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July 24, 2006 10:56 PM   Subscribe

"Excuse me," Schwartzman said to the Home Depot man, "can you tell me where to find tar?" "Tar?" asked the Home Depot man. "What're you using tar for?" "I'm building an ark," said Schwartzman. If there was anything that two years of completing God's preposterous homework assignments had taught Schwartzman it was that there was absolutely nothing you could tell Home Depot Man you were building that would surprise him, that would get any reaction from him at all, for that matter, aside from the usual skepticism about your choice of building materials.
Shalom Auslander recasts Jewish history in short story form. Start with the aforementioned "Prophet's Dilemma," and work your way backwards to "Plagued." [more inside]
posted by anjamu (19 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
For one of his fictional takes on Judaism today, read "The War of the Bernsteins."

Auslander writes more extensively about himself, literature and Judaism (in nonfiction form) in a column for Nextbook. He also has published several pieces on Nerve.

On NPR's This American Life, he reads his true story, "The Blessing Bee," and discusses how he broke with his Orthodox faith at a Rangers game.

As an aside, Wikipedia offers a fairly exhaustive, joke-by-joke history of the self-deprecating tradition of Jewish humor, into which some say Auslander's work fits.

And credit is, of course, due to Bookslut, without which I might never have discovered Auslander's work. Enjoy!
posted by anjamu at 10:56 PM on July 24, 2006


Shalom is also the former (and much missed) writer of Esquire magazine's monthly Dubious Achievement Awards (several years back, when they were actually funny). It's good to know that he's still out there somewhere.
posted by Optamystic at 2:01 AM on July 25, 2006


"I shall bring floodwaters on the earth," shouted God loudly as Schwartzman was trying to line up a putt on the ninth green, "and destroy all that is under heaven! Flinch! Fliiiinch!"
That's not right. That's not even wrong. But that is funny.
posted by eriko at 4:30 AM on July 25, 2006


[This is excellent]

Thanks!
posted by slimepuppy at 5:43 AM on July 25, 2006


anjamu, this is so great! thanks for posting. i love it.

[now off to explore this bookslut of which you speak...]
posted by rough at 6:04 AM on July 25, 2006


This reminds me of Douglas Adams. [totally awesome!]
posted by phrontist at 6:04 AM on July 25, 2006


Wonderful stuff. I was expecting to go "Eh," but the guy is really funny. This is a great exchange:

"Are you afraid he might become violent?"

"If history's any indication."

posted by languagehat at 7:03 AM on July 25, 2006


Good good good.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:10 AM on July 25, 2006


I have the power of prophecy and predict that when all is said and done this will prove to be the highlight of my day.
posted by milarepa at 7:22 AM on July 25, 2006


I actually laughing out loud at this. The temptation to write 'LOL' here is strong within me.

D'oh!
posted by jacquilynne at 7:26 AM on July 25, 2006


Thank you!
posted by blahblahblah at 7:33 AM on July 25, 2006


Good.
posted by chunking express at 7:45 AM on July 25, 2006


Fantastic. Just brilliant. Of the three linked stories, be sure to read more than just Prophet's Dilemma.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:51 AM on July 25, 2006


For completeness, he's also read one more story on This American Life called "Giving Up The Ghosts." It's about his part time job watching over Jewish corpses at the morgue. I like the spelling bee story linked earlier more, but this one is still pretty excellent. And be warned, the first story in that show is heart-breakingly sad.
posted by heresiarch at 8:08 AM on July 25, 2006


"Right. Who is this, really?"
posted by keswick at 8:15 AM on July 25, 2006


"Behold!" shouted God. "And you shall go forth from this place to the Home Depot on Route 17, or the Lord Your God shall smite you with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with . . ."
Oh, this is *really* good. Great post.
posted by mrbill at 10:35 AM on July 25, 2006


keswick writes "Right. Who is this, really?"

Bill Cosby is a mad genius.
posted by Mitheral at 10:49 AM on July 25, 2006


Bill Cosby is a mad genius.

You're telling me!
posted by keswick at 11:01 AM on July 25, 2006


It reminds me a little of Avram Davidson's humorous side.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:54 PM on July 25, 2006


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