‘Healthy Start’ by Etgar Keret, translated by Miriam Schlesinger

Humour combined with deep seriousness is not easy to write, but one writer that does it well is Etgar Keret. While I usually prefer listening to Keret read his own stories in his distinctive Israeli accent, I first heard this story read by the actor John Conlee who reads it well. ‘Healthy Start’ is a story about the pleasure of pretending to be someone else, which is a story that particularly appeals to me as a writer. What if you went to a cafe every morning and pretended to be that person that another has come to meet— anything from a business acquaintance to a lover. This is the premise of a wonderfully imaginative and at times very funny story. The fact that the author was once mistaken to be somebody else in a cafe and considered playing along, is an interesting meta story to this story.

First published in English in Tin House, Vol 8, No. 2, 2008. Available to read online at Litro magazine. Collected in Pitʹom Dfika Ba-Delet, Zmora-Bitan, 2010, and in translation in Suddenly, a Knock at the Door, FSG, 2012. Hear it read online here.

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