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The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God and Other Stories

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  6,477 ratings  ·  638 reviews
Israel's hippest bestselling young writer today, Etgar Keret is part court jester, part literary crown prince, part national conscience. The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God gathers his daring and provocative short stories for the first time in English.

Brief, intense, painfully funny, and shockingly honest, Keret's stories are snapshots that illuminate with intelligence an
Paperback, USA / UK / EUR / CAN, 130 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Toby Press (first published 2001)
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Kevin Kelsey
May 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
It's definitely different, and some of the stories are great, but there are a lot of mediocre ones too. Kneller's Happy Campers – like the film adaptation, Wristcutters – is really wonderful. ...more
A collection of Jewish, Israeli and surreal short stories sounded just like my kind of thing. Etgar Keret's The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God & Other Stories stings and thrills with fierce fables of modern life. And I had no idea going into this, but it turned out that I was already familiar with the author's writing from school back when we'd read "Breaking the Pig." So when I stumbled upon said short story in here, I was beyond joyful to have everything come back.

The author, without a doubt,
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
I don't think that this book should be read in one or two sittings. Reading these very short stories one right after another starts to take something away from the stories. Since most of the stories are only a couple of pages long, there is only so many times in a short period of time when I could enjoy ironic twists. I wanted to throw myself on the ground and beg for no more irony. ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fabulous collection of warped and wonderful short stories from Israel.

As I mentioned on my review of Suddenly a Knock on the Door Etgar Keret writes stories unlike anybody else, stories that are often strange and slightly fantastical, funny, dark, impressive and affecting and this collection is no different in that respect.

That collection is one of the best books I've read in 2012 and so when Leah brought home a tattered and spine broken copy of this one, found thrown away by a careless
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Imaginative tales with plenty of metaphors.. I don't think I was able to make 100% of it but would like to read from Edgar Keret again. It reminded me of Ali Smith's short stories somehow. ...more
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
The only reason I picked up this book was to read "Kneller's Happy Campers", because I LOVE Wristcutters so much. "KHC" is an amusing and quite interesting story, (although the story of the film version is much better because it has a funnier, more intelligent plot and because it cuts out all the racist crap). I give "KHC" a 3/5 stars, but the rest of the book overall deserves 2/5.

All the other stories in the book are mostly bad attempts at absurdist writing. Most of them are way too abrupt, (I
How can you not want to read a book with that title? Unfortunately, “The Story about a Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God” is the first story and probably the best, so it’s all a slight downhill journey from there. That story stars a bus driver who’s weighing justice versus mercy in his response to one lovelorn passenger, and retribution is a recurring element in the remainder of the book. Most stories are just three to five pages long. Important characters include an angel who can’t fly, visitors ...more
Brendan Monroe
Short story collections are tricky. Rarely is there a collection where all the stories included are good. At least, not outside of Hemingway, Raymond Carver, and the best of Alice Munro. And I'm sorry to say that most of the stories in "The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God" aren't very good at all, just very boring.

Etgar Keret has been getting a lot of attention in light of his recently released collection, Fly Already: Stories. Since I didn't want to plunk down the $27 retail price on the new co
Bernard Batubara
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
just finished reading the 1st book of 2016. another work by my newly fav author, Etgar Keret.

compared to the previous work of him that i've read, 'the girl on the fridge', this one is more surreal, more serious, much weirder, more hilarious, and yet also more subtle.

i'm really into his stories and looking forward to read all of his works!
Elyse  Walters
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Powerful, unique, fresh, invented....,and just damn good!!!!!
Sep 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The stories by Etgar Keret are great, hate the quality of the translation though.
Ms. McGregor
It was very different. Here's a quick like/ dislike breakdown though, in case anyone is interested:

1. Some of the stories just ended abruptly. I think this is really Keret's style and it is intentional more than it is lazy. But a lot of times a story would be over and I would feel like, "...SO??"
2. Some of the language in the book sounds racist or homophobic. I don't think Keret himself is racist or homophobic, but he feels the need to portray a lot of "macho" guys in his stories, and
Mar 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Perhaps if this was my first exposure to Etgar Keret I would have enjoyed it more. I'm not sure. Earlier this year I nearly swooned over his latest release Suddenly, a Knock on the Door. I fell sideways for his absurd sense of humor. Even the more serious stories were well crafted and poignant. Sadly there are only mild glimpses of that genius here.

I'm not necessarily saying this is a bad book at all. It is just not anywhere on the same level as Suddenly, a Knock on the Door. There are a couple
Jul 28, 2012 rated it liked it
The first collection of short stories by Israeli writer Etgar Keret published in English starts out brilliantly, with several surreal and fantastic tales that seem to be a witches' brew of the best of Jorge Luis Borges, mixed with a splash of Julio Cortázar and José Donoso. In the title story, a principled but misunderstood bus driver invokes a higher calling to serve one of his passengers, though with an unexpected result. In "Uterus", a young man despairs when his mother's organ, preserved for ...more
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
There is a direct path between Keret's fevered imagination and his written page. There are no speed limits or detours. The stories won't be inhibited by oppressive laws of physics, or even by reality. These are short intense bursts of 'what ifs'.
In "One Last Story and That's It", a demon shows up to the house of a writer, to take away his talent. The writer begs him to let him do just one more story. Well, ok, the demon agrees, and so he just hangs out for a bit, watching tv and drinking lemona
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm not generally a reader of short stories. They leave me feeling like I've had a snack when I'd rather have a meal. But when I watched the movie Wristcutters and saw that it's based on an Etgar Keret short story called "Kneller's Happy Campers," I was intrigued enough to give this collection a try. I'm glad I did. The stories are all a bit cracked, and deal with dark topics in a matter-of-fact and funny way.

My personal favorites were the title story, "Breaking the Pig," and "The Mysterious Dis
Craig Wallwork
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Etgar Keret has been decorated the prestigious title of Israel's hippest young writer, and from what I’ve read by his books, The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God, The Nimrod Flip Out, and Gazza Blues, he's worthy of the title.

His work is, as noted on Amazon, snapshots that illuminate with intelligence and wit. Hilarity and anguish are the twin pillars of his work. Keret covers a remarkable emotional and narrative terrain - from a father's first lesson to his boy to a standoff between soldiers ca
Emi Bevacqua
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emi by: Emily Burg
Great collection of short, weird stories. I liked all of them except the last, which was the longest. Most of them involve conflict and death, and yet they're funny. Like a modern-day Israeli Roald Dahl. ...more
Daniel Polansky
After last week’s somewhat disappointing snatch of Keret’s non-fiction it was fun to read him back in top form. I’m honestly shocked that Keret isn’t more popular than he is already—not only are his stories funny, poignant, and original, but they’re also simple and short. One of those rare books that can be enjoyed by people who like to read and people who don’t really like to read.
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I saw an article about Etgar Keret's book entitled "The Seven Good Years", I thought I'd give another Keret book a try before reading that one. I found a copy of The Bus Driver in our library and I borrowed both books at the same time. The Bus Driver was the first Etgar Keret book I've read and I've enjoyed his writing immensely. The Bus Driver is a collection of 3-4-pages-long short stories about the funny, ironic, and bitter realities of life. His stories were deemed as laugh-out-loud fun ...more
He's irreverent, and I love it. Before I heard Etgar Keret speak, I had no one who he was, but now I'm officially hooked. His writing is both brutally honest and impressively compact. Perfect example: The Son of the Head of the Mossad, a six page story that creates wonderful characters, has a concrete plot, and has an ending that leaves you feeling sated, fully comprehending the hypocrisy, the reason why Keret wrote the story, and marveling at the strength of his craft.

Favorite stories:
Clare Hutchinson
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: grown-up-fiction
Brief, intense stories. 'Shoes', 'Siren' and the extended 'Kneller's Happy Campers' stood out to me. I would have rated this higher, because it's very well done, but after a while the nihilistic tone really wore on me and I felt like I was being asked to admit so little of what was happening mattered, instead of investing emotionally. However, I did come away from this wanting to read more short stories!

This interview with the author really helped me understand the wider context for both his ba
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2006
The book I was reading in the few days I hemmed and hawed about flying out to Oregon...hoping that every phone call was the "she's gonna make it!" or "she's come back!" or "she's eating, weak but smiling!" phone call.

There is one short story about a young man whose mother dies in this book...and the grief attacking him while driving pointlessly in the rain (or that's how I remember it).

I considered it a gift from the universe.
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
even though some of the stories didn't end the way I wanted them to or they ended weirdly, I still had such a great time reading this book. it was surreal and dream-like, and even though it was odd as hell, it all kind of made sense and flowed so seamlessly.
I especially enjoyed "Pipes" and "Kneller's Happy Campers."
"The Flying Santinis" absolutely broke my heart.
these stories were mostly short but definitely packed a punch. I definitely want to check out etgar keret's other works.
May 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Some pretty amusing stories and some mildly annoying stories. I liked the last one best, which was about an after-life populated exclusively by suicides, including a suicide messiah and a dead rock star named Kurt and some bummed out suicide bombers. That story was the longest, so maybe the other stories were just to short for me to get into before they ended.
Jenny Staller
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, adults
Short story collections are, by their nature, a little uneven, but overall I really enjoyed this one. Keret's stories have a dark edge and usually a touch of magical realism, and reminded me of other short story heavy hitters like Vonnegut and Saunders. I particularly liked the title story and "Good Intentions", which I used for a creative writing class. ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
The stories in this collection were really short and had a different style of writing. Magical realism and surrealism has always been my favorites so i was hooked to the book from the first story. What I enjoyed the most was the subtle philosophies in a somewhat simple writing and story. Some of the stories were ordinary but I still enjoyed the book. Starting off another book of the same writer.
May 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Dark and funny, though better read with breaks between stories. I read it all in one sitting and the stories started to blur together because of the similarity of tone and sense of humor. The stories are fun little snippets (or dark little snippets) and worth a look.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Great ideas, not especially great writing. Very casual, off-the-cuff style. His stories often feel more like sketches or treatments. The TV version of George Saunders perhaps? And like TV, I sat on the couch consuming this unsure how much I was getting out of it.

Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
I probably should have marked it finished when I actually completed the book.. but it doesn't matter. It was a good book, I'd have to say I liked some stories better than others but they were all relatively good. ...more
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Etgar Keret is an Israeli writer known for his short stories, graphic novels, and scriptwriting for film and television. His books had been published in more than thirty languages.

Keret has received the Prime Minister's award for literature, as well as the Ministry of Culture's Cinema Prize. The short film Malka Lev Adom (Skin Deep, 1996), which Keret wrote and directed with Ran Tal, won an Israel

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