Tag Archives: circumcision

Foreskin Tales

Shalom Auslander

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.

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The Circumcision Decision

The last good memoir I read was Neal Pollack’s Alternadad.

It’s an amusing tale of fatherhood, told from the point of view of a slacker, Gen-X rocker who eventually comes to grips with the responsibilities of fatherhood. Since I know very little about music, I thought the slant toward alternative rock might alienate me. Instead I found plenty I could relate with about parenting. In particular was the family decision on whether to have their son circumcised.

When my son was born, my wife wanted to leave him uncut. Since I am cut, I felt mildly reluctant. I asked my wife for time to think about it. To help make up my mind, I solicited people’s opinions. I even called my mom, who raised us Catholic but then converted to fundamentalist Christian while I was in the Navy.

Talking to Mom decided it for me. This is pretty much how the conversation went:

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