Friday, October 12, 2007

Foreskin's Lament: A Memoir

If you have the same on again off again relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that I do, you will find Shalom Auslander’s new book Foreskin’s Lament: A Memoir a great relief. Why? You, my friend, are not the neurotic, theological, freak you thought you were. Trust me. Shalom Auslander has that neurotic, paranoid, god thing down.

“The teachers from my youth are gone, the parents old and mostly estranged. The man they told me about, though – he’s still around. I can’t shake him. I read Spinoza. I read Nietzsche. I read National Lampoon. Nothing helps. I live with Him every day, and behold, He is still angry, still vengeful, still – eternally – pissed off.”

Next Auslander's thought process goes something like this: ‘Not only is god pissed off, he’s coming after me.’

After his wife announces she is pregnant, for instance, the first thing he does is trash all 350 pages of his god stories, not wanting to tempt god into divine retribution during this moment of joy. “The stories I had been working on were about my life under the thumb of an abusive, belligerent god, a god who awoke millennia ago on the wrong side of the firmament and still hasn’t cheered up. Working title: God Walks Beside Me with a .45 in My Ribs.”

But he always comes back to his writing because he wants his still unborn son or daughter to know his side of the story, why he has chosen not to raise him or her as he was raised, or why (as his mother says) he has forsaken his people. If you read and enjoyed Daivd Sedaris, you will enjoy this book. (David Sedaris trying to explain an overflowing toilet to a french plumber in Me Talk Pretty One Day: “The toilet, she cry often.”)

In Foreskin’s Lament, Shalom Auslander traces his fitful path through community, religion, and tradition from boyhood to adulthood with a sense of humor and an unbelievable neurotic sensibility. Enjoy!

Listen to the NPR interview with Shalom Auslander.

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