Beware of God

I didn’t resume reading Everything is Illuminated as I had planned.

We had heard two separate stories by Shalom Auslander on “This American Life” on NPR which I liked. I checked on Amazon after hearing the second. His book Beware of God was out in hardback and was due out in paperback on March 28. On my way to work on March 28 I stopped in at the New England Mobile Book Fair. The book wasn’t filed alphabetically in the publisher’s section, but it was on a display at the end of the row.

It’s a small book, with largish print, not much reading matter for the money, but very thought-provoking. I’m not sure who I’d recommend it to. I think you have to be Jewish to understand or appreciate most of it, and somewhat knowledgable about Jewish culture and literature at that. But if you’re Jewish and not pretty skeptical, you’re likely to be offended by a lot of it. Does the name Elisha ben Abuya mean anything to you? The fellow more frequently known as “Acher”, Hebrew for “the other guy” because his former colleagues were so upset by a brilliant student’s rejection of all their teachings that they wouldn’t say his name? This is a book he could have gotten into. For instance (and maybe for the most extreme example), what would happen if someone found an ancient text of the Bible, undoubtedly authentic and older than any other known text, that was identical to other texts except for an additional first paragraph: “This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.”? Hint: You don’t want to be the guy who found it. This is very funny and very serious stuff, and I love it.

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