes down, therianthropically turns into a beer-buzzed, fat-pantsed, football-fanning friend. About getting out of the army only to take your time in Tibet picking (and swallowing) mushrooms, then laying this Dutch girl you met in Dharamsala before ingathering, assimilating back into civilian society, going into telecom with your Uncle Whomever thirty floors up in downtown Tel-Aviv. You wouldn’t believe — Keret’s so cool he writes comics, too.
The only way to thoroughly enjoy the thirty stories of Keret's lite but, hey, at least popular “The Nimrod Flipout” is to have them read to you aloud by Henry Kissinger, while you watch the TV on mute, flipping between CNN and something on cable scrambled more soft than core. Even so, amidst the canine fellatio (“It’s sociable, maybe even existential.”), interlarded with the promise of better intercourse abroad (“We’ve never fucked abroad.” “We fucked in Sinai.” “Sinai doesn’t count, it’s Egypt.”), there are strangenessess of another species that indicate we might still be within blast radius of Oz. The most compelling is deep within the title story, which concerns three friends visiting Taba, Egypt, with a Bedouin taxi driver. The drunken plan’s to continue to Eilat, cashing in on nubile Israelis with piercings and easy, if overweight, American tourists. “He’d have loved to come with us himself,” Keret writes of the Bedouin cum chauffeur, “except he wasn’t allowed to cross the border.” Too bad for him. Too bad Keret’s too smart to stop there.