RMSYL 38: The Amen Stone by Yehuda Amichai (read by Etgar Keret)

Knock, knock! 1 Who’s there? 2 Etgar. 3 Etgar who? 4

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Notes:

  1. I was hoping that when Etgar Keret read me something he loved, we could perhaps “stage” a knock-knock set up in homage to the title of his new short story collection. I had brought with me a door for the purpose as I wasn’t sure if the Random House offices would have them. But when he arrived with his cup of deeply-steeped camomile tea and only half an hour to spare before Bethan Jones had to whisk him off to the Guardian, the door and the Beckettian script I’d carefully prepared for the two of us to read went out the window.
  2. Well, obviously Etgar Keret. I would have been genuinely surprised if another Random House author like Paolo Coelho or Erin Morgenstern had walked into the office instead of Etgar. Random by name, random by etc.?
  3. I was very conscious of not wanting to pronounce his name Edgar, him not being an Edgar, but an Etgar. Pronunciation anxiety was in the air at this recording. He professed to being very worried about having to read aloud in English, and I realised halfway through a sentence that I was just about to use the phrase eminence grise, having only a 50-50 sense of a)whether I was in fact using the term correctly b) whether the term itself existed at all, and c) how to make it sound not too French, but at the same time not too English either. I think you can probably hear this in the way in which the word flops out of my mouth. I didn’t want Etgar, or someone listening to the podcast, to think that I was remarking on his Nonce Grease. There is no Nonce Grease on Etgar Keret. TopQuark on Forvo sounds like he knows how eminence grise should be pronounced. So don’t listen to me, listen to him. Thankfully, I have finally worked out how to pronounce the Foer in Jonthan Safran. I always used to say it like “rower”, but knowing that I might need to use it on this podcast, I did my research (thank you FlannelTrousers, who is also keen to tell us how to locute attentiveness, unbending, glee, lumped, Cannabis, shady grove, and periodontal disease). I can now “four” it with the best of ’em.
  4. Unlike his stories, I never felt for a moment that I didn’t know what Keret was about. I’m talking here in a kind of loose, existential way. I also felt that I would probably trust him with my pension fund and spiritual well-being. I already knew that I would feel like this after having watched a documentary of him on YouTube where in one shot you get Keret pecking away at a keyboard with two loose index fingers. My first thought was: no wonder it’s taken him ten years to write a new collection of stories. Second thought: sorry Netenyahu, but why isn’t this guy Prime Minister? I hope you feel this way too after listening to him reading me something he love.

One Response to RMSYL 38: The Amen Stone by Yehuda Amichai (read by Etgar Keret)

  1. thank you Steve for inviting Etgar, and Etgar for accepting the invitation, a sweet gift to us.
    I have read other poems from this poet but did not know this one. Your conversation really does help the poem to come alive. Etgar, I really appreciated you voicing your thinking about what we choose to focus on and the need/desire for optimism. The default position for many of us seems to be the tendency to the negative which is so easy to do and requires little effort. Choosing an optimistic viewpoint does require an active choice and much more effort. Much appreciated.

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