The L Mag Questionnaire for Writer Types: Shalom Auslander

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01/17/2012 10:06 AM |


Hope: A Tragedy, the first novel by Shalom Auslander, previously author of the essay collection Foreskin’s Lament and the story collection Beware of God, is in stores now; he reads tomorrow night at Barnes & Noble Upper West Side, and on February 2nd at McNally Jackson.

For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
One paper referred to me in a postive review as a prophet and in a negative review, just a week later, as an apostate. I have to admit I kind of like that.

What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
Nothing. They’re fucked. To be honest, this is the worst part of the whole writing gig, having to come up with answers to ludicrous interview questions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered, tremendously so, but that doesn’t mean I can’t look at it all and wonder if I shouldn’t blow my head off.

Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
Even if the questions aren’t ludicrous, they’re repetitive—and that’s nobody’s fault, really. There are just so many questions you can ask about a fucking book, and just so many answers I can give. We’re all trapped in this miserable but necessary cycle of writing/promoting/selling/writing, and there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s just impossible, victims one and all of our best intentions.

Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
The sad thing, of course, is that I have no choice. The publisher agrees to print my words (which I delude myself into thinking will provide some sort of immortality) and in exchange, I agree to promote it, to make back their money and then some. Should I just say no? Should I just refuse? Others do, sure, but it’s a lie—it isn’t the publisher at fault here, we’re both complicit in this crime of ego and self-aggrandisement.

What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
And do you know what? Do you know how pathetic I am? I’m going to send this in, and then worry about my answers, and then wonder when it comes out, and wonder then how it will be received. Will anyone read it? What will the commenters think? How many Tweets did it get? There’s no end and no answer. I’ll decide, no matter what, that it’s been an abortion from the beginning, try to find some release in violent pornography, and then see if anyone wants to suffer through a few drinks with me at the local bar.

Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
Oh, fuck off.

3 Comment

  • I read the book and I thought it was terrible. But reading this interview just makes me feel sorry for this guy. He reminds me of my brother so much. Angry as anything about his past and religious upbringing. Mostly impossible to be around. Constantly talking about our past through some horrible lens that obscured anything good. Shut himself off from his parents in a rage that lasted through their death. It took him a painful 55 years to get his head screwed on anything close to straight. He died three years later finally at peace with his past and life. Auslander is basically the same as my brother except that he writes. He’s found a community of fans that is essentially treating him like a freak show for entertainment. “Look at the angry ex-Yeshiva boy. Look at him rant.” They’ll use him until they get bored and go onto another poor angry soul. I hope that this guy can kiss these leeches good bye (they aren’t doing him any good) and one day finds peace.

  • Zolz, it’s a joke. He’s being ironic.

  • So am I, Bob. Except for the freak show part. That’s his act. Rant to attract a crowd. It’ll work for a couple more years, this woe-is-me, ex-Yeshiva boy gone shaved shtick. Then the public will go on to something new with a different rant. It’s all entertainment, all the time.