20060816

Beware of God

Shalom Auslander - Beware Of God

Betyg: 4

Skrev detta på engelska av nån anledning.

OK, this collection of short stories is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time. Laugh-out-loud-on-the-subway funny. Auslander, apparently, was raised in an orthodox Jewish family and so the stories in this book are definitely coloured by that; imagine a mix of Lenny Bruce and Kurt Vonnegut with a sprinkling of Douglas Adams and you won't be far off.

The stories, like the title suggests, deal a lot with religion. And not in a very reverent way. Auslander skewers a lot of what he seems to see as the more absurd aspects of what human beings will do and claim it God's will; you've got a guy trying to buy supplies for an ark at Home Depot, you've got a married couple where the wife grows sick of her husband's piety and tries to get him to sin more than her, you've got the obvious question of just what the heck you do with a golem once you've animated it and it starts to obey everything you say in great detail, you've got a chimpanzee in a zoo suddenly being infused with judeo-christian guilt and shame...

"Look at us, Bobo thought, shaking his head sadly. A bunch of fucking monkeys. Where is our dignity? Where is our pride? Where are our pants?"


Though at the same time as being hilariously funny, there's a point to much of it. His target isn't belief as such, but more the more negative aspects of organized religion - intolerance, fundamentalism, xenophobia, endless and violent arguing over exactly HOW to love your neighbor. Some obvious influences are Bill Hicks, Kafka and Samuel Beckett; the situations are absurd(ly funny), but the underlying sentiment is very serious. It's hit-and-miss, like all short
story collections, but highly recommended.Funny sidebar: I was reading it on the subway, like I said. Just as I'm reading the story "Somebody up there likes you" (in which God and Lucifer go on a Sopranos-style hitman mission to take out a poor guy who according to the Big Plan was supposed to die weeks ago, but survived because God failed to take into account the improved side protection in his Volvo) a street musician comes on the subway and starts playing the theme from "The Godfather". Now that's creepy. I think I'm going to the hot place.

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