“One Gram Short ” Is 14-Keret Gold

You humans do love to create new words. Neologisms have been favored by role models from Pauly “The Ocean” Shore to Justin “Swag” Bieber to Jake from Adventure Time. Allow me to take a page from their books. See if you can catch my new word below!

I was squatching up on my New Yorker archives this week when I came across a wonderful (and new yorker 2014-12-01wonderfully short) fiction piece by Etger Keret, translated from Hebrew into English by Nathan Englander, author of the story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. Keret’s story “One Gram Short,” in the December 1st issue of the magazine, demonstrates his mastery over the art of the surprising ending. For one cannot simply surprise, and that is all – “look, the ham sandwich is actually baloney! the horror!” No, many times no. In fact, a skillful climax will surprise because it must, because there is no other way to communicate its particular message.

Such is the case with “One Gram Short,” in which a typically irreverent Israeli narrator agrees to attend the trial of a hit-and-run driver in order to hurl epithets at the defendant. The narrator’s attendance is required in order to win marijuana from his dealer, an attorney who believes his client is in need of more public support. All this in the hopes of impressing the narrator’s crush, a young waitress named Shikma. The story approaches its final scene when the narrator returns to the cafe, marijuana in hand, and decides to approach Shikma more directly than he had originally planned.

I won’t give the ending away, precious reader, but suffice to say, it isn’t what you might expect. Although it isn’t necessarily a happy ending, it is certainly hopeful. Squatch it yourself, and find out.

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