Review: Fly Already by Etgar Keret

My first fully completed Etgar Keret collection read in Hebrew, courtesy of the lovely librarian at my local library! (Previously read in English: The Seven Good Years, Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, & The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God.) Fly Already contains twenty-two character-driven short stories, circling different introspections on our thoughts through daily-life observations and reflection.

I took quite the journey for this latest Etgar Keret book to land in my hands, but here I am after having had quite a blast reading through the pages. The writer’s clever awareness of his surroundings hooked me in from the start. It’s present, in particular, with stories such as, “GooDeed” (which challenges economic privileges), “Pineapple Crush” (which shows the subtle importance of human connection and an ode to beautiful sunsets), “Pitriyah” (which breaks the fourth wall by voicing exactly my thoughts upon reading certain reveals) & “Don’t Do It!” (which brings a man’s journey full circle).

Everything was flowing all nice and dainty, until I came across the story “Tabula Rasa,” that pretty much made all the author’s hard work go down the drain, for me…

The book stooped so low so to manipulate the reader into emotionally identifying with a character presented as “A” and his situation of being locked up in an institution, when all he wants is to escape with his friend, Nadia. It all comes down to this: only to settle for the hurried reveal that “A” was bred and cloned to give a Holocaust survivor a sliver of peace by avenging his family murdered by Hitler’s Nazis. “A” then, of course, stands for Adolf Hitler, who in the meantime has been given a uniform and facial trim to match… Truly, what a cheap, distasteful joke to make of a ruthless dictator responsible for the deaths of millions. The writer makes a complete joke out of the survivor (what even was the look of making him practically beg “A” to be fearful of meeting his end) by sending the message that trying to chase after Hitler to avenge your family perished in the Holocaust is not worth it; move on, already. The audacity it takes to reverberate this mockery to thousands of readers worldwide makes me want to shout, which is why I’m writing this review.

“The world needed to be reminded that monsters were still at large.”  x

I still can’t wrap my head around this ridicule. How can someone write such an intensely sensitive piece of writing just a few pages ago, only to now write about Hitler through manipulatively hidden clues to make us actually feel sorry for him in the end? This warped mindset, especially from a Jew whose parents are survivors, gave me heebie-jeebies.

It’s textbook Stockholm syndrome that makes victims want to grow close into the confines of the enemy as a defense mechanism, so that in another lifetime they won’t be abolished: Keret’s ending came across as “if I show Hitler (imah shmo) in an emphatic light then surely he wouldn’t have hunted down and annihilated my nation.” It’s the same syndrome that led another Israeli-Jew to recklessly exhibit Hitler’s paintings at Haifa’s gallery ‘Pyramida’, which is funded by the Ministry of Education, aka making tax-paying Israeli-Jews (which, incidentally, homes more or less 200,000 Holocaust survivors) pay for showing the devil’s work.

The way these syndrome victims move on is to befriend the enemy and forgo all moral values in the process, and it’s a powerful statement to the horrors of Stockholm syndrome. If you find something (a painting, a book, a statue) more important than human morality, it’s a sign that you’re taking a part in this virus; when brilliancy trumps harmfulness to society, you’re in danger.

Another point that hit me repeatedly throughout the collection was the author’s quite obvious need to appeal to the masses and acquire more international readers by presenting numerous stories set in the West to make it easier for his translators to adapt. I’m pretty sure that the only readers that care to repeatedly venture into his work are either Jews, Israelis, or both… so I personally would’ve appreciated stories that remained close to his roots since those are where he shines best.

bookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoils star (What even were the redeeming qualities? Scrolls back to first paragraph

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