Crazy Glue by Etgar Keret: Summary, Analysis and Review

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you read these two words:

Crazy glue

I bet you can recall at least an incident or two about crazy glue – maybe you were the victim to whom the ‘crazy glue’ happened, or you were the one that gave someone their ‘crazy glue’ moment. 

There are so many stories available on ‘crazy glue incidents’ of people’s lives – some tragic and some outright comical. I will let Google be your friend on that search.

So why are we talking about it?

Enter Etgar Keret and his remarkable short story Crazy Glue.

Etgar Keret takes crazy glue beyond the physical realms into something much more. Crazy glue is a story about a couple who seem to be struggling in their marriage – nothing will stand out for you initially till our beloved ‘crazy glue’ is introduced. 

Here’s how:

Crazy Glue: Summary and Plot Analysis

The wife asks the husband not to touch ‘it’ as it is super glue. The husband asks what the glue was for, to which, upon not finding a satisfactory answer, expresses his irritation – unable to understand why she is fixated on ‘buying all this crap.’ 

The wife retorts with ‘of course!’, mentioning that she buys these things for the same reason that she married him: ‘to kill time.’

The husband is in no mood to get into a fight, and so is the wife; the fight that never happened, ended there. 

The husband asks if the glue is any good, and the wife shows him a picture of a guy that seems to be hanging from the ceiling with his shoes glued there. The husband mentions that to be impossible and points her to look at – what he believes are flaws in this presentation. She does not look. He then rushes off to work.

At work, the husband calls someone named Mindy, with whom he seems to be having an affair. He mentions to her that he will not be able to make it that day as his wife might suspect something. Mindy expresses her confusion about the husband still being in a relationship with his wife when they were hardly doing anything together. 

They were so apart that they were not even fighting anymore. The relationship was completely dead. 

Mindy begins crying; the husband consoles her by saying that he will come the next day and lies to end that conversation early.

The husband returns home. He calls her name but gets no answer. The odd thing he notices is that the super glue tube is completely empty, and his wife has glued the chairs and tables to the floor and has glued the fridge shut. 

He is puzzled by his wife’s behavior. She had been reasonably sane so far. It just wasn’t like her. 

He tried to call her to see if she was at her mother’s but was furious to see that she had glued the receiver as well.

It is then he hears her laughing – a laugh that seemed to be coming from up above him. She was hanging upside down from the living room ceiling. It looked like she had glued her feet to the ceiling. 

Completely flabbergasted at this point, he assures her that he will get her down safely, seeking help from outside if needed. He stacks a pile of books and climbs on top to pull her down from the ceiling, but nothing happens.

He reassures her, to which the wife responds, amazingly calm and still laughing, “I’m not going anywhere.”

At this point, the husband starts laughing too. She finds her very pretty, natural, and incongruous and reaches out to kiss her on the lips; they kiss passionately.

The books slipped out from under the husband’s feet, who is now hanging by her lips. 

Crazy Glue: Analysis and My Thoughts

I loved how poignant the story is, and how power-packed it is with emotions. To top it all, he used so few words to convey so many messages. I am fangirling over it right now, but I will rein in my excitement and point out a few excerpts that stood out for me.

“There’s nothing that needs gluing together,” I snapped. “I can’t understand why you buy all this crap.”

“The same reason I married you,” she shot back, “to kill time.”

The usual couple banter. Isn’t it? (Unless you are one of those couples that get along on everything, because in that case, R-E-S-P-E-C-T!).

The conversation is so relatable. I have heard a variation of this dialogue by every couple I know. Keret’s understanding of the couple banter is on point. 

I didn’t feel like getting into a fight, so I kept quiet, and so did she.

‘I don’t see why you stay with her,” she whispered in the end. “The two of you never do anything. You don’t even bother fighting anymore. I can’t figure out why you go on like this. I just don’t get what’s holding you together. I don’t get it,” she said again.

Again, to its core, this is such an astute observation. Lack of communication kills a relationship, and it’s the same thing that was happening there. The couple didn’t fight. This indicates that they are not putting in efforts into their relationship, as if they are convinced that it is beyond repair.

And then..

She was so pretty and so incongruous, hanging upside down from the ceiling that way. With her long hair dangling downward and her breasts molded like two per­fect teardrops under her white T-shirt. So pretty. I climbed back up onto the pile of books and kissed her.

Yes, they seemed to have fallen out of love, the husband cheating on her and wife apparently knowing this treachery, choosing not to talk as she is too indifferent to care.

The husband engaging in an affair simply to keep out the boredom and avoid confrontation. Just like the crazy glue, they have shut each other out of their lives with a striking passive force.

But here, he brings the silver lining: the spark is still there. It’s just that the things that brought that couple together had faded into the background. 

But now, when they laughed together, the memories had all come rushing back and so had the passion. But does it end there?

My fiercely romantic side would say Yes! They live happily ever after. But my pragmatic side (I do have one, and I am amazed at that myself!) does not agree. It says it is another roller coaster ride. 

Highs and lows – guess that’s common between your friendly neighborhood stock market and and your neighbor’s (and may be your own) marriage(s).

Kyle Smith once remarked, ‘Keret can do more with six paragraphs than most writers can with 600 pages’

I couldn’t agree more. AND there is nothing crazy about that.

So, what’s your crazy glue story? We would love to hear from you! If you would like to rest your eyes and exercise your ears instead, Here is an audio podcast of this article.

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