Hack Job

September 12, 2008 | , , ,

Filmmakers had been adapting Philip Roth’s work long before Isabel Coixet transformed The Dying Animal into Elegy. When Roth was just twenty-two, his story “The Contest for Aaron Gold,” published first in the Fall 1955 issue of Epoch and then in that year’s Best American Short Stories, was presented on television by Alfred Hitchcock. Roth has disallowed the story’s republication in the half-century since, and the filmed version can be viewed only at UCLA’s archives (or, for the less scrupulous, in a bootleg version), so very few of even Roth’s most committed fans have read or seen it. Roth’s only other short story to be filmed, “Expect the Vandals,” is equally obscure; but at least its bizarre movie version can be added to your Netflix queue. (more…)

Etgar Keret’s Bargain

May 22, 2008 | , , ,

The Girl on the Fridge
By Etgar Keret
Translated by Miriam Shlesinger and Sondra Silverston
173 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Think of it this way: if you pay the cover price for Etgar Keret’s newly translated collection of stories, The Girl on the Fridge, you’ll be shelling out approximately 25 cents for each of the 46 fictions included. Some of them aren’t much longer than a paragraph, true, and some you’ll forget by the time you turn a page, but what do you expect for a lousy quarter, especially in this rotten economy? If even a handful of the stories haunt you, shake you, throw you for a loop—and they will—you’ll feel like you’ve won the literary lottery. (more…)

The Honest Art of Leonard Michaels

August 7, 2007 | , ,

The Collected Stories
By Leonard Michaels

Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 403 pages. $26.

Unlike other masters of the short story—say, Bernard Malamud, in whose Complete Stories we witness the author’s approach shifting regularly and unpredictably, or Grace Paley, whose Collected Stories manifests relatively stable interests and methods—Leonard Michaels transformed his style dramatically, if gradually, during his career. Reading him chronologically in the new Collected Stories, beginning with the work he composed in the early ‘60s and continuing through the final publications before his death in 2003, the evolution of Michaels’ oeuvre stares you smack in the face. (more…)