Orly Castel-Bloom's stories take place against a background of banality. Time after time the world is revealed as hostile and merciless. In the title story, "Not Far from the Center of Town," Dalia and Avishai's married life in the big city is depicted laconically. "Christopher's Bar Mitzvah" exposes the loathing between Christopher's parents who use their son's great day as a weapon against each other. In the story "Wonderchild" a successful journalist undergoes an operation and becomes a 13 year old, "lost, poor, but very, very smart." "Joe, a Man of Cairo" describes a Jewish family living in Cairo in the 1950s, suffering from the hostility of their neighbors. "The Mystery of the Pig's Head" is a stinging, ironic description of the lives of Israelis living in the United States.
Unbidden Stories displays a characteristic eccentricity of vision, and a unique way of zooming in on their subjects. In "How Can You Lose Your Cool, When the Kinneret's as Calm as a Pool?" an irritable, suspicious "very big man" is sent by friends to regain his equilibrium in Tiberias, where he is fed seaweed pills by a Japanese representative of Shu-Mu-Shu Pharmaceuticals. He responds with typical paranoia. Even when the writer fleetingly deals with the Arab-Israeli conflict in "Death in the Olive Grove," the story, which includes a gory stabbing, shocks precisely due to its apparent apathy and flatness. In Abandoned Memories disillusionment with both society and relationships is blatant. In "The Party," the author pokes fun at bourgeois pretensiousness while disinterestedly describing society's indifference to human suffering. "Danielle and Daniella" is the story of the writer's two cousins, one from Paris and the other from Tel Aviv, both of whom are unhappy and unable to accept reality and both of whom are involved in a race for money.
Selected stories available in English translation (for publishers only)