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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.
So I've covered that it's aimlessly angry. It's also poorly written. The prose borders on stream of consciousness in the worst possible ways (characters mutter and make noises in a way that I think is supposed to progress the story but fails at the task). But probably the worst element is that this exercise is ultimately pointless. He's still a practicing jew living in constant shame with his neuroses to this day. There's not even a how or why regarding how he can remain in the fold, just muttered expletives and this sense of dread for the reader that he's perpetuating the same crap on his own kids. Maybe not orthodoxy, but certainly passive fatalism and extreme self-obsession. Very frustrating, beginning to end.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have bought and given out 14 copies of this hilarious and deeply moving book. It has all that I seek in a novel. A context that is so different from my life. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Glen Bergenfield
one of my all-time favorite books! Discovered this book and love it. By the author of HBO"s Happy-ish! DarkPublished 8 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 10 months ago by Jeffrey D. Ehmann
The joke got stale about halfway through, so I didn't finish the bookPublished 11 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 12 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 12 months ago by Debbie Gilman