Foreskin’s Lament — out this October — is a hilarious and very angry memoir that chronicles Shalom Auslander’s move from the devout Orthodoxy of his childhood into a state of perpetual war with God. Like Twain, Auslander skewers his forebears’ religion not from the outside, a la Dawkins, Hitchens, and friends, but by turning the logic of the belief system against itself.
In the opening pages, he writes (and here, like the irresponsible and quasi-illiterate blogger scum I am, I quote without permission from the uncorrected proof):
When I was a child, my parents and teachers told me about a man who was very strong. They told me he could destroy the whole world. They told me he could life mountains. They told me he could part the sea. It was important to keep the man happy. When we obeyed what the man had commanded, the man liked us. He liked us so much that he killed anyone who didn’t like us. But when we didn’t obey what he had commanded, he didn’t like us. He hated us. Some days he hated us so much, he killed us; other days, he let other people kill us. We call these days “holidays.” On Purim, we remembered how the Persians tried to kill us. On Passover, we remembered how the Egyptians tried to kill us. On Chanukah, we remembered how the Greeks tried to kill us.
— Blessed is He, we prayed.
I’ll be interviewing Auslander at this year’s BEA, on Saturday, June 2, at 2 p.m. I hope you’ll come out to hear him talk about his book, and to see whether this shiksa interviewer (having repudiated her own tongues-speaking, demon-fearing, fundie Christian upbringing) can pronounce peyis and Adoshem.
For now, please sample his work at Nextbook. Unfortunately, the old This American Life appearances aren’t free to download anymore.