A short story by Etgar Keretby Etgar Keret / January 25, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in February 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Photo credit: Matthew Richardson, matthewxrichardson.com
Author and filmmaker Etgar Keret was born in Tel Aviv in 1967. Salman Rushdie has called him “the voice of the next generation” and his work has been translated into 29 languages. The following story is from his sixth collection, Suddenly a Knock on the Door, published on 23rd February by Chatto & Windus.
The idea for this story, translated by Nathan Englander, came to Keret after he read his five-year-old son Alexander Pushkin’s “The Fisherman and the Goldfish.” Keret says, “My son asked me what I would do if I had three wishes. He quickly rejected my ‘safe’ wishes for family health or world peace and insisted that I ask for something I really, really wanted. And that’s when my goldfish story began.”
Yonatan had a brilliant idea for a documentary. He’d knock on doors. Just him. No camera crew, no nonsense. Just Yonatan, on his own, a small camera in hand, asking, “If you found a talking goldfish that granted you three wishes, what would you wish for?”
People would give their answers, and Yoni would edit them down and make clips of the more surprising responses. Before every set of answers, you’d see the person standing stock-still in the entrance to his house. Onto this shot he’d superimpose the subject’s name, family situation, monthly income, and maybe even the party he’d voted for in the last election. All that, combined with the three wishes, and maybe he’d end up with a poignant piece of social commentary, a testament to the massive rift between our dreams and the often compromised reality in which we live.
It was genius, Yoni was sure. And, if not, at least it was cheap. All he needed was a door to knock on and a heart beating on the other side. With some decent footage, he was sure he’d be able to sell it to Channel 8 or Discovery in a flash, either as a film or as a collection of vignettes, little cinematic corners, each with that singular soul standing in a doorway, followed by three killer wishes, precious, every one.