Oh thank God. Ok, maybe Shalom Auslander himself might not approve of the formulation of my excitement for his upcoming novel, but so it goes. Auslander is arguably our generation’s budding author of books that rage against organized religion and God. For a while, perhaps he still does, Auslander sported a silver chain around his neck with the Hebrew word Acher, the name of the most infamous Rabbinic Apikores/heretic. The older generation, justifiably so, takes offense at this childish middle finger in the form of a necklace, but for me, and perhaps for many of my generation, something about his desire, no, his need to infuriate people speaks to us. We might disagree with his methods, but we can associate with his frustration.
Yes, Auslander, perhaps, does leave his family laundry hanging on the line with a little too much pleasure, but who can judge him for his scathing anger when he creates such brutal beauty? Either way, aren’t you just happy to welcome him back to the form of long literature, not just short (still angry) articles, but a novel with the already cynical sounding title: Hope: A Tragedy.
Besides the visceral excitement that comes along with an eagerly awaited novel, looming over Auslander’s work lies the biggest question of where can he go from his previous output? Or, essentially, can this talented writer move past his personal anger, or will he forever stay mired in the rage of his past wounds? Philip Roth moved past Portnoy’s Complaint to write larger, grander novels about less self-involved topics. Hopefully, Auslander, with his arsenal of talents will transcend the so far self-imposed limitation on his writing and move into the wider spectrum of the literary world, whether Jewish in content or not.
Auslander recently helped create trailers for his new book that consist of him asking his freinds if they would hide his family during the Holocaust. Here’s Auslander himself, courtesy of New York Magazine, on the upcoming novel, “Well, the book is about the futility of hope, in a way. And the danger of hope. At a certain point you go, the sun is not coming out anymore. If I could get that way with life in general, I would be much happier, and that is kind of what the book is about.”
From the ways he describes the novel, a book that deals with the repercussions of collective guilt of the Holocaust on the 2nd generation, I don’t know what to think about our previous question. The book’s scope seems wider, but its stated theme of relinquishing hope engenders worry about Auslander’s ability to overcome his personal unhappiness. Despite my qualms, these trailers are both offensive and hilarious, and I’m rooting for him no matter what.