The Seven Good Years by Etgar Keret

The Seven Good Years
Etgar Keret

ISBN: 978-1-59463-326-3

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“. . . minimalistic-style narrative leads the reader into winsome paths. . .”

In a series of short stories Etgar Keret shares with the reader incidents occurring during the seven years between the birth of his son, Lev, and the death of his father from cancer. He again proves he is the quintessential storyteller. The tale moves  with the vibrancy of a stand-up comic and the poignancy of a philosopher with perfectly measured humor. He brings the reader to revelations they never expected through amusing descriptions of life experiences. In one he continually attempts–unsuccessfully– to emulate his older brother, and comes to realize that he is not his brother, and never will be, finding comfort in abandoning that competition. 

Although his stories originate from his ethnic origins, the vignettes help people of all backgrounds to understand and accept the absurdities of life. His extreme rationalizations, reactions and justifications culminate in an eerily poetic way. In one story of dark reality he humorously postpones both the daily joys and drudgery fearing death in a sudden outbreak of war. 

The minimalistic-style narrative leads the reader into winsome paths, viewing small moments that movingly illuminate mundane and ordinary things, such as being the single dad among the many moms during the playground activities with his son. Each of his stories is quick-paced with a vocabulary that heightens the theme and characterizations of human strengths and foibles. These characterizations are drawn directly from his own relatives and friends as well as his experiences as a traveling lecturer and supportive family member.

He is an oxymoron—a pessimistic optimist—always seeming surprised as his own unrecognized truths are revealed through mundane interactions. He unpretentiously and brazenly rationalizes–because reality is confusing enough. The title of the book, The Seven Good Years, reflects the simple theme of finding the goodness of truth and reminds the reader to wonder and love and laugh and learn.

Reviewer: C. L. Collins