cover image The Seven Good Years: A Memoir

The Seven Good Years: A Memoir

Etgar Keret. Riverhead, $26.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-59463-326-3

In this slim, episodic set of recollections, acclaimed Israeli fiction writer Keret (The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God) covers the span between the birth of his son and the death of his father. In spare, wry prose, he recounts his child’s birth, the same day as a terrorist attack, and sums up the violent underpinnings of current Israeli life when he tells a disappointed journalist that “the attacks are always the same. What can you say about an explosion and senseless death?” This apolitical, irreligious, and wry fatalism recalls a great deal of Jewish humor, a meditation on the absurd and vital. The initial courtship of Keret’s parents, both Holocaust survivors, is lovingly described with a thirst for life that reflects the vitality of Israel’s earliest decades. Keret thinks and feels deeply, but he makes heavy points with a light touch, describing a childhood friend as having “the smiling but tough expression of an aging child who had already learned a thing or two about this stupid world.” While the short chapters move in linear fashion, each stands firmly on its own.. Without overplaying any single aspect of a complicated life in complicated times in a complicated place, Keret’s lovely memoir retains its essential human warmth, demonstrating that with memoirs, less can often be more. (June)