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Beware of God: Stories

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,127 Ratings  ·  155 Reviews
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 an argument over whether or not his father can beat his unclean son with a copy of the Talmud. A pious man having a near-death experience discovers that God i ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 3rd 2006 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2005)
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Maciek
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Reese
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 25, 2011 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
...more
Arwen56
Sep 06, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Questa raccolta di racconti ha un grandissimo pregio: è breve.
Mark
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
Truly irreverent recovering Orthodox Jew. Did I mention that he's funny as hell? One word: YES.
Elliot Ratzman
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Roberto
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, già-letto
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
...more
Matthew
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Vin
Nov 20, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jun 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saggio, usa, ateismo
Beware of god

Il 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
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These stories are Really Good. Some of them are funny, others devastating, most are a little of both.
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
May 24, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Raya
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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
...more
Qiana
Jul 24, 2008 rated it liked it
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
...more
Michelle Smitherman
Oct 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Arja Salafranca
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Matthew
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Sandi
Jul 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Lily
Jun 08, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mar 03, 2008 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Daniel
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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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,
...more
More about Shalom Auslander...