Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Watchlist Countdown, Day 30: “Second Chance” by Etgar Keret

      On the face of it, it seemed like just another service--innovative, revolutionary, monstrous, call it whatever you want but when you came right down to it, Second Chance was the greatest economic success story of the twenty-first century. Unlike most great ideas, which tend to be quite simple, the idea behind Second Chance was a bit more complicated: Second Chance gave you the opportunity to go to one particular critical moment in your life, and instead of having to choose either one road or the other, you could continue along both.

          from “Second Chance” by Etgar Keret, translated by Miriam Shlesinger

Etgar Keret’s contribution to the Watchlist anthology makes a perfect companion piece to T. C. Boyle’s story, “The Relive Box.” Both deal with regret and missed opportunities, and both are terrific pieces of fiction, sharp as icepicks which skewer our pretensions through and through. I'm a long-time fan of Keret’s flash fiction and “Second Chance” is right up there with the creme de la creme of his canon. It moves swift as a lightning round on a game show and makes its point sure as a preacher jabbing his finger at his congregation. He had me pinned to the page...all the way to the Keretian punchline at the end.

Watchlist: 32 Short Stories by Persons of Interest, edited by Bryan Hurt, will be published by O/R Books on May 21.  The “persons of interest” contributing short stories to the anthology include Etgar Keret, Robert Coover, Aimee Bender, Jim Shepard, Alissa Nutting, Charles Yu, Cory Doctorow, David Abrams, Randa Jarrar, Katherine Karlin, Miracle Jones, Mark Irwin, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Dale Peck, Bonnie Nadzam, Lucy Corin, Chika Unigwe, Paul Di Filippo, Lincoln Michel, Dana Johnson, Mark Chiusano, Juan Pablo Villalobos, Chanelle Benz, Sean Bernard, Kelly Luce, Zhang Ran, Miles Klee, Carmen Maria Machado, Steven Hayward, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Alexis Landau and Bryan Hurt.

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