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Beware of God: Stories

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,058 Ratings  ·  151 Reviews
Violent rabbis, lovelorn wives, a busy Grim Reaper, shame-filled simians, and one seriously angry deity populate this humorous and disquieting collection.
Shalom Auslander's stories in Beware of God have the mysterious punch of a dream. They are wide ranging and inventive: A young Jewish man's inexplicable transformation into a very large, blond, tattooed goy ends with a
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ebook, 208 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

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Maciek
Oct 09, 2014 Maciek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Reluctant fundamentalists
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
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Reese
May 05, 2013 Reese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 se ...more
Anastasia
Sep 14, 2014 Anastasia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2012
"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, al
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Arwen56
Sep 08, 2015 Arwen56 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Questa raccolta di racconti ha un grandissimo pregio: è breve.
Mark
Feb 25, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ' stak ...more
Sarah
Oct 23, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly irreverent recovering Orthodox Jew. Did I mention that he's funny as hell? One word: YES.
Elliot Ratzman
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 ...more
Matthew
Feb 08, 2013 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Michael
Aug 20, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 (m
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Vin
Nov 25, 2012 Vin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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...
Raya
Oct 10, 2016 Raya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
April
Dec 18, 2016 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hope: A Tragedy will always be my Auslander favorite but this collection is very good and will make you think.
Naomi Zener
Dec 29, 2016 Naomi Zener rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never have I laughed out loud or so hard whilst reading. Bravo!
Roberto
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 s
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Josephus FromPlacitas
"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 wou ...more
Tung
Dec 15, 2010 Tung rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
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 ...more
Sarah
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 da
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Qiana
Jul 24, 2008 Qiana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
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 hap
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Michelle Smitherman
Oct 25, 2008 Michelle Smitherman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone that can handle a sense of humor about matters of religion and philosophy
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 whe ...more
Jordan
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 rel
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Arja Salafranca
Feb 11, 2012 Arja Salafranca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rai
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Matthew
Jan 25, 2015 Matthew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 la
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Sandi
Aug 15, 2008 Sandi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories2008
"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 ...more
John
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 centere
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Lily
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 religio ...more
Charlotte
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 f ...more
Joseph Pinchback
Aug 10, 2011 Joseph Pinchback rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 A ...more
Lauren
Mar 22, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 golem
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Daniel
Jan 27, 2010 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
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 th ...more
Heather
Mar 22, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Certain subject matters carry with them a certain taboo and the idea of satirizing the holiest of virtues definitely finds a place on that list. We can all THINK that there are contradictions within religion, or whatever it is we might call our belief system, but it's another thing altogether to actually ADMIT that's what we're thinking. Reading Shalom Auslander is like any guilty pleasure -- you'll be chuckling to yourself, enjoying every moment immensely while looking over your shoulder the en ...more
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Shalom Auslander is an American author and essayist. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Monsey, New York where he describes himself as having been "raised like a veal".[1][2] His writing style is notable for its Jewish perspective and determinedly negative outlook.

Auslander has published a collection of short stories, Beware of God and a memoir, Foreskin's Lament: A Memoir. His work,
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More about Shalom Auslander...

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