Download eBook Hope: A TragedyAuthor Shalom Auslander – Papercuts.co

Solomon Kugel Wishes For Nothing Than To Be Nowhere, To Be In A Place With No Past, No History, No Wars, No Genocides The Rural Town Of Stockton, New York, Is Famous For Nothing No One Was Born There, No One Died There, Nothing Of Any Import Has Ever Happened, Which Is Exactly Why Kugel Decided To Move His Family There To Begin Again To Start AnewBut It Isn T Quite Working Out That Way His Ailing Mother Stubbornly Holds On To Life, And Won T Stop Reminiscing About The Nazi Concentration Camps She Never Actually Suffered Through To Complicate Matters Further, Some Lunatic Is Burning Down Farmhouses Just Like The One He Bought, And He Fears His Is Next And When, One Night, Kugel Discovers History A Living, Breathing, Thought To Be Dead Specimen Of History Hiding In His Attic, Bad Very Quickly Becomes WorseLike Nothing You Ve Read Before, The Critically Acclaimed Shalom Auslander S Debut Novel Is A Hilarious And Disquieting Examination Of The Burdens And Abuse Of History, Propelled With Unstoppable Rhythm And Filled With Existential Musings And Mordant Wit


10 thoughts on “Hope: A Tragedy

  1. says:

    Update a good friend of mind just read this and reminded me how much I enjoyed this comic tragic GEM I still own my book You can t have my copy It makes me laugh too much But I ve give this book to others many times I bought stacks when it went on sale years ago at Barnes and Noble I really don t understand why some readers were offended or didn t care for itI know some Jewish people from my temple who felt it was in bad taste Maybe I absolutely loved it.., so sue me AND. I believe many readers will like this book It s for when you re in the mood for a good comic tragic book Hilarious writing burst out laughing over and over again Andthen again You won t NOT be able to share the hot lines with your close family and friends Twisted some of the lines are you ll want to remember Note this is taken out of context won t make much sense without reading ..but I died laughing at His stomach was anti semitic Dozen of other funny quotes or why did childrfen always draw the sun smiling Its a giant ball of fire, kids Its rage and fury Whatever its doing, it isn t f ing smiling Hope, A tragedy is a contemporary comedic Jewish tragedy a book of this type does not get much better.This young author has just met his match with Jonathan Tropper and Philip Roth if you don t believe me blow me Sorry, couldn t help myself ha ha The blow me just sounds like something the character Soloman Kugel might say Soloman Kugel is one heck of a funny protagonist add the supporting characters his mother, his wife, the old bag in the attic, etc and this is one book filled with characters and great funny writing you don t want to miss NOTE My good friend started reading this along with me he ordered the audio I got excited and wanted to hear his the audio voice However, maybe because I had already read a decent amount of the book, in my imagination I heard a different and older voice than what was on the audio Then I soon come to learn that the author is just a KID, a talented young man under the age of 35 , WOW but in my head I was hearing a different type of voice for Solomon Jewish Grummy sounding guyand older The audio voice the author I suppose was of a calm man as in just reading a story I didn t feel the flavor of his writing as much as I did from the reading of the book itself I ll have to ask my friend I suppose he s almost done with the book now if the voice audio added or took away from the story for him This book was a surprise gem..Twisted humor at its best


  2. says:

    The title of Hope A Tragedy alludes to the philosophy of a radically cynical character in the novel named Professor Jove In lieu of malice and misfortune, Jove blames human misery simply on hope despite continual evidence to the contrary, humans still foolishly hope for the best and believe a good, reasonably happy life is somehow attainable In this theory of hope, Hitler becomes an optimist Although his methods strike us as cruel and yes certainly draconian, he believed a better life was in fact possible i.e., by the elimination of the Jews and other undesirables and a subordination of inferior cultures to the German way Hope begets disappointment recurring disappointment begets misery Had Hitler survived, we wouldn t expect him to be happy At least, not without meds.The inside jacket plot description of Shalom Auslander s Hope A Tragedy is somewhat misleading It seems to suggest that the main thread of the novel is about a maniacal arsonist who terrorizes the town of Stockton, New York, and its environs by setting farmhouses ablaze But no The central plot is about Solomon Kugel, an exurban who moves his family to this bucolic setting only to discover that the aged, decrepit, cantankerous Anne Frank is living in the attic of his new home defecating in his forced air registers and writing a smutty novel This is not a spoiler The revelation occurs on page 25 In other words, the novel is a tragical farce Now, some people aren t able to deal with farce and I understand that in so far as it traffics in the most implausible and outlandish plot points imaginable Anne Frank in the attic is really only the tip of the iceberg Many contemporary readers are willing to suspend disbelief, but only to a point Once that line is crossed, they shut down and begin an adversarial relationship with the book If this is you, avoid this book Please I don t want to read your whiny, idiotic review about how completely unrealistic this book is It s a farce Farce is not Stephen Crane Shalom Auslander is obviously a funny, highly irreverent read wonderfully offensive , and witty writer, but it s not all just for laughs There are some hard truths about life, death, and the burden of history here The second chapter, for example, is a profound monument, scaffolded in humor, to the death neurosis Maybe part of my appreciation of the novel is my strong identification with its fixations Should I be worried Kugel asked.You should only worry, said Sergeant Frankel, about the things you can control.If I could control them, said Kugel, they wouldn t worry me.Exactly, said Sergeant Frankel.Exactly, said I People who don t worry about death disturb me There s something defective about them There I ve said it I ve judged There is something wrong with those who cling to its inevitability as a reason not to worry about it No, that s precisely the reason to worry about it, idiots Anyway, Kugel is an extreme exaggeration of many of my thoughts and feelings Distorted though they may be, I recognize them easily here And yes, I laugh at them What else can you do I mean, when you re not hyperventilating into a paper bag.


  3. says:

    My top novel of 2012 In Auslander s absurdist battle between optimism and pessimism, momentous tragedy and mundaneness, nothing is sacred not the presidentially mandated virtue of hope certainly not those Jewish heroes Anne Frank and Alan Dershowitz not even the aesthetic guidelines for metaphorical language the sun was in the sky like a something The breeze blew like a whatever.This debut novel is ferociously funny It takes the sarcasm and blasphemy of Auslander s memoir Foreskin s Lament to a whole new level of mordant wit There is something to make the reader laugh out loud on every page, from the audacity and ridiculousness of some of his plot construction, down to the twisted allusions to Genesis or Poe s The Raven It was evening, it was morning, it sucked A tapping As if some mouse were gently crapping, crapping on his attic floor The plot is simple enough, based on two facts the small suburban town of Stockton, New York is experiencing a spate of arson attacks and Anne Frank is alive and dwelling in Solomon Kugel s attic, where she is frantically tapping out her endless magnum opus, a novel Kugel is a deliciously clich d Jewish sad schmuck, exasperated with his Holocaust obsessed mother who just won t die, falling behind in his job as a compost system salesman, and trying to provide some semblance of a sane household for his longsuffering wife and three year old son.Kugel s psychiatric help is provided by ber pessimist Professor Jove the voice of the Almighty himself , who blames all the world s problems on an excess of hope hope that life will improve, that humans can do anything to alter their fate The voice of Jove is contradicted by Kugel s brother in law, Pinkus Stephenor here Auslander makes no attempt to mask his caricature of Harvard professor Steven Pinker, whose latest theory is that humanity has naturally evolved to become better, i.e less violent than in the bad old days when wars lasted a hundred years Auslander s lampoonery might be a bit too facile, but it is wickedly funny.This was my most memorable book of the year almost every individual scene has stayed in my mind Coming back to it months later, I still remember all the outrageous things that made me laugh, or made me shake my head in confusion Hope A Tragedy is an iconoclastic marvel, as hilarious as it is horrific, and a damn good read to boot Recommended reading as a pair with the short stories in What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander Also enjoyably apposite is the following apparently real life dialogue Customer Hi, I just wanted to ask did Anne Frank ever write a sequel Bookseller Customer I really enjoyed her first book.Bookseller Her diary Customer Yes, the diary.Bookseller Her diary wasn t fictional.Customer Really Bookseller YesShe really dies at the end that s why the diary finishes She was taken to a concentration camp.Customer Ohthat s terrible.Bookseller Yes, it was awful Customer I mean, it s such a shame, you know She was such a good writer From Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell


  4. says:

    This book did not work for me.It should have It is a satire, reportedly funny I love satire But I didn t think it was funny At all I did not laugh once.Its thesis statement is dethroning of heroes and reevaluation of historical events I love those topics I hated the way it was handled in this book, though.What went wrong I have tried to put my finger on it, and the only thing I can come up with is that the humour was slapstick, immature vulgarity, which I despise Instead of making me smile, it made me cringe at the effect seeking bluntness and lack of finesse I don t mind strong or simplistic language per se, if it makes sense, but a whole novel with a long line of basic dialogues, spiced up with godammits and fucks, isn t exactly what I want to waste my time on.As for the dethroning of heroes It was the wrong person To me, Anne Frank never was a hero, just a human, childlike voice in the darkest hour of history There is no need to dethrone her, because she never aspired to be put on a throne Her diary, consisting of reflections and thoughts on a much mature level than this so called satire, has a place in my heart that I do not want to see trashed If the post war hero cult is to be made fun of, I would rather see the people who put her on a piedestal ridiculed than her She was an innocent victim of the Holocaust Period.There is a tendency in contemporary literature to make fun of everything, to buy an audience with cheap jokes I am not thrilled Maybe there is something wrong with my sense of humour.Not recommended.


  5. says:

    This book annoyed me to death I hated the characters I gave the book one star, and the reason I did so was that I don t have a lot of patience for characters like Kugel and his mother He was too Woody Allen like for me I hate Woody Allen movies for the same reason stop being so introspective and neurotic and start acting like a grownup That s what I want to scream at the characters Also, the entire premise that he couldn t kick Anne Frank out because it would look bad on him was ridiculous to me Why didn t he just bring her to the Jewish organization that he called to check on her Why did he see it as kicking her out rather than placing her in a comfortable environment where she wouldn t have to poop down the heating vents That was just ridiculous to me Also ridiculous was his indulgence of his mother I didn t find that funny, which I know I was supposed to, I just found it outrageously annoying Putting the vegetables out in the garden for her to find, and letting her poop in the heating vents, and letting her insult the tenant Not funny to me I don t find that movie What About Bob funny either, and I felt like this was similar one character s neuroses and annoying habits are destroying another character s life I just don t find that funny at all So, that s why I gave it one star The whole Holocaust thing, I can understand why Kugel was sick of it,after his mother pretending to be a victim of it and bringing it up constantly over the years, and I thought the author wasn t disrespectful of the Holocaust, I thought the mother was by pretending to be part of it But that didn t annoy me nearly as much as her unreasonableness.


  6. says:

    Whether or not you ll like Auslander s debut novel depends on how much you cling to the totemic narratives of history If you re not afraid to wrestle down those figures and interrogate the validity of their martyr status, then you ll relish this supremely dark and twisty comedy of faith and modern life If you bristle at reconsidering why you worship the surviving narratives of history s darkest time, then you won t like it at all Ultimately it s a novel that will speak to the most revisionist of us, but provoke plenty of conversation either way I wanted to hate it, but ultimately realized that it left me haunted with questions for days after finishing it So I only urge you to read it if you ll come and tell me what you thought afterwardsRead my full review of this book at The Millions


  7. says:

    I ve been called a Pollyannna Seriously I know, right Funny Granted, Pollyanna is from Vermont and she does tend to look at the bright side of life and I do agree with the statement Just breathing isn t living but, I draw the line at believing in stupid glad games And this song is really irritating and doesn t at all describe me I much prefer this version and it s not like I ALWAYS find the good in things I mean, there is absolutely nothing good about that song I ve got the moves like Mick Jagger or baby seal clubbing but, I digress of course Anyway, I can still enjoy a good neurosis, I am catholic after all I can look at a character like Solomon Kugel and totally get where his head is at He s F U C K E D U P and I think I might just want to hug him He reminds me of a certain goodreader that I have hugged much to his chagrin Kugel loved life and so he expected far too much of it hell bent on life, he was terrified that someone would cause, by violence or accident, his untimely death Kugel, in his own defense, pointed out that he didn t think anyone was actually trying to kill him, he simply thought it well within the realm of possibility that somebody, unbeknownst to him, and for reasons yet to be revealed, might be there is a line, he argued, thin as it may be, between paranoia and pragmatism See HUG Kugel thought specifically about the experience of dying He thought about the pain, about the fear Most of all, he thought about what he would say at the final moment his ultima verba his last words They should be wise, he decided, which is not to say morose or obtuse simply that they should mean something, amount to something They should reveal, illuminate He didn t want to be caught by surprise, speechless, gasping, not knowing at the very last moment what to say.No, wait, I oof I haven t really given it much splat If I could just ka blammo We are all mankind a story, collectively and individually, and Kugel didn t want his individual story to end in an ellipsis A period, sure, if you re lucky An exclamation mark, okay A question mark, probably that seemed the punctuation all stories, collectively and individually, should end with after all Not an ellipsis, though.Anything but an ellipsis.Here, I disagree I am a huge fan of ellipses I would love it if I ended in one That would be mysterious, that would give someone, if they wanted to, a chance to continue the story Ellipses are infinity they are beautiful AnywayKugel was raised on the Holocaust It was his mother s go to it gave her a reason to go on she found that if she just muttered Ever since the war and then those sons of bitches that a whole new world would open up People were nicer, commiserated, stopped bothering her It didn t matter that she was born in 1945 and grew up in Brooklyn, happy, healthy, etc She was a victim She passed this on to her children One evening, when Kugel was eight years old, Mother came to his bedroom, brushed the hair from his brow, and told him that it was time he learned about a terrible place known as Buchenwald She had a large book with her called The Holocaust, and she showed him the photographs inside mass graves, starved prisoners, piles of naked corpses That s your uncle, she would say That s your grandfather s sister That s your cousin s father What s that Kugel asked, pointing to the lamp shade she had placed beside him on the bed That, she said with a sigh That s your grandfather Then she buried her face in her hands and wept Okay so you can see the foundation, right Guilt ridden Jew raised by crazy mom It s Woody Allen you say Yes, I would agree. but, I actually like Kugel So, imagine Kugel, and his pragmatism, buying an old farmhouse and trying to raise his son in a non hostile, non Holocaust, environment Seems the right thing to do Except he encounters a slight um. glitch He finds an elderly woman she was hideous, horribly disfigured, and terribly old yellowed with age, the left eye clouded with cataracts, dead, unseeing Her skin, sallow and gray, was thin, almost transparent the hair on her head, what there was of it, was sparse in some places, bare in others Her shoulders hunched up around her ears, and a massive hump on her back forced her skull forward so that she faced the ground, head bowed, even when looking straight ahead Kugel. meet Anne Frank Okay, so the story goes and I won t tell you you should read it It would make me happy if you read it but don t get all defiant and uppity and crap Just read and enjoy Have a laugh, and a cry eat a piece of Ezekial bread call your mom Just breathing isn t living


  8. says:

    Outrageously funny, so wildly original you forgive a certain amount of repetitiveness, a rude offspring of Philip Roth and Franz Kafka The sort of book where you constantly want to put it down and call everyone you know to read them the passages you just read.Solomon Kugel is a neurotic obsessed with death who recently moved with his family to a farmhouse in upstate New York One night he hears noise coming from the attic, goes up to investigate, and discovers Anne Frank living up there But not just any Anne Frank, but a cranky, old, foul mouthed one who is trying to write a book but laboring under the weight of her previous book which, as she constantly reminds us, sold 32 million copies.Meanwhile, downstairs Kugel s Mother is obsessed with the Holocaust, constantly invents stories about being a survivor, along with bizarre claims like see this lamp it s your uncle, but the sticker on it says Made in Taiwan Well they wouldn t put Made in Auschwitz on it would they This then gets repeated with a bar of ivory soap.The book explores optimism vs pessimism, the former being personified in Kugel s brother in law Pinckus, who appears to be a stand in for Stephen Pinker and the later in Kugel and his hilarious psychiatrist Professor Jove.I don t want to spoil any , you should just read it.


  9. says:

    Whatever you want to say about Auslander as a Jew, he is a talented writer As a novelist, though, he leaves a lot to be desired.Assuming you can tolerate Holocaust irreverence, the concept behind this book was actually clever A Woody Allen esque neurotic Jew Solomon Kugel moves his wife, child, and mother to a farmhouse in the country only to discover a decrepit Anne Frank living in his attic There s a lot here The age old literary trope of discovering a crazy lady living in your attic and the symbolism there The idea that, for many American Jews, the crazy lady in the attic is the ghost of the Holocaust that s so difficult to shake no matter how comfortable we may get in America The irony of juxtaposing Kugel s mother, a very much alive woman with an illusory though intense claim on Holocaust experiences, with Anne Frank, a supposedly dead woman with genuine Holocaust associations And what that means in terms of whether the Holocaust is alive or dead, and the people trying to claim the Holocaust for themselves for their own ends.I ve said a lot, but you may notice that I haven t mentioned plot Or characters You know, the things most of us read novels for That s because there wasn t much of either in this novel We get a lot of Solomon Kugel s neurotic and nihilistic inner life, ruminating on the concept of hope as something that brings us down Kugel s wife, Bree, is understandably frustrated with Kugel and his histrionic mother Anne Frank is foul mouthed and demanding So much for characters I can t even say anything about plot, because the situation was the plot Kugel feels he has to keep Anne Frank s existence a secret from his family members why This was never quite clear to me while he struggles with the dilemma of what to do about her presence Kugel fears an arsonist burning down farmhouses in the neighborhood That about sums it up.It was a fast read but not fast enough, actually, as I found myself skimming the last half of the book So it s possible I missed something But I would say, unless you re morbidly curious about what outrageous thing Auslander may have written in which case you ll probably be disappointed , don t waste your time on this one.


  10. says:

    A recent Facebook post of mine had read I can t wait until they release a 3D IMAX version of Schindler s List Someone with whom I have a tenuous Facebook relationship declared that I was in poor taste I can t help but think how he would have felt about Auslander s novel Personally, I found this novel saturated with biting sarcasm, scathing bitterness, and caustic cynicismand I loved every word There is no question that Auslander can write He s quick and vivid, but that s not why this novel should be praised There is a brutal honesty to his story that I would imagine many have already responded with a disgusted how could he exploit the Jewish plight like that Well, for a number of reasons.To begin with, this novel isn t just about the Holocaust Certainly that is one of the many layers to Auslander s story, but I think the overarching theme is shit hanging over our heads and how to deal with it For those who walked away disgusted would, I would argue, take the place of Kugel s mother It s always about the Holocaust, according to her, and she ll be damned if anyone argues differently But, as Kugel so aptly diagnoses his mother in the novel, people love to revel in their misery Relax It s not always about you And when it s not, we need to find a way to make it so This lamp is your grandmother I have to say, I loved the mother s bitterness towards her relatively peaceful youth which mutates into this jealousy at having not suffered the Holocaust.Relax It s not always about the Holocaust.I think the brilliance of this novel is that it stands as a big middle finger who have, in the wake of the shit hitting the fan over the past decade, become ultra sensitive to the point of becoming obnoxious twits Don t run that Mad Men ad, it reminds us too much of 9 11 Don t write about fires in books with Jews It reminds us of the Holocaust Don t this Don t that It s shit hanging over my head Deal with it, says Auslander Destroy it if you have to Stop hoping that people will don t this and don t that As dark and scathing as it is, Auslander shows us that hope really is tragic Hope is just quainter way of saying I d really like this to happen, but it s easier to gripe about it and playing the victim is far too entertaining Plus, wtf would I do if this utopia actually came to fruition Hope, he shows us, segues into paranoia Kugel spends the bulk of his time painfully preoccupied with the what if s which turn into the i hope that sound isn t this, or i hope that smell isn t that Ultimately, it s the hope that i don t have to deal with the shit hanging over my head Maybe I completely misread this novel I suspect Auslander would hope I didn t read it expecting to find any specific moral or theme I hope you do the same.