I was thinking about how to begin my blogging career, when Thursday night an ideal subject presented itself. I got to hear Israeli author Etgar Keret (www.ithl.org.il/author_info.asp?id=141) read from his stories and discuss his ideas about writing. Keret is well-known in Israel for his stories and graphic novels, and he's also gained some fame as a filmmaker. He co-directed the film (that's film, not movie, for those of you out there who are concerned) Jellyfish (Meduzot). www.imdb.com/title/tt0807721/. We saw this a few months ago, and I recommend it enthusiastically. It is a set of linked stories about characters in contemporary Tel Aviv. It is very creatively done and keeps you guessing.
Keret turns out to be an engaging speaker. He mentioned that he has two siblings, a sister who is charedit and lives in Mea Shearim, and a brother he described as a left-wing activist. When asked, he suggested that this disparity may come from the fact that his mother is a Holocaust orphan, and herself said that she didn't have any model for how to raise children; thus, she did what seemed right to her, evidently giving her children a good deal of latitude as to the choices they make in life.
He was also asked about the relationship between his work and the 'conflict' between Israel and the Palestinians. (Presumably, every Israeli author gets asked this question). He emphasized that Israelis are of course attuned to the conflict and the politics surrounding it, but like everyone else they have lives to lead. He said that, when the average Israeli gets up, he/she thinks about work, family, the mundane aspects of life. Only once they take a shower and have their coffee do they begin to think about what's going on in the country. My stories, he said, focus on that space in-between waking up and having the coffee.
Some of Keret's books are published by The Toby Press, which is a wonderful resource for anyone who likes Jewish literature. They publish many Israeli and other Jewish authors.
I bought a book and had him sign it. He drew a sketch of a flying saucer and then signed his name.