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The Seven Good Years
Cover of The Seven Good Years
The Seven Good Years
A Memoir
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A brilliant, life-affirming, and hilarious memoir from a “genius” (The New York Times) and master storyteller. With illustrations by Jason Polan.
The seven years between the birth of Etgar Keret’s son and the death of his father were good years, though still full of reasons to worry. Lev is born in the midst of a terrorist attack. Etgar’s father gets cancer. The threat of constant war looms over their home and permeates daily life.
What emerges from this dark reality is a series of sublimely absurd ruminations on everything from Etgar’s three-year-old son’s impending military service to the terrorist mind-set behind Angry Birds. There’s Lev’s insistence that he is a cat, releasing him from any human responsibilities or rules. Etgar’s siblings, all very different people who have chosen radically divergent paths in life, come together after his father’s shivah to experience the grief and love that tie a family together forever. This wise, witty memoir—Etgar’s first nonfiction book published in America, and told in his inimitable style—is full of wonder and life and love, poignant insights, and irrepressible humor.
A brilliant, life-affirming, and hilarious memoir from a “genius” (The New York Times) and master storyteller. With illustrations by Jason Polan.
The seven years between the birth of Etgar Keret’s son and the death of his father were good years, though still full of reasons to worry. Lev is born in the midst of a terrorist attack. Etgar’s father gets cancer. The threat of constant war looms over their home and permeates daily life.
What emerges from this dark reality is a series of sublimely absurd ruminations on everything from Etgar’s three-year-old son’s impending military service to the terrorist mind-set behind Angry Birds. There’s Lev’s insistence that he is a cat, releasing him from any human responsibilities or rules. Etgar’s siblings, all very different people who have chosen radically divergent paths in life, come together after his father’s shivah to experience the grief and love that tie a family together forever. This wise, witty memoir—Etgar’s first nonfiction book published in America, and told in his inimitable style—is full of wonder and life and love, poignant insights, and irrepressible humor.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover

    Year One

    Suddenly, the Same Thing

    I just hate terrorist attacks,” the thin nurse says to the older one. “Want some gum?”

    The older nurse takes a piece and nods. “What can you do?” she says. “I also hate emergencies.”

    “It’s not the emergencies,” the thin one insists. “I have no problem with accidents and things. It’s the terrorist attacks, I’m telling you. They put a damper on everything.”

    Sitting on the bench outside the maternity ward, I think to myself, She’s got a point. I got here just an hour ago, all excited, with my wife and a neat-freak taxi driver who, when my wife’s water broke, was afraid it would ruin his upholstery. And now I’m sitting in the hallway, feeling glum, waiting for the staff to come back from the ER. Everyone but the two nurses has gone to help treat the people injured in the attack. My wife’s contractions have slowed down, too. Probably even the baby feels this whole getting-born thing isn’t that urgent anymore. As I’m on my way to the cafeteria, a few of the injured roll past on squeaking gurneys. In the taxi on the way to the hospital, my wife was screaming like a madwoman, but all these people are quiet.

    “Are you Etgar Keret?” a guy wearing a checked shirt asks me. “The writer?” I nod reluctantly. “Well, what do you know?” he says, pulling a tiny tape recorder out of his bag. “Where were you when it happened?” he asks. When I hesitate for a second, he says in a show of empathy: “Take your time. Don’t feel pressured. You’ve been through a trauma.”

    “I wasn’t in the attack,” I explain. “I just happen to be here today. My wife’s giving birth.”

    “Oh,” he says, not trying to hide his disappointment, and presses the stop button on his tape recorder. “Mazal tov.” Now he sits down next to me and lights himself a cigarette.

    “Maybe you should try talking to someone else,” I suggest as an attempt to get the Lucky Strike smoke out of my face. “A minute ago, I saw them take two people into neurology.”

    “Russians,” he says with a sigh, “don’t know a word of Hebrew. Besides, they don’t let you into neurology anyway. This is my seventh attack in this hospital, and I know all their shtick by now.” We sit there a minute without talking. He’s about ten years younger than I am but starting to go bald. When he catches me looking at him, he smiles and says, “Too bad you weren’t there. A reaction from a writer would’ve been good for my article. Someone original, someone with a little vision. After every attack, I always get the same reactions: ‘Suddenly I heard a boom,’ ‘I don’t know what happened,’ ‘Everything was covered in blood.’ How much of that can you take?”

    “It’s not their fault,” I say. “It’s just that the attacks are always the same. What kind of original thing can you say about an explosion and senseless death?”

    “Beats me,” he says with a shrug. “You’re the writer.”

    Some people in white jackets are starting to come back from the ER on their way to the maternity ward. “You’re from Tel Aviv,” the reporter says to me, “so why’d you come all the way to this dump to give birth?”

    “We wanted a natural birth. Their department here—”

    “Natural?” he...

About the Author-
  • Etgar Keret was born in Ramat Gan and now lives in Tel Aviv. A winner of the French Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, he is a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the author, most recently, of the memoir The Seven Good Years and story collections like The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Paris Review, and The New York Times, among many other publications, and on This American Life, where he is a regular contributor.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Israeli writer Etgar Keret is best known for his satirical essays. He brings that same wryness to this series of autobiographical sketches, which span the period from the birth of his son to the death of his father. Alex Karpovsky's engaging narration captures all the bewilderment the author expresses about modern life and the universal truth of many of his observations. Karpovsky changes his tone, volume, and pacing to fit the material so effectively that you'd swear he's performing a stand-up comedy routine rather than reading a book. He gives selected other speakers individual voices, which add to the richness of the narration. R.C.G. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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A Memoir
Etgar Keret
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