“A man is sitting in a room, all by himself. He’s lonely. He’s a writer. He wants to write a story. It’s been a long time since he wrote his last story, and he misses it. He misses the feeling of creating something out of something. That’s right—something out something. Because something out of nothing is when you make something up out of thin air, in which case it has no value. Anybody can do that. But when it’s something out of something, that means it was really there the whole time, inside you, and you discover it as part of something new, that’s never happened before.”
—from “Suddenly, a Knock on the Door” by Etgar Keret
Faber & Faber publisher and editor Mitzi Angel writes: “Etgar Keret’s short tales have always resisted classification. Are they fables? Are they forays into the Israeli unconscious? How can they be so funny and so devastatingly sad at the same time? Can you even call Suddenly, A Knock on the Door (Spring 2012) a ‘story collection’? We thought it would be fun to see what his vivid, shape-shifting narratives might inspire in other people, especially given that Etgar has always been interested in blurring the boundaries between different artistic media.”
You may have seen Jakub Szczęsny’s Keret House, which made headlines well ahead of its 2012 unveiling as the slimmest house in the world. Appropriate for Etgar Keret: most of his short stories could fit on a cocktail napkin. If these stories moved a Polish architect to create a four-foot-wide house, what else might they inspire?
The gauntlet has been thrown. FSG Originals and BOMB Magazine present the Etgar Keret Something Out of Something Design Contest. Twenty-five finalists will be selected in March by judges from Farrar, Straus and Giroux; BOMB Magazine staff; and Keret himself. Finalists’ work will then be sold in a silent auction on April 29, 2012, with proceeds to benefit the PEN American Center. The winner will receive $500 and a signed and personalized copy of Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, and the winning piece will be featured in a Keret story or film.
And where does Keret find inspiration? He describes a scene from Hal Hartley’s film Trust, in which a woman proposes to her partner that they try a trust fall: “For me this exercise is the most accurate metaphor I’ve found for writing. When I start writing I do not know what I am doing. I have a sentence, an image, a shred of a situation in mind. Sitting next to my computer, I do exactly what the characters in the Hartley movie did: I fall back, trusting that the story will catch me. Sometimes it does, and sometimes, after a few paragraphs, I just crash flat on the cement floor.”