Read Beware Of God by Shalom Auslander Online

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Shalom Auslander's stories have the mysterious punch of a dream: a pious man having a near-death experience discovers that God is actually a chicken, and is forced to reconsider his life - and his diet. Leo Schwartzman searches Home Depot for supplies for an ark. And a young boy mistakes Holocaust Remembrance Day as emergency-preparedness training for the future.AuslanderShalom Auslander's stories have the mysterious punch of a dream: a pious man having a near-death experience discovers that God is actually a chicken, and is forced to reconsider his life - and his diet. Leo Schwartzman searches Home Depot for supplies for an ark. And a young boy mistakes Holocaust Remembrance Day as emergency-preparedness training for the future.Auslander draws upon his Orthodox Jewish upbringing to craft stories that are filled with shame, sex, God and death....

Title : Beware Of God
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780330442046
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 405 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Beware Of God Reviews

  • Maciek
    2018-11-19 09:27

    I've never heard of Shalom Auslander before picking up Beware of God, his debut collection of short stories. I approached the book without any specific expectations, but ended up reading them all during a surprisingly warm afternoon at the park. I'm happy that I've read it and that I discovered Shalom Auslander, as his book is a total hoot, and I really had a lot of fun while reading it. I'm now looking forward to reading more of Shalom Auslander, and I'm already eyeing his novel and memoir.All fourteen stories collected here are - obviously - concerned with God and belief in general; it's difficult to classify them. I think that they'd be best described as a combination of parable with parody - a sort of satirical homage, so to speak. But what's most important is that these stories are funny - I have actually laughed out loud while reading this book, and the humor seemed to be cut out just for me - surreal, very satirical and quite dark, at times openly bordering on juvenile but never dumb (I know it sounds like a contradiction, but trust me - that's how it is). These stories contain a fair amount of profanity and swearing - but both are natural elements of language and everyday expression, and in Auslander's stories profanity comes naturally - it's not forced and put there for shock value, only to offend.Since the book is concerned with God and The Allmighty himself is not only portrayed in these stories but appears as an actual protagonist in several of them. None of these stories come off as purposefully blasphemous and written purely to attack the religious - although they contain elements of recognizable (Jewish) theology the're not pointing it out and mocking it. If anything, they show how a religion can eat its own tail and become lost in the endless dogmas and rules of the book, disassociated from the God that it worships and the reality of the believers who follow it.Having God as a protagonist is never easy, but Auslander pulls it off. How can we know the mind of God if he works in mysterious ways? However, if we're created in God's own image, doesn't it follow that He can be a bit like us? Can God not feel to well sometimes, and simply have a bad day when things don't go according to His divine plan? Can God say bad words? Well, here he can. We have an irritated and grumpy God having to arrange a drive-by to off a guy whom Death missed on his rounds; in another story God is a divine CEO who organizes a conference and has people go forward with proposals on how to make faith - and himself - more appealing in modern time. In another story, he becomes the annoying voice in a prophet's head, demanding all his wishes to be fulfilled and ultimately achieving the exact opposite result; In a highlight of the volume, a very religious and devoted man dies and discovers that God is literally a giant chicken - and is horrified by the thought of all the people who slobber on His Body every day, and begs to be allowed to go back and stop his wife and kids from going to the KFC.Stories also focus on the relationship towards God, or those whom we perceive to be God - two hamsters argue theologically at how to best please their divine benefactor who seems to have forgotten to fill up their food - a teenage boy with raging hormones; in what is probably my favorite story a man called Epstein reads Kabbalah for Dummies and creates himself a Golem, whom he intends to be his faithful servant - one who would obediently do the dishes, the laundry, and all the things that Epstein - his creator, and therefore, God - doesn't really like doing. Things go very well, so well in fact that Epstein decides to create a second Golem - two servants are always better than one! - but this proves to be a fatal mistake, as both Golems are total fundamentalists, hopelessly devoted to pleasing Epstein. Even when he issues them a simple order, they argue endlessly between themselves as how it should be interpreted and can never come into an agreement, driving old Epstein crazy - but the vain bastard sort of had this coming, and by the end we feel sorry for the poor Golems rather than for the man who created them.Humor is obviously a very subjective thing and a book like this will not appeal to every reader, but I believe that it deserves a wider audience than it has so far enjoyed. Beware of God is short and funny and bound to entertain those who don't fear the possibility of having some of their sensibilities ruffled - buy or borrow it, read it, laugh and share it with your friends, but maybe don't bring it to your Bible study group just yet.

  • Reese
    2018-12-14 06:26

    If you're not Jewish, don't expect to "get" this book; better yet, DON'T GET this book because, at best, you'll probably only sort of "get" it. If you ARE Jewish, are you ultra-Orthodox? Are you religious, but don't mind Jews mocking Jews and Judaism? Are you afraid of G-d? (Did you answer the previous question with "There's a G-d???") Do you think that you KNOW what G-d wants Jews to do and not to do? Do you imagine that, if G-d exists (and you're really not sure about that), He/She/It has a sense of humor? Do YOU have a sense of humor? Where/When does your sense of humor stop? Obviously, I think that your responses to these questions should determine whether you read Shalom Auslander's BEWARE OF G-D or forget that the book exists.Auslander's collection of stories is LIKE a salad with hot peppers, pineapple chunks, artichokes, grape tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, bleu cheese, slivered almonds, raisins, and wilting lettuce. No dressing. The actual ingredients in an Auslander "salad": 1) G-d has abandoned us -- maybe. 2)You can "die laughing" -- or just plain die -- from religious fanaticism. 3)Proof is a midget; belief is a giant; and in real life, Davids don't kill Goliaths. 4)Thinking about the history of the Jews is terrifying; if you're Jewish, you need several back doors, a Plan A, a Plan B -- can you ever have enough plans? Some of Auslander's stories are mildly amusing; others, quite funny; some taste bitter; some give you something to really chew on; a few are bland. And of course, some stories are harder to swallow than others. BEWARE OF G-D gets four stars from me. But keep in mind that I'm a practicing Jew who has more questions than answers; who has less fear of G-d than of all types of extremists; and who believes that, in the hierarchy of gifts available to us, laughter shares the top spot with love.

  • Anastasia
    2018-11-15 07:27

    "Straordinario.. C'è della genialità in Auslander. Le sue storie non vi usciranno più dalla testa". - The Guardian.Menghia vero, cioè, tipo quella in cui c'era..ma sì la tipa..oddio come si chiamava..WHATEVER, come dimenticare comunque quella..oddio me so' scordata il titolo..beh, ma però parlava..parlava.........The Guardian, ..seriously?L'aggettivo migliore per definire tutti questi racconti incentrati sul rapporto con la divinità ebraica è..inutile. Non metto in dubbio che alcuni, attenti, alcuni di questi siano anche carini, ma come hanno detto altri, ti fa pensare, ma non riflettere e sinceramente non ti fa nemmeno sorridere. E non perché sia triste, ma perché non ti suscitano proprio nulla.Auslander va a mirare ad un campo ormai trito e ritrito, l'ebreo sarcastico che ridicolizza la propria religione è quasi un prototipo. Ne parla Roth, Woody Allen ne è il simbolo. I primi due esempi che mi vengono in mente. Fra l'altro il libro di Roth sulla religione ebraica è Lamento di Portnoy, quello di Auslander Il lamento del prepuzio. Sospettosa la cosa, per quanto nella versione americana il lamento di Roth sia "complaint" e quello di Auslander "lament". Il succo è questo: oh tu ebreo dispettoso, se non hai niente di davvero efficace da dire, fai prima a non dir nulla. Quelli che si salvano dal mio disappunto sono Bobo, lo scimpanzé che si odiava, Lassù qualcuno ti ama, Una sola morte alla fine e Le allarmanti rivelazioni del libro perduto di Stan.Guarda caso quasi tutti trattano il tema del genere umano e della società odierna, lì Auslander se la cava. Niente di distinto o singolare, però se la cava. Su certi racconti m'interrogo ancora adesso. Ad esempio, Dritte sull'Olocausto per ragazzi è una serie di informazioni più o meno sapute e risapute, oppure inutili, sull'Olocausto e alcune indicazioni per un'ipotetica fuga. A leggerlo è quasi una schifezza tanto non ha utilità. A parte che..David Bowie nazista? Wtf?Ma anche Punisci i pagani, Charlie Brown è alquanto..insulso. Un racconto sulla continua battaglia fra Schulziani e Cocomeriani dopo la morte di Schulz. Scontri a ritmo di paccate, partire di baseball e i "santo cielo" di Charlie. Va bene, ma..embé? Forse è addirittura il racconto più embé di tutti. Si è capito il problema di questo libro per me.Non fa ridere né sorridere né intristire né riflettere.Essenzialmente è il nulla. (la faccia di Shalom mi fa paura..e se adesso mi viene a cercare sotto casa? che faccio, smentisco tutto e dico che ero in preda agli effetti dei funghi allucinogeni?)

  • Arwen56
    2018-11-21 09:50

    Questa raccolta di racconti ha un grandissimo pregio: è breve.

  • Mark
    2018-11-20 10:51

    A friend of mine lent me this book after i had lent him Auslander's ' A Foreskin's lament '. They are a collection of short stories with the common theme of God. If you are of a nervous disposition as far as God centred stories are concerned then i would advise you to avoid these but if, like me, you bank on God actually having a good sense of humour then read these. The language can be a little choice and Auslander is certainly not backward in coming forward in the ' speaking as you find ' stakes but I found them very thought provoking and if they made me rather uncomfortable at some times then maybe that is a good thing. Some really deep issues occur but are treated in a humourous way and I found fascinating the flights of fancy resulting from 'Death' having failed, in one of the stories, to kill the hero and the extra work that gave God who had to re-mould the lives of others who came into contact with someone whom they never should have met. Re-telling of Charlie Brown story, Good grief; the Almighty as a chicken or should that be Chicken, What might have happened to Noah in 21st century America and assorted attempts to understand the mysterious ways of God. The last story about the creation of golems was, for me, astoundingly unsettling and I am not quite sure why but I found, on the whole, this was a goodread !

  • Sarah
    2018-11-26 10:39

    Truly irreverent recovering Orthodox Jew. Did I mention that he's funny as hell? One word: YES.

  • Elliot Ratzman
    2018-12-04 11:42

    Beware of Shalom Auslander, he’s working out a childhood of bad theology. We know from his superior memoir “Foreskin’s Lament” that he grew up in an abusive household in a superstitious ultra-orthodox community. All of his lingering anxieties and resentments against God-according-to-the-blackhats come out in these stories: a callous God as a complaining gangster, a big chicken, instructing some schmuck to build an ark from supplies at Home Depot. Rabbinic culture is aptly parodied. Auslander has a great sense of timing, and these pieces feel like they were translated from the Yiddish. Yet most seem forced and forgettable, operating on one-note jokey set-ups: the Peanuts characters in a war of religion, hamsters waiting for their human master to feed them, etc. This is not great literature, but may be a momentary salve for those also abused by religion. The last story, about a domestic Golem gone astray is the best, but none hold a candle to Mike Gold’s “Jews without Money” (1930).

  • Roberto
    2018-12-07 07:39

    Il libro è una raccolta di racconti brevi, pieni di ironia e di sarcasmo nei confronti di Dio e della religione. Contrariamente al solito, sotto osservazione qui non c’è la religione cristiana, bensì quella ebraica. L’autore, di origini ebraiche, fa riferimento a dogmi, versi ed espressioni non tipiche della religione ebraica, comunemente a noi poco note.I racconti brevi consentono di spaziare tra svariate ambientazioni e temi differenti, cercando di passare in rassegna i dubbi che normalmente si presentano alla coscienza dell’uomo comune.Lo stile irriverente e graffiante di Auslander ironizza un po’ su tutto: su dio, sui divieti e timori di punizioni e privazioni tipici della tradizione ebraica, sull’osservanza della Tradizione con i suoi gesti ripetitivi e senza senso.A volte l’ironia è irriverente, come nel racconto “Dio è un grosso pollo felice”, in cui il protagonista, deceduto, scopre con sorpresa che dio non è altro che un pollo enorme che vive senza curarsi del destino dell’umanità. O quando Schwartzman, protagonista del racconto “Il dilemma del profeta” è costretto a rivolgersi ad uno psicanalista perché estenuato dalle insistenti richieste di dio relative alla costruzione dell’arca, di un altare e di tutte le altre incombenze descritte nel vecchio testamento. Oppure quando dio deve selezionare agenzie stampa per la propria campagna pubblicitaria.Bello lo stile di Auslander, che ci fa immedesimare nelle situazioni più strambe e nei personaggi più disparati, dall’adolescente con tempesta ormonale allo scimpanzé che improvvisamente prende coscienza di sé e della sua condizione. Sicuramente l’immagine di dio che ne risulta non è delle migliori; ma i racconti alla fine sono un ottimo spunto per la riflessione. Belle le idee e bello lo stile; ma purtroppo l’effetto finale l’ho trovato un po’ noioso. L’ironia, sempre presente nel libro, dopo un po’ che si legge perde il suo impatto, il punto di vista dell’autore diventa chiaro dopo poche pagine e l’interesse pian piano va scemando. Soprattutto se si sono già letti altri libri dello stesso tipo dello stesso autore, quali ad esempio “Il lamento del prepuzio”

  • Matthew
    2018-11-19 10:36

    So, the obvious thing to say (because it is true) is that this book is a good mix of Woody Allen and Chaim Potok. It is true because it is funny (in a Jewish way), like Allen's short stories, and also knowledgeable about Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (in a Jewish way), like The Chosen or Asher Lev. But, really, it's not actually as funny as Woody Allen. And it doesn't say anything as interesting about Orthodox Judaism as Chaim Potok does. So, if you like Woody Allen and Chaim Potok, you would probably like this. But, then, not as much as you would enjoy re-reading Woody Allen or Chaim Potok.In a way, then, this book is kind of like the third-closest ice cream parlor to your house. On most measures, there's nothing wrong with it. But, honestly, you're never going to actually go there again because there are two ice cream parlors that are closer. Here, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories, but there's no chance that I'm ever going to read them again. The best story, by far, was the one where the guy creates some golems who worship him, but in a really Jewish way so that they argue about everything he says and get it all wrong. The worst story was about Chicken because -- and who could have expected this? -- the story where the deity is a giant chicken was actually really trite. Also, the book was really short, but by the end it was already starting to feel repetitive. Overall, as someone once said (I forget who), each story in this book (like life itself) is full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly.

  • Michael
    2018-12-03 08:53

    Charming, witty, concise and edgy.Naturally, considering the background of Shalom Auslander, most of the stories in the book deal mainly with aspects, views, history and stories from Judaism; though to say only that much would not suffice to pay the content credit. The way in which the stories were conveyed weren't difficult to read, but the things learned from them are well worth the time invested; this is because of the various references to historical events (the holocaust and more), terms (many Jewish and Muslim), places (Charlie Brown's town, Heaven, A cage in an apartment, a zoo and more), ideas (displayed in wacky and admiral ways - I don't want to spoil anything), characters (hamsters, prurient and conscious apes, God, Death, Lucifer, pestering angels and more).It's understandable how someone/some people may take offense from such a work, but the story-telling and creativity skills of the author far outweigh the negatives considered or least breakeven.A good read indeed.

  • Vin
    2018-11-26 05:41

    If you weren't afraid of GOD before you read this book, you may suffer a bit of retributive paranoia afterward. My favorite piece was the Charlie Brown allegory. Auslander should be writing for the late night comics if he's not already...

  • Cristiano
    2018-12-02 06:46

    Beware of godIl titolo originale è tutto un programma. Fantasticavo pure sul fatto che god sia l'anagramma di dog.. Umorismo gradevole ma senza particolari vette quanto ad acume o ilarità . Forse la matrice ebrea non trova terreno fertile nel mio encefalo, considerato che anche Woody Allen mi lascia moderatamente indifferente.

  • Maurizio Manco
    2018-11-28 05:43

    "Se vi dovesse mai capitare di sentire nella testa una voce che vi dice di essere Dio e che benedirà voi e i vostri figli e i figli dei vostri figli, fate finta di non averLo sentito." (Il dilemma del profeta, p. 118)

  • Kest Schwartzman
    2018-11-28 07:50

    These stories are Really Good. Some of them are funny, others devastating, most are a little of both.

  • Josephus FromPlacitas
    2018-11-21 07:42

    "Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think," as Winston Smith's friend and Newspeak expert Syme said. This book did nothing to relieve my growing mistrust and dislike of Orthodox culture, which has just worsened as I travel through my new home in Brooklyn, New York. Closer exposure to the Jewish equivalent of the evangelical community has engendered in me a greater dislike for religious orthodoxy in general and Jewish Orthodoxy in particular. And my conversations with the psychically wounded daughters and sons of the Orthodox world, like Shalom Auslander and others I've met, have done nothing to encourage me to be sympathetic to the institution. Obviously the purpose of the book is not to give a reader a fair weighing of Orthodox life and thought, so that's something I shouldn't be looking for, but it's a natural conclusion that results from reading it. I nearly gave up on the book halfway through, surprised to find that the stories early in the book were nowhere near as funny or enjoyable without his voice reading them. I'd first encountered his work on the radio, and thought that quality would carry over. I was on the verge of giving up until the story of the two hamsters waiting for their god to return. That was funny and thoughtful, it engaged me again, and from there he held me through the rest of the book. Some of the work grabbed me and some of it felt like bloodless grad school short story workshop writing. Maybe if I'd read it on a different month I'd feel differently. It leaves me curious to know whether this guy is a full-on atheist these days or what his relationship with the idea of "God" is after growing up in such a maladjusted spiritual environment.

  • Tung
    2018-11-19 12:54

    Auslander is a writer who grew up in a strict Orthdox Jewish home. This upbringing has apparently caused him to hold a very dark perspective on religion and God, as this short story collection by Auslander is filled with stories representing all manner of negative aspects of religion, and the tension between our lives and our faith. For example, in the first story (“The War of the Bernsteins”), a man decides to become more and more religious at the expense of his marriage even though preserving one’s marriage is also an act of faith. In another story (“Startling Revelations from the Lost Book of Stan”), a man finds ancient texts that prove the Old Testament (and also the New Testament) are fraudulent – only world religious leaders and their followers actively disbelieve him and end up erasing the man’s life altogether (making the point that blind faith is more readily accepted by society than truth). Several other stories (“Waiting for Joe” and “Smite the Heathens, Charlie Brown”) paint theism from the perspective of hamsters and cartoon characters, respectively, and their struggle between believing in or not believing in their owners/creators. Overall, the stories are clever and the satire is strong and clear. But its weakness is that because almost all of these satires come from the same dark perspective, the book as a whole felt one-dimensional to me. My two favorite stories (“Holocaust Tips for Kids” and “God is a Big Happy Chicken”) work for me because they take a more balanced approach to the topic of religion, and are able to satire the negative of faith within the contexts of positive faith. Still, a solid collection of satires and a recommended read.

  • Raya
    2018-12-15 06:34

    Wanting to read something quick and light, I searched my overflowing bookshelves and settled on Beware of God by Shalom Auslander. He first came to my attention because my husband, a rabbinical student (secular Humanist) has been following the careers of several writers who left their restrictive Orthodox communities, and were basically cut from their families' lives. Auslander has a bone to pick with the Orthodox community, and God in general, and his stories don't mince words when pointing out some of the ludicrous ideas of faith and practices from his former community. That he manages to make these (often quite philosophical) stories so funny, is truly a feat. He shows the deeply faithful, whose faith is usually misplaced on a God who isn't worthy of such trust and worship. He shows the often hypocritical nature of members of his former community, who are just as horny as the next non-O guy on the street. The only thing that detracted from them, at least from me, is that they often felt too much like Woody Allen's short stories. Allen has three collections that I've read a number of times, and I liked his stories much more than his films. (After the Soon Yi mess, I find him too creepy to read anymore, and haven't seen any of his films in years.) While Auslander has a more singular theme, of sticking it to his former community, Allen's stories were much more varied in protagonist, but were also often philosophical. What is really striking is that the language both use, and the cadence of the sentences, is very, very similar. I looked forward to reading his memoir, Foreskin's Lament.

  • Sarah
    2018-11-29 07:53

    These stories are razors. There is one about what happens to you if you discover new information about the holiest of Books. There is one about what happens when fundamentalism comes to Charlie Brown's neighborhood. There is one in which consciousness is bestowed upon a chimpanzee and all he gets out of it is poop. There is one that portrays God as a put-upon balancer of life and another one that portrays God as a chicken (not as in "yellow," but as in "buck-buck-ba-caw"). Auslander's head is damaged, scary place, but I found it full of cunning, moving allegory.Don't listen to the people who say you can't get this book if you aren't Jewish. I'm not Jewish. I got a lot out of it. What's more, the writing is crisp and smooth without seeming like he's trying too hard. Auslander clearly builds from his upbringing, but he is his own author. I read the whole book in a day and I don't even care that much for short stories.It's the next day and I'm already a quarter through Foreskin's Lament. You can see they are related. I imagine these are the stories he keeps deleting in the latter book.

  • Qiana
    2018-11-19 07:39

    My hopes for this collection may have been too high. I enjoyed hearing Auslander read "Waiting for Joe" on NPR's This American Life, which is the funniest and most insightful story in the book. "Joe" offers new perspective on how we live and practice faith, using the hilariously short-sighted point of view of two hamsters waiting for the Almighty One who will feed them. Some may call this kind of humor blasphemy, but I think such creativity is lovely, bold, and always necessary. (It makes me happy, in the words of Todd Flanders from "The Simpsons" - "and not Christian happy, but 'for real' happy.") The rest of the collection is a bit uneven as Auslander seems to rework the same metaphors about God as a grumpy ol' Creator or condescending CEO. I also didn't understand many of the references to Jewish culture and tradition, which made some of the stories less interesting to me. But "God is a Big Happy Chicken" is wonderfully absurd. And the story, "They're all the Same" reminded me of Colson Whitehead's Apex Hides the Hurt as a Manhattan ad agency tries to figure out new ways to "sell" religion for the postmodern age. ("Feeling Odd? Try God.")

  • Michelle Smitherman
    2018-11-26 06:33

    My friends and I really enjoyed reading this book out loud to each other. I advise taking it to a pub and sharing it with others as well. Hilarious quick reads. One of my favorites stories was the one about the chimp who spontaneously came to a higher understanding of life. I believe it was through a thorough understanding of something like death, god, shame, and guilt (I may be mistaken about the last one). My favorite story by far was about a man whom escaped death and began to ponder over whether he was a truly lucky person or if someone 'up there' might be trying to kill him, with the later being the reality of the situation and god coming down to finish off the job that Death was incapable of finishing as a means of correcting the cycle of foreordination. I enjoyed the authors portrayal of God as more of an average Joe dealing with stress, flaws, bad habits, unreliable acquaintances, suffering from natural human impulses, regret, and the occasional traffic. But what can he do about it, he is merely doing his job following the predestined universal order

  • Jordan
    2018-11-25 13:52

    Beware of God is a collection of short stories so rife with theological absurdism that they could almost be mistaken for lighthearted thought experiments. In this collection we find tales of hamsters who debate the existence of their owner, a zoo monkey who becomes self-aware and has an existential crisis, a God who visits a marketing agency to raise his appeal to Westerners and more.Shalom Auslander was, according to the about the author page, raised as an Orthodox Jew. His familiarity with religious philosophy is readily apparent in his writing and so is his abandonment of his childhood faith. The book frequently crosses over from being edgy or tastefully obscene to being sacrilegious and blasphemous. There is an almost misotheistic bitterness to the writing that clashes with the humorous nature of the stories. They are highly enjoyable and well-written but they can also be quite heavy-handed and offensive.

  • Arja Salafranca
    2018-11-16 10:45

    God is a gangster come down to earth to finally kill off a man who keeps evading death. No, in fact God is a chicken, happy with his corn and feed, just wanting the basic comforts in life. No, still not right? OK. God is an impatient being who plays with his subjects, asking a New Yorker to build an ark; when the man ignores God, God finally stops imploring him and goes off to prey on someone else’s obsessions.These seemingly irreverent stories come from the mind of Shalom Auslander, who was raised as an Orthodox Jew in New York. Judging from the tone and temper of these short stories, one has to assume that Auslander is no longer an Orthodox Jew, but instead a critical writer who turns notions of God, religion and especially Judaism on its head.On the surface these stories are fun, witty, quick reads – you can read the book in one setting and then move onto weightier reads. But you’re unlikely too. These stories are also haunting, because they are so shocking.

  • Matthew
    2018-12-05 07:50

    What a dissapointment. After reading Auslander's hilarious and excellent "Hope: A Tragedy", I was excited to read his shorter fiction. Unfortunately, this collection just doesn't add up. Now, as someone who doesn't identify or relate with Orthodox Judaism, I found myself a but befuddled,finding myself unable to fully connect with the characters and stories. Part of this, however, goes beyond the religious themes, and lays in the fact that most of these stories are gimmicky. Peanuts characters launching into a religious war, God meeting with an ad agency to expand his demographics, a man reaches heaven only to discovered that God is a chicken, etc. These stories have enough zaniness to spark interest, but lack the focus to hold it.I would have given this collection 1 star, if not for "Bobo, The Self Hating Chimp", which I found to be undeniably hilarious. A lone winner in a sea of duds. 2/5

  • Sandi
    2018-11-14 05:36

    "These are stories which, for the most part, reduce religion to its absurd components. Auslander knows whereof he speaks. He endured a strict Orthodox upbringing; that influence isn't going away in a hurry... They read as though they have, in the writer's dream formulation, written themselves. I found myself asking, again and again, "why hasn't this been done already?" That's a good sign - a sign, almost, of genius; or at least of something pretty close to it. You will not get these out of your head once they're in there."from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/...NB: I would not call Auslander a genius, but I would have given this book five stars had it not been for the offensive moments (usually in the form of replicating stupid stereotypes). An author this intelligent and given to turning convention on its head should really know better.

  • John
    2018-11-14 06:31

    Catching up on my reviews...Picked this up, remaindered, because I'd admired a couple of Auslander stories I'd read elsewhere. Taken in this quantity, though, I'm less impressed; Auslander's stories, most of which are concerned with the religious-inflected travails of Jewish characters, read as if they were written by a less-funny Woody Allen, circa Without Feathers, one who was more concerned with theology than philosophy. I still admire "Holocaust Tips for Kids," which is the one story centered on a recognizable human character rather than an archetype, stereotype, or a concept masquerading as a character; much of the rest are merely diverting (though "Waiting for Joe" is just plain awful in its obviousness). He definitely can write, so it will be interesting to see if he's more than a one-trick pony.

  • Lily
    2018-12-14 05:44

    Very funny overall – not surprising, coming from Auslander – but often too on the nose and bordering on one-note in its blanket darkness. Most of the stories felt unsurprising. I loved a lot the concepts: God as a hitman, God as the schmucky least-favorite client of an advertising agency, God as creator or caretaker (Charles Schulz, a guy who made some golems, hamster owner). But the outcomes were too obvious, too easy, as though it were shocking enough to mock the hypocritical nature of religious leaders to hang the crux of a story on it. I'm all for a good mocking, but it's not exactly a twist.I did enjoy it, though, especially (as others here have said) the story "Holocaust Tips for Kids". Whether or not you're religious, I think anyone who's had a Jewish upbringing will get a kick out of the book. Just don't expect anything you haven't seen before in one form or another.

  • Charlotte
    2018-12-12 13:49

    I heard an excerpt from this book on This American Life and thought is was too cutting to resist. It is a series of short stories told from the perspective of God (who at times takes the form of the angry old testament deity, at other times a deity completely unconcerned with the human race, and, in once case, a happy chicken) and his terrified followers. Themes of guilt and fear-based adherence to rules run strung through this insider's picture of Jewish life and religion. I feel a bit guilty for reading it and a bit more for finding it funny -- and it is irreverently, wickedly funny. At times, the humor hit a bit too close to home for me to be entirely comfortable reading it, but that is why this book is good for me. Next time I feel tempted to a stringent, rule-based and self-centered view of faith, I'll see it through Auslander's eyes and laugh.

  • Joseph Pinchback
    2018-11-22 05:46

    There's not a whole lot of depth to these short stories, but many of them are quite entertaining. I read this all in one sitting, and I couldn't help but wish for more, especially because I enjoyed these stories so much. Auslander devotes this entire collection to the weighty themes of the faith of one's childhood and the effect that that faith continues to have throughout one's life. Unfortunately, none of the stories delve deep enough into these issues. It's a wonderful beginning, and I hope Auslander has more to say in the future. Say what you want about this collection of stories, one thing makes itself clear: Shalom Auslander is PISSED, and I, for one, find it hard to argue with him.

  • Lauren
    2018-11-17 09:31

    I enjoyed this book a great deal. It is definitely irreverent (fine with me) and at times scathing, but through the short-story genre, Auslander artfully channels what appears to be his rage and frustration with religion. His memoir ("Foreskin's Lament"), on the other hand, felt too raw... and almost as if it were completely lacking in an understanding of the sociology or psychology behind religion.An example of a clever short-story premise: two men figure out how to create golems, and the golems spend all of their time canonicalizing meaningless rituals and routines of the men (i.e. gods), not to mention fighting. Obvious but clever and entertaining metaphor for man's relationship with God.

  • Daniel
    2018-11-23 12:54

    This was a surprisingly quick read and while I missed a few of the finer points of Judaism, I understood enough to make them humorous and thought provoking. Auslander makes no bones about taking a fantastical element as far as it can go, but he knows what he's talking about and the stories open themselves up for re-reading and discussion. (If only the book club that made me get it was still happening!) From sentient monkeys to neo-Noahs to the Peanuts to chicken-gods to golems, he picks apart the foibles of human belief, challenging people to think about what they believe rather than just go along with the herd.I don't really want to review each story separately, so I just hope somebody else reads it and wants to discuss at some point.