Monday, January 31, 2011

Finished: "Four Stories" by Etgar Keret

Finished: Four Stories by Etgar Keret, 2010, 9780815681564.

This was a disappointment. I ordered this because it is a 2010 title and then find out it only has 33 pages including the bib., bio., and a talk by Keret. I like the stories fine, I really enjoy Keret's work, but I was hoping for more of it.

This was from a visit Keret made to Syracuse U. to deliver a lecture and read some stories aloud. Keret was invited - presumably - by the Judaic Studies people since they published the book. His lecture is transcribed and has some interesting comments. He was asked to speak as a writer in relation to being a second generation kid of the Holocaust. Both his parents were in Poland and Germany through the war. Dirty, filthy, stinking, rotten nazis. It annoys me greatly that the spellchecker wants to capitalize nazi. Screw that.

Keret's story selection highlights some things he felt when growing up. One story has a young boy who has always learned to boycott Germany. He parents return from Europe with some fancy German sneakers. The boy has always learned that German products " were made out of the bones and skin and flesh of dead Jews." He takes this literally and thinks his shoes are made of his grandfather.

I'll have to hunt better for Keret's work and just ILL some stuff. According to his lecture he is popular in Poland and Germany. The bib lists several British publications but he also works with Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

UC - Santa Cruz Reader:

1. I don't have much to say about this book or the other Keret book I read. I rarely delve into literary themes and theory. One reason I like Keret's work is his unique (to me) fantasy elements. I like the commonplace treatment Keret gives to bizarre incidents. I still need to ILL some of his other English language stuff.
2. I give much praise to his translators.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Read: "Damn Near Dead 2" edited by Bill Crider

Read: Damn Near Dead 2 edited by Bill Crider, 2010, 9781935415404.

Foreword by Charlaine Harris. I skipped the foreword. To hell with book forewords. I cannot recall a book foreword that was worth reading aside from the ones that are more than three sentences long. Those short ones are not foreword's anyway. Those are marketing tools using a famous person's name on the cover.

Part two of the "geezer noir" subgenre. When asked to define geezer noir do authors cringe like when asked to define noir. Should noir really be italicized? It's a French word but has an American English usage. Why should French be capitalized? Should french fries be capitalized?

I found an improvement over volume one right off the bat: the table of contents has page numbers. The cover is better.

All the stories are good but I liked these best:
1. Anthony Neil Smith's Alzheimer's addled pimp in Granny Pussy. The pimp had been retired for years but brought the old hookers out of retirement for fun and the women are working the fetish business. The pimp is losing his mind though and cannot keep up with current events and confuses memory for current time.
2. Kat Richardson had a character named Gerard. Wait, that is a mark against the story.
3. James Reasoner's Depression-era night watchman who shoots a local bad guy during a burglary and has the dead man's brother come after him.
4. Piccirilli's retired English teacher turned screenwriter working a c-grade movie filmed in his own small apartment in Los Angeles.
5. Pronzini's retired hitman living in the mountains had a nice twist.
6. Scott Phillips's character is a revised version of the guy from Cottonwood but living in Idaho and without his wife. I liked it's sad, depressing, and realistic ending. Phillip's story has that pragmatic view of life and it's dangers on the frontier. Set in Idaho in the second-half time period of Cottonwood.
7. If I liked Pronzini's story do I have to like Marcia Muller's?
8. Joe R. Lansdale's crotchety Nero Wolfe styled old-guy. Stuck in a wheelchair and more concerned with watching television than helping the local sheriff.
9. C.J. Box's elderly mountain men in 1835 Wyoming who are snowed in the for the winter.
10. Ace Atkins terminally ill former policeman killing a murderous pimp/white slaver.
11. Will C.J. Box take his hat off?

EDIT: I forgot a comment. Several stories take place in nursing homes or assisted living. Many also involve crooks or cops turned grey. I was reading something (either in here or when looking through volume one again) where an author writes about the decision on whether to have the elderly character be a former tough guy. Maybe it was Gischler who made that comment in volume one. I'm too lazy to look.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Read: "Exit Wounds" by Rutu Modan

Read: Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan, 2007, 9781897299067.

A good comic book novel. I think I read a reference to this somewhere. The book cover has an endorsement by Etgar Keret.

Koby is about 30 years old and shares a cab driving business in Tel Aviv with his aunt. One day he gets a ride request from Numi, a soldier. She tells him his father may have died a few weeks ago in a suicide bombing at a bus station and could be the still unclaimed body in the morgue. Koby could care less.

Koby and his father have been estranged for several years and were not getting along well for years before. Koby's father was a louse but no specifically dastardly or despicable acts are detailed. Koby starts to wonder if his father is dead after all and finds out that the young Numi was dating his almost 70 year old father.

Koby and Numi investigate. Koby is suspicious that his father just skipped out on Numi. Koby starts to get attracted to Numi who is awkward and nicknamed Giraffe for her height. Koby and Numi find out the dad had another, older lady as a girlfriend. At one point Koby and Numi start to make out and have sex. Numi says,"Like father like son," as a joke. But, Koby is very upset - as was I, that was gross.

Months later Koby gets a check for the sale of his father's apartment (Koby had been a part owner) showing that the father is alive. Koby tracks down his father and find he is re-married and meets the dad's wife. Koby's dad never shows up at home while Koby is there and Koby heads back to Tel Aviv. Koby goes to see Numi who is mad at him after a fight about the time of the sex disaster. Koby has been emotionally locked up and angry to years and takes a symbolic jump down from a tree to Numi.

1. You never see the father. The only picture of him is about 25 years old, taken at a wedding, with his face quartering away from the camera and partially obscured.
2. There seems to have never been a single big breaking point between father and son. Just a widening gap and anger that finally broke.
3. When Kuby and Numi are traveling and trying to find if his father was the unclaimed body Kuby is adamant in saying, "No!" when people ask if Numi is his girlfriend. He is a bit creeped out by her dating his father.
4. The illustrations are very good. Modan does a very good job in showing body language, attitude and feelings in his work. Modan did not draw in a lot of detail for the characters faces but I saw a lot in what he gives. Numi's posture sitting in the cab while Kuby drives perfectly matches what she is saying and feeling.