I am not much of a short story reader. Not really sure why. I think I have always been a plot and character kinda guy and so have focused on the novel form (although, I do enjoy novellas). For whatever reason, the short story form hasn’t been a big part of my reading experience.
Given this, I am not sure how I became aware of The Nimrod Flip-Out, but it somehow came to my attention and I was intrigued – perhaps by the interesting cover. So when I stumbled upon it at Half-Price Books I picked it up. Interestingly enough, I read the book in the unique location that has been discussed recently by Mark Sarvas.
I am hard pressed to describe this collection from one of Israel’s most famous writers (in a country with of only five million Hebrew readers, Keretâ€™s four collections of stories have sold more than 200,000 copies), but this description from an Observer interview does it pretty well:
. . . The Nimrod Flip-Out, a collection of 32 short, short stories that perfectly captures the craziness of life in Israel today. Rarely extending beyond three or four pages, they fuse the banal with the surreal, shot through with a dark, tragicomic sensibility and casual, comic-strip violence.
One interesting point, at least to me, is that the first story may adversely impact one’s enjoyment of the collection. The story, entitled Fatso, describes a man whose girlfriend every night turns into a “heavy, hairy man, with no neck, with a gold ring on his pinkie.” The story describes how the girlfriend shows up in tears wanting to confess a dark secret and the boyfriend promising to love her no matter what – convinced it is likely no big deal. His plan to be the supportive and loving boyfriend works out at first. They both cry and have passionate sex, but afterwords he is a little worried to find out that her secret comes true. One minute he is with his beautiful girlfriend, the next he is with an overweight, and rather vulgar soccer fan. But out of guilt or curiosity, or both, he ends up hanging out with the guy and enjoying himself. They eat steaks, drink beer, and watch soccer. It seem like the perfect relationship: half the day he has a beautiful and loving girlfriend the other half he has a rough and tumble male friend.
This story is a hilarious description of the male point of view and it starts the book off with a bang. The rest of the stories, however, are not quite funny in the same rather straight forward way. If you are expecting more of the same, you might be disappointed. The rest of the stories lean a little bit more in the direction of the absurd and existential.
I wasn’t disappointed exactly but it took me a while to realize that all of the stories weren’t going to be so conventionally humorous. I was also confused when none of the stories seemed to relate to the unique cover art.
I am not going to even try to unpack the other stories. Suffice it to say if you enjoy brief, compact, and quirky stories that explore the often absurd nature of everyday life, you will enjoy The Nimrod Flipout. I certainly enjoyed having something short and entertaining to read in “my office.”