I could be the only Montreal Jew I know who has avoided ‘going home’ to Israel, despite dangling freebie trips and subsidized holocaust-to-the-holy-land tours. It’s true I was a crack child-fundraiser for the Israeli dream, but I didn’t want to fall for a soldier (let alone be one) and burn my fire in the pit of uber-nationalism*- no matter the crazy-making history that inspired it. Instead, I dedicated myself to the creation of art, diving into the fear and glory of the human heart. I am far from alone.
Meet Etgar Keret; Israel’s rock-star writer and prize-winning filmmaker with the undeniable holocaust pedigree, who smacks our fleshy cards on the table with his wild-haired stories and emo-essays that are perfect for the wee-attention span of the internet age, as they get to the point, to the aching heart of the matter but fast. I am hankering to meet this non-politico provocateur and self-proclaimed lousy soldier who describes his wife as smart, but I will be dancing the hora in the City of Jews (Miami) while Keret is prancing through Montreal as it springs to life on April 21, with the English-language release of his latest collection of earthly delights, Suddenly, a Knock on the Door.
Etgar agreed to meet me on the page:
What are the first words you ever wrote? I love my brother. But that’s because my older brother, who had taught me how to write, made me write them.
What’s your writing routine? There is no routine. I only write when a story comes.
Do you like your own writing? Hey, I’m my stories’ dad. If I won’t like them who will?
What does being Jewish mean to you? I can’t answer this one without using my hands.
What scares you the most? Losing people who are close to me.
Do books have a future? Stories have a future. The form is less important than the essential truth that people will always want to tell and to hear stories.
What’s your next project? I’m just finishing a children’s book called “long haired cat-boy cub”
If you could smoke a doob with another writer, who would it be? Oh, I’ve already smoked with him but I’m too discreet to tell.
If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be? Sad.
What would you title the story of your life? Yearning burning hemorrhoids.
*Not to say that all Israelis are war-mongers. So very many are not.
Canadian Tour Info: April 18 to 21, 2013: Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal
April 18th Toronto- University of Toronto Centre for Jewish Studies: Multiple events: Film Screening, Comic Jam, Public Lecture (FREE, Open to the public)
Centre for Jewish Studies- A Day With Etgar Keret (#keretjam)
April 21st Montreal- Blue Metropolis: On Stage Interview, Author Talk (FREE / $15, Open to the public)
April 21st Montreal- Jewish Public Library: An Evening with Etgar Keret.
Check out ‘Make Art, Not War’ re-posted on Montreal’s Rover!
Here’s some more stuff I’ve blogged about writers who are Jews, too. Ok, Philip Roth. Wait! And Lena Dunham, representing half-Jews everywhere.
FAN THE FLAMES
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