Etgar Keret is the author of some very strange and lovely short stories. Often his stories don’t conform strictly to the ‘real’, but dabble in alternative states of being and consciousnesses. Although his work is typically classified as flash fiction, it struck me as reminiscent of the new weird (and I thought we may be able to consider it, for our purposes, within the larger context of ‘soft’ science fiction). With this in mind, I would like to share and then discuss Keret’s short story, “Fatso”. It is very very short, I promise.
In the short story you just read/heard, a man describes how he has come to accept, and even love, the “heavy, hairy man, with no neck [and] a gold ring on his pinkie” (Keret 4) that his girlfriend turns into at night. The mechanics of the transformation are not explored (which prevents the story from entering the domain of ‘hard’ science fiction). However, the psychology of the transformation – the ‘soft’ science fiction – is central to the story.
In the story, we see that “the fatso” (Keret 5), although hidden from public gaze/the light of day, is a vital component of the woman’s self; the girlfriend possesses an inherent maleness – a crudeness, but also a vitality – that challenges preconceptions of demure feminine identity, complicating a one dimensional/stereotypical understanding of the “beautiful, forgiving woman” (Keret 6).
For this reason, the narrator’s acceptance of the “fatso” can be seen as an acceptance, or making whole, of the woman. Furthermore, it is important that the narrator, “who hardly knows what he wants most of the time” (Keret 6), is able to find some meaning – some sense of investment and satisfaction – through caring for the “fatso” and about the soccer they share. This outcome not only emphasizes the fact that commonality can be found between all people, but also seems to suggest that an openness to that which is alien or ‘other’ can deepen relationships and enrich/invigorate one’s self.
I hope you enjoyed the story!
Keret, Etgar. “Fatso”. The Nimrod Flipout. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002. 3-6. Print.