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Foreskin's Lament

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  4,187 Ratings  ·  650 Reviews
Shalom Auslander was raised with a terrified respect for God. Even as he grew up, defying and eventually being cast out of his community, he could not find his way to a life in which he wasn't locked in a daily struggle with Him. "Foreskin's Lament" is a rich and fascinating portrait of a man grappling with his faith, his family and his community.

'Bracing and witty . . . N
Paperback, 310 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Picador USA (first published 2007)
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Nov 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have given this book five stars, but God may have frowned upon that and punished me for it by sicking a virus on my computer. That would be so God.
Jan 16, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-reads
Philip Roth and Augusten Burroughs had a baby. As one might expect, it's in no mood. The only real surprise is that they would name it "Shalom."
Oct 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(from page 71) "I wonder sometimes if he-- and I-- suffer from a metaphysical form of Stockholm syndrome. Held captive by this Man for thousands of years, we now praise Him, defend Him, excuse Him, sometimes kill for Him, an army of Squeaky Frommes swearing allegiance to their Charlie in the sky. My relationship with God has been an endless cycle not of the celebrated 'faith followed by doubt,' but of appeasement followed by revolt; placation followed by indifference; please, please, please, fol ...more
It's challenging to give a rating to this book, so I'll just stick with a nice neutral three. As an Orthodox Jew, it's hard to keep my own feelings out of it, feelings which fell all over the map. So I guess three is a fair rating, since love-hate is probably the best description of my reading experience.

I loved the writing. Some of the lines were laugh-out-loud funny ("Geographically speaking, Israel has only two seasons: Holy Crap It's Hot, and Holy Crap It's Cold."), and I loved a style he us
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved loved LOVED this memoir. Auslander is very, very bitter that he was raised an Orthodox Jew with an abusive father and, in his opinion, an abusive Father as well. He sees God as an asshole who exists just to fuck with people, and he's pretty pissed off about it. And yet he's convinced God exists, so he lives in perpetual fear that God's about to kill his son or wife or otherwise take away something he loves, just to be a dick. And so he's in a constant discussion with God: "Fuck you. But ...more
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*** Spoiler Below (? Maybe)

Shalom Auslander doesn't have a penis with foreskin; I don't have a penis period. An irrelevant difference. Soooooo much material in his memoir makes me say, "Shalom Auslander thinks my thoughts and/or I think his." When Auslander asks a female friend, an Orthodox Jew eager to discuss Reb Zalman and the Rambam, "Have you ever read Samuel Beckett?"(247), I hear my voice. Then when the friend inquires, "What did he write?" I can hear myself in Auslander's response: "[L]i
Sep 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I believe in God. It's been a real problem for me.

Alas, Shalom Auslander's problems with God aren't so easily shrugged off. His problems with God are all-encompassing, paralyzing, potentially life-threatening. They've followed him from birth, through adolescence, and now into adulthood, to the birth of his first child. They've followed him despite his attempts to break free of his Orthodox upbringing. They've followed him despite his attempts to embrace of his Orthodox upbringing. God, it seems,
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Dio è qui,
Dio è lì,
Dio è ovunque
In ogni dì.
Il tema, trasfuso fin dall’asilo nelle menti dei bambini ebraici con una filastrocca che sembra un innocuo giochino, è ossessivamente ripetuto nel corso del libro, dalla prima all’ultima pagina.
Auslander ha un rapporto personalissimo con Dio, presenza opprimente, incazzosa e vendicativa, che condiziona la sua vita in modo devastante.
Nel libro racconta, con un umorismo poco politically correct, tutti i tentativ
May 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This is a fascinating and darkly funny account of one man’s attempts to live under the vengeful God he inherited as a part of his orthodox Jewish upbringing.

Shalom Auslander learned early on that the God who was watching over him was one he describes as “eternally pissed off.” As a child, he developed such fear of this vengeful Old Testament character he still spends much of his time imagining the various ways God might murder his family in punishment for his own numerous sins.

Despite the very
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una volta credevo in Dio. Poi ho scoperto Auslander

E ho capito che il mio dialogo con Dio è assolutamente irrilevante. E anche il vostro lo è, se avete pensato almeno una volta nella vita che il detto “Piove sempre sul bagnato”, sia solo un modo gentile per dire che se Dio è là, e vi ha fatto oggetto di sì tanto accanimento è veramente uno stronzo.

Ma Auslander è molto più preparato. Perché lui con Dio ci parla ogni giorno, e progetta la sua vita a venire in base alle eventuali vendette di un Dio
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Man, I feel like I was waiting for this book forever! Auslander, author of Beware of God and frequent contributor to This American Life (note to my dad: you heard him do one of his pieces--I think the one about how he wasn't allowed to throw away anything with his name on it, b/c Shalom is one of God's names, or maybe it was the one about how he watched over the dead for a part-time job), has written a caustic and funny memoir about growing up religious, and how all his conflicts came to a head ...more
Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went through a lot of indecision in the star givings for this one. On the one hand, a lot of it was disturbing and bothersome, and I had to skip some passages out of sheer disgust. On the other hand, it was funny, well written, thought provoking and a rather interesting examination of frumkeit. So bottom line, once I got in the second half of the book, I was a lot more interested and engaged, and I left with an overall appreciation for the book's strength.
As to Auslander himself, so sometimes
Sep 26, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jews. Non-Jews.
Recommended to Abby by: Ira Glass?
I read this book at my parents' house in December when I was home for the holidays. My parents' house is not a fortress of great Jewry or anything, but Home With Family is certainly a Jewier place to be than, say, Apartment With Roommates (though not necessarily Aboard the 2/3 With Hasids from Brooklyn).

As noted by one of the fine ladies at Jezebel, reading Foreskin's Lament felt much like reading A Million Little Pieces, which is to say... rapturously confessional, a bit too showy. [Author:
Israel Montoya Baquero
Entretenida, cínica y mordaz visión de la comunidad judía americana. En algunos momentos, la afilada pluma de Auslander es capaz de arrancar una buena carcajada, en especial durante sus descacharrantes conversaciones interiores con Dios.
María Paz Greene
Ingenioso, divertido y, aunque suene exagerado, bastante sentí identificada con el autor, cuando habla de este Dios irracional y perseguidor, a quien hay que complacer siguiendo códigos de lo más aleatorios. También me sentí identificada con la desolación que significa crecer así, tras una fe tan rígida y dicotómica. Al final, cuando es así, no queda mucho espacio para el amor... aunque no tenga que ver con Dios necesariamente, sino que con las personas que lo distribuyen de tal o ...more
Jun 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: autobiographies
A witty and infinitely quotable (albeit slightly grim) memoir recounting the author's strict religious upbringing and his ongoing struggle with the spiteful, bloodthirsty God whom he is seemingly unable to rid himself of. Throughout the book Auslander goes round-for-round with He Who Is in an attempt to overcome his religious conditioning, often emerging battered, bruised and only occasionally a little the wiser for his troubles.

The experiences described in this book will definitely resonate wit
Cliff Etters
Apr 03, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who's ever wondered why the Bible doesn't make sense
Even though it took me a couple of weeks to get through this book (I've a bad tendency lately to pick up and put down books, letting them go unread for as much as a week before starting them up again), I found Foreskin's Lament an entertaining read, though a little repetitve.

I definitely identify with the author, being brought up in the church (Southern Baptist/Methodist depending on the year), and wondering at the blatent contradictions and conflicts, yet being told that "God is great! God is
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Shalom Auslander schreibt mit aussergewöhnlich viel Humor über seine Kindheit und Jugend in einem streng jüdisch-orthodoxen Umfeld. Schon als Junge hat er die unzähligen Regeln hinterfragt und gebrochen - er hat gestohlen, masturbiert und heimlich Unkoscheres gegessen. Bis ins Erwachsenenalter verspürt er eine Mischung aus Furcht vor göttlicher Bestrafung, Angst vor den Reaktionen in der Gemeinschaft und Widerwilligkeit gegenüber den jüdischen Traditionen. Oder wie Auslander es ausdrückt: "I bel ...more
May 15, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, humor
I like Shalom Auslander's segments on "This American Life" -- he's always very funny. I was sort of hoping for more of the same lightly self-deprecating humor that he does so well. Turns out it's actually much closer to self-loathing, and it's not particularly funny.

The book's "God sucks, God hates me" refrain also gets old pretty quickly. I'm not particularly religious, so my objection isn't to that at all. It's just because Auslander comes off sounding like a petulant child with no personal gr
Danny Evans
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The highest compliment I can pay to FORESKIN'S LAMENT is this: No book I have ever read has so perfectly captured what my childhood looked like.

Like Auslander, I grew up in a suffocating Jewish environment and ultimately grew to resent the heavy-handedness of it all. Whether you were raised as a Catholic, a Mormon, a Hindu, a Muslim or any other faith, I think Auslander's characterization of the role of relentless religiosity in the mind of a young boy will be accessible to you.

Sergi Viciana
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
Curioso: me he reído mucho, pero en realidad es un libro terrible y su autor está destrozado.
Leuk intermezzo: een Joodse jongen/man valt uit, in, uit zijn geloof/traditie en dat allemaal omdat God zo onbetrouwbaar is. Rare snuiter, die God.
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
On the one hand, I'd sworn off BOATS (Based On A True Story) books a while ago, after a few too many true tales of overcoming hardship/drugs/abuse/athlete's foot had made me want to tell every writer of such books that they deserved every bit of it. Plus, when telling the story of his life Auslander does tend to violate the "Thou Shalt Not Provide TMI" commandment a few too many times.

On the other hand, he has a saving grace (heh) which is his humour - furious yet sharp, bitter yet hopeful. Grow
May 24, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert Cohen
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shalom Auslander, a known commodity in the world of writing, was, until this book, unknown to me. I liked the title (with the obvious cheeky reference to Portnoy's Complaint), and the book was recommended to me by someone. "Someone" is the best I can do, as I don't remember who that someone was. If you recognize yourself in this comment, a resounding thank you goes out to you.

Auslander is a very funny and very angry man. In his bloody battle with God, there is no contest. God doesn't stand a cha
Apr 17, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shalom Auslander tells the story of his life as an Orthodox Jew that breaks free, at least to some extent, of the rigid trappings of that life. He has a perspective on God as described in the Bible that I'm surprised is not more common: That of God as a cruel, petty tormentor, very similar in behavior to an bitter old man.

The difference between Shalom and me is that he grew up in an environment in which his religion was all-pervasive instead of just something that happened on Sundays. It's not v
Reuven Fischer
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: judaica
“I believe in god, It’s been a real Problem for me” -Shalom Auslander

I am certain Shalom Auslander was absent from his Talmud class the day his Rebbe taught over the sugya in Avoda Zora (17a) of Rabbi Elazar ben Dordaya. Actually from most accounts it seems as if Shalom was absent frequently from Yeshiva (or not grasping what was really taught) Either way Baruch Hashem, as we might not have this hilarious account of his pretty twisted view of Life, Orthodox Judaism and Hashem. This is a sad tale
Like probably most people who are reviewing this, my first encounter with Shalom Auslander was on This American Life. But the Auslander of TAL and the Auslander of his memoir are radically different people, even if the radio-Auslander is reading excerpts of the book-Auslander. Radio-Auslander can laugh at his excessively religious youth, and he's got 15 minutes of air time in between Ira Glass talking about the benefits of and Sarah Vowell reading a cloying musing in her cloying ...more
Nura Yusof
The book synopsis made this book to me a rather typical and expected memoir. Dysfunctional family. Abusive, disciplinarian father. Unsupportive mother. Rebellious brother. Strict, stifling upbringing. Juvenile preoccupation with sex. Brush with law because of shoplifting. All in the flavor of religion and God.

Am not familiar with Jewish customs and this book provided insight into their culture. I was surprised at how remarkably similar it is to Muslim practices.

The theme of a vengeful God is to
karen reyes
Feb 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the title of this book, and had to read it. I ended up really enjoying it. Reading it took me only a few days, which I love with my busy lifestyle! In the beginning I felt the author whining too much, but hung in there and glad I did. As you travel through the book you begin to understand the relevance of his complaints and woes in life. I also found that many of the taboos in the orthodox Jewish faith are prevalent in strict Christianity as well. It seems that religion can screw up so m ...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 about Shalom Auslander...
“I believe in a personal God; everything I do, He takes personally.” 1 likes
“L’uomo fa progetti e Dio ride. Che cazzo di stupido aforisma è? Vuol dire che Lui è uno stronzo? Che fine ha fatto L’uomo fa progetti e Dio fa del Suo meglio perché questi progetti si realizzino? In quale religione c’è un’espressione del genere?” 0 likes
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