Book Report: Beware of Gd
15 May 2007, 5:44 PM
I had heard good things about Beware of Gd, the book of short stories by Shalom Auslander, and picked the book up at my local library. Not the local public library, but the library at Temple Beth Bolshoi.
Now, I think it’s cool that my synagogue has a library, and I think it’s cool that my synagogue’s library has such blasphemous and outrageous stuff in it. I mean, Mr. Auslander has the Divine answering the question of predestination in the case of a man who was destined to die in a car accident but somehow lives beyond his time by running the guy down in a car. You can’t hide from the Lord. Unless the Lord is a chicken, which is where different story goes. Mmmmm, chicken. Does your place of worship have any books where the angel Gabriel scatters feed for the Master of the Universe? No, it doesn’t. I checked.
That said, Mr. Auslander gets a lot of mileage from mocking observant Jews, and you know what? So does our Senior Rabbi. And it gets up my nose when Rabbi does it, and it gets up my nose when Mr. Auslander does it. Yes, they don’t eat cheeseburgers. Ha, ha. Look, a story that begins “As Motty awoke one morning from impure dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a very large goy” is going to go downhill from there, sure, but does it have to be entirely about how obnoxious, arrogant and exclusionary the orthodox are? We get it, we get it.
There are certainly some funny bits in here, and there are some lovely formal achievements, but the provocation never rises beyond blasphemy to really challenge my thinking. On the whole, I preferred Dogma.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,