Books I have read on how-to-write memoir occasionally suggest boiling down into the fewest words what your memoir is about. From Shalom Auslander’s new memoir, Foreskin’s Lament, here are a few words that do just that:
I believe in God.
It’s been a real problem for me.
I have very little sympathy for veal.
I find Mr. Auslander inventive, irreverent, and incredibly funny to read. Most of his stories center on his experience growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family in upstate New York. But his memoir is also an exploration of fatherhood: ambivalent memories of his father, feelings about his own role as a parent, but mostly he offers stories that feature the antagonistic relationship he has with his Heavenly Father. This is how to write memoir.
Earlier this year I read another memoir about fatherhood by Neal Pollack. For some reason, Jewish fathers who write memoir seem to fixate on the circumcision of their son’s penis. Everyone has a story. Even me!
So what’s a nice Catholic boy like me doing with a circumcision story? No idea. Maybe I was adopted.