Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander

Mike’s review

Already had to think twice about getting this at the library. Meter was running low on time, there was lots of bird poop in my stall. Had to be quick. Had I seen “author of ‘Foreskin’s Lament,'” I may have made a different decision (NOS4A2 was in, but I thought Hill’s epic and DFW would be too much for one checkout).

But inside it says he also wrote “Beware Of God: Stories,” so more time would have actually ended up putting this in my hands.

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I’ve done so many short stores that I forgot I was supposed to do plot summaries. Kugel, his wife and son buy a house in the middle of nowhere, New York. Kugel’s mother gets sick/is dying (supposedly) and comes to live with them. They take on a boarder. And then Kugel finds the real actual, Anne Frank in the attic, writing a novel. Kugel’s family is Jewish, so the book mines Judaism, history, story and tragedy’s relation to hope. That was a pretty genuine sounding sentence. Good. Because it’s a very funny and poignant book. Read it.

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There’s little I love more than Pancho Villa’s last words: “Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.” And to then call Jesus’ last words smug and congratulatory? I’m all in by page six.

My last words: It was all a joke, anyways.

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“[Newborn] Jonah was beautiful and innocent and pure, so Kugel felt terrible guilt for bringing him into this world. To father a child was a horribly selfish act, a felony, in fact–everyone here in this world is a kidnap victim from some better place, or from no place at all, and Jonah had been dragged here, by Kugel and [his wife], against his will, without provocation, without consent, without any good goddamned reason whatsoever beyond their own selfish desires.”

There are things before that inform this and make it even better in context.

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If I don’t write “The Diary Of Anne Frankenstein” after reading this dirty-talking Anne Frank, I never will.

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I would think someone as thinky as Kugel would think to read the ingredient list on the bread and see if it has wheat. Also, rather shortsighted to not realize he’ll get diarrhea and have to leave his stakeout.

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It’s called “Hope” and there are no quotation marks to be found in this book. By gimmick for “There’s Hope” is dead on arrival. Oh well. Nothing is new.

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I have this old line: I couldn’t have failed if I’d never tried (meaning, just don’t try). Much of this book deals with the same sentiment/idea here, but with hope taking the brunt of criticism. As in, there’s nothing to lose if you don’t hope. If there’s no hope for the future, you can’t be disappointed.

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