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Foreskin's Lament: A Memoir Paperback – October 7, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
"It was forbidden to watch TV, it was forbidden to write, it was forbidden to draw, it was forbidden to color. It was forbidden to play with trains because they used electricity. It was forbidden to play with Legos because it was considered building. It was forbidden to play with Silly Putty because if you pressed it against a newspaper it would transfer some of the ink to itself, and so it was considered printing."
More specifically, Auslander grew up in an unhappy Orthodox Jewish family. His father was belligerent and volatile and given to threats involving amputation. His mother wallowed in misery and home decorating. It's hardly surprising that in adulthood Auslander has complicated relationships with both his family and God, the latter an angry entity who, much like Auslander's father, specializes in inconsistent and disproportionate punishments. But Auslander still believes. He believes, for example, that God keeps a particularly careful eye on his misdemeanors, and he is always expecting God to screw him over.
Auslander writes about his fallings-out with both family and God in his very readable memoir Foreskin's Lament. (The reason for the title is made clear about halfway through the book.) He describes the various ways he acted out against both as a teenager; his back-and-forthing on the question of keeping kosher; his self-imposed, frankly shocking acts of penance.Read more ›
It's a line Auslander's wife and mine both say with a frightening regularity. Perhaps that's why I immediately resonated with this book, despite my lack of Orthodox Jew-ness, growing up in a completely different environment (West Virginia instead of New York) and other massive differences.
Then again, I was raised Catholic and have worn a Flying Spaghetti Monster T-shirt to Mass. Under a sweater, just in case someone (human or divine) noticed and decided to strike me down.
The humor I found was not the humor of slapstick or manners. It is the humor of deep, dark irony. It's the wry smile as the last thing that could go wrong *does* go wrong.
This is a darkly humorous book, and painfully honest. The zingers are real - but they apply to you more than you think.
You can either laugh or cry.
One thing is for sure.
God is laughing. Even if He doesn't exist.
But my, oh my, Auslander is angry. Very, very angry. And more so than the humor, this is what permeated this book for me. In many places, it completely washed out the humor.
Don't get me wrong, he's a funny man and knows how to turn a phrase for comic effect. There were moments I really, really enjoyed, and even one or two that made me laugh out loud. (Who names their kid peace?)
But I guess I was expecting something more like David Sedaris -- a man who really knows how to make the most of a screwed up and depressing situation.
Foreskin's Lament just left me uncomfortable, and possibly worried about Shalom's blood pressure. You just can't hang on to anger like that, can you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
one of my all-time favorite books! Discovered this book and love it. By the author of HBO"s Happy-ish! DarkPublished 2 months ago by skr
If you've lived around or have been exposed to Orthodox Jews (when you live in the NY metro area, its hard not to), this book will relieve that some of their young boys are just... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jeffrey D. Ehmann
The joke got stale about halfway through, so I didn't finish the bookPublished 5 months ago by Phyllis Gordon
Starts off interesting but the more I read the more I found the author's tone smug and self pitying. Read morePublished 6 months ago by tortuga
Not easy to read - whiny in tone , not much plot or story. That said, he is unsparing of anyone's feelings and one must admire his honesty.Published 7 months ago by Debbie Gilman
Wow! This memoir is funny, daring, honest...Wonderful! Whether you are Orthodox, formerly Orthodox, or just wanting a rather biting perspective from a man who is religious but not... Read morePublished 8 months ago by DanaNYC