The Girl on the Fridge

The successful short-short story, also called "flash fiction," operates like an elite military commando team: get in, get out, take no prisoners. But how do you reduce a universe of meaning to something smaller than of a breadbox? Etgar Keret makes it look easy. In his previous collection, The Nimrod Flipout, and now with The Girl on the Fridge, the Israeli writer hits us with one flash-bang surprise after another. These little gems range far and wide across the human experience; and, while some are strange and off-kilter, Keret never leaves us with head-scratching bewilderment. The short-shorts take us to places we recognize but then throw us detours in the space of a single word. A soldier tyrannized by his sergeant literally seals himself into a protective cocoon; a bickering couple?s love is renewed with the assistance of Crazy Glue; and a magician?s hat tricks suddenly have gory finales (bunny lovers, avert your eyes). The Girl on the Fridge is 176 pages long and contains 46 stories -- that should give some idea of how effectively Keret distills language. The opening story, "Asthma Attack," clocks in at only 115 words but speaks volumes -- not just about the subject of romance but about Keret?s way with words. It concludes with these lines: "When an asthmatic says 'I love you,' and when an asthmatic says 'I love you madly,' there's a difference. The difference of a word. A word's a lot. It could be stop, or inhaler. It could even be ambulance. " Keret chooses his words carefully and always leaves us gasping for breath.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."