aunnie, July 6, 2009 (view all comments by aunnie)
This book was hilarious. The trials and tribulations of Shalom Auslander versus God kept me in stitches. While serious at points, the seriousness is perfectly balanced with the jocose.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (6 of 12 readers found this comment helpful)
Jonathan Todd , January 20, 2008 (view all comments by Jonathan Todd )
Powells: You describe this piece as "an original essay".
It can hardly be that - Shalom Auslander has stolen the title from Greg McGee's play "Foreskin's Lament", the New Zealand Play of the Year for 1981.
There's nothing original in plagiarism, but why stop with just the title? "... be a man and steal the lot!"
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (22 of 52 readers found this comment helpful)
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"'Auslander, a magazine writer, describes his Orthodox Jewish upbringing as 'theological abuse' in this sardonic, twitchy memoir that waits for the other shoe to drop from on high. The title refers to his agitation over whether to circumcise his soon to be born son, yet another Jewish ritual stirring confusion and fear in his soul. Flitting haphazardly between expectant-father neuroses in Woodstock, N.Y., and childhood neuroses in Monsey, N.Y., Auslander labors mightily to channel Philip Roth with cutting, comically anxious spiels lamenting his claustrophobic house, off-kilter family and the temptations of all things nonkosher, from shiksas to Slim Jims. The irony of his name, Shalom (Hebrew for 'peace'), isn't lost on him, a tormented soul gripped with dread, fending off an alcoholic, abusive father while imagining his heavenly one as a menacing, mocking, inescapable presence. Fond of tormenting himself with worst-case scenarios, he concludes, 'That would be so God.' Like Roth's Portnoy, he commits minor acts of rebellion and awaits his punishment with youthful literal-mindedness. But this memoir is too wonky to engage the reader's sympathy or cut free Auslander's persona from the swath of stereotype — and he can't sublimate his rage into the cultural mischief that brightens Roth's oeuvre. That said, a surprisingly poignant ending awaits readers.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher,
"Shalom Auslander writes like Philip Roth's angry nephew. Foreskin's Lament is a scathing theological rant, a funny, oddly moving coming-of-age memoir, and an irreverent meditation on family, marriage, and cultural identity. God may be a bit irritated by this book, but I loved it."
by Matt Klam, author of Sam the Cat,
"If you read this while you're eating, the food will come out your nose. Foreskin's Lament is a filthy and slightly troubling dialogue with God, the big, old, physically abusive ultra orthodox God who brought His Chosen People out of Egypt to torture them with non kosher Slim Jims. I loved this book and will never again look at the isolated religious nutjobs on the fringe of American society with anything less than love and understanding."
by Miami Herald,
"[A]n audacious, poke-God-in-the-eye memoir written by thirtysomething Shalom Auslander, who waxes hilariously upon the 'theological abuse' he suffered during a strict Orthodox upbringing in Monsey, N.Y."
by New York Times,
"Writing with humor and bitter irony about the most personal subjects, with deep, real-world consequences, is no task for an acolyte, although many have tried. With his middle finger pointed at the heavens and a hand held over his heart, Auslander gives us Foreskin's Lament. Mazel tov to him."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"[A] terrific book I was sad I read in so few sittings, because I wanted more."
by Cleveland Plain Dealer,
"Auslander calls God names you're not allowed to call your little brother. I found the book lyrical, hysterical and refreshingly atypical."
by Philadelphia Inquirer,
"Writing funny and angry columns is one thing, but sustaining that pitch of laughter and fury for the length of a book is extraordinarily difficult. Auslander succeeds."
by St. Petersburg Times,
"It would be a mistake to construe this book as anti-Semitic. It is, instead, a repudiation of fundamentalisms of all stripes."
In his bitingly funny memoir of growing up in a dysfunctional Jewish family and wrestling with a vengeful God, Auslander's combination of unrelenting humor and anger renders a rich and fascinating portrait of a man grappling with his faith, family, and community.
I was nine years old when my mother forced me to convert to Christianity .”
When Theodore Ross moved from New York City to small-town Mississippi, his mother insisted that the family pretend to not be Jewish. He was sent to an Episcopal school, where he studied the Bible, sang in the choir, and even took communion. As an adult, he abandoned the religious charade, but wondered: Am I a Jew? In search of an answer, Ross immersed himself within communities on the fringes of Jewish identity—Crypto-Jews,” Lost Tribes,” the ultra-Orthodox, and more. Filled with humor, curiosity, and sincerity, Am I a Jew? explores Americas riotous religious diversity, and one mans quest to stake a claim within it.
A New York Times Notable Book, and a chaotic, laugh riot” (San Francisco Chronicle) of a memoir.
Shalom Auslander was raised with a terrified respect for God. Even as he grew up and was estranged from his community, his religion and its traditions, he could not find the path to a life where he didnt struggle daily with the fear of Gods formidable wrath. Foreskins Lament reveals Auslanders painfully, cripplingly, incurably, miserably religious” youth in a strict, socially isolated Orthodox Jewish community, and recounts his rebellion and efforts to make a new life apart from it. His combination of unrelenting humor and anger renders a rich and fascinating portrait of a man grappling with his faith and family.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.