February 27, 2010
Karr's newfound spirituality is quaint compared to Auslander's childhood Orthodoxy. He is probably about my age - a child of the 70s and 80s - who grew up in the repressive world of East Coast Orthodox Judaism. He sees the modern world around him, even visits it with his mom in weekly trips to the mall (where he wants to live), but his routine is strictly Eighteenth Century. He dons the knitted yarmulke, tallis, dark suits and ties. He sits hours on end repeating Hebrew prayers in shul. He waits bored at the dining room table waiting for Shabbos to end. But, because he is a child of the modern world, he is tempted by modern seductions: porn magazines (found hidden in the woods behind his house), beef jerky, hair styling mousse. Like any good Jew, modern or ancient, Auslander succumbs to each temptation with the nagging anxiety that God will smite him. In order to win favor with God, 10 year-old Auslander finds every smutty magazine his hypocritical family hides under mattresses and washing machines, even unearthing his devout mother's box of sex aides from between the mattresses of her bed, and . . . sets all of them ablaze. And so I found it wildly amusing that I finished reading this Philip Rothian passage on my way to taste "Nipple Nibblers" and compare vibrator frequencies.