Etgar Keret has a rep as an Israeli Renaissance man—he writes short stories and children’s books, scripts graphic novels, and makes movies—and not everybody in his homeland is happy about that. A writer of such prominence, some have argued, ought to be more engaged with the harsh realities of Israeli life, but Keret largely disengages from religion and terrorism in his brief, quirky, comic tales. Or maybe he just sublimates his country’s anxiety well: There’s a whole lot of neurosis going on in his stories, with more dread and bite than even Kurt Vonnegut (his obvious model) or George Saunders (his closest competition). The horny dude in “Freeze!” (from last year’s The Girl on the Fridge) finds his ability to stop time makes it easier to pick up girls, but he’s haunted by his mother’s tut-tutting about his tactics; the boy in “Breaking the Pig” (from 2004’s The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God) develops an attachment to his piggy bank that’s deeper than his smart-saving father intended; and the three army buddies in one of his best works, the title story of 2006’s The Nimrod Flipout, are haunted by memories of an army buddy’s suicide. The subject of his talk is “Short Story and Film,” so presumably he’ll address three of the movies he’s been involved in: the feature Wristcutters: A Love Story (based on his novella “Kneller’s Happy Campers”), the animated short $9.99, and 2007’s Jellyfish, which he codirected.
KERET DISCUSSES HIS WORK TUESDAY, MARCH 24, AT 7:30 P.M. AT THE WASHINGTON D.C. JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER, 1529 16TH ST. NW. $9. (202) 518-9400.