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“The first thing that got me interested in this book were the very amusing "book trailers" I saw on the internet last month, featuring the author calling two other well known authors (Sarah Vowell and John Hodgman)in which Mr. Auslander calls his two author friend separately and asks them that if he needs to hide in their attics, would that be possible, and would he and his small family would be welcome? A main theme in this novel is hiding in the attic. The father figure of the family in the book, Solomon Kugel, discovers a certain well know and young victim of the Holocaust is alive and, while not exactly well, is hiding in the attic of the upstate NY house he and his wife have just purchased and moved into, causing all sorts of problems, mainly for him.
I know this sounds like a very unlikely plot, but believe me, Shalom Auslander makes it work. Is it irreverent? Well, kind of, but not really. Somehow, Auslander makes you believe him, and makes you understand this unlikely survivor's many reasons for hiding after all these years. And I laughed quite a bit in certain spots, because Auslander is very funny. Although, you kind of know this guy is doomed. Because that's the other theme of this novel. Hope is a useless lost cause. there is no need for it, because you are going to be met with constant disappointment at all turns. Or so believes the therapist that Sol has been seeing for a while.
This book called to mind a more than a few Woody Allen characters. Guilt ridden, trying to get through life, expecting the worst, and so often facing the worst, Solomon Kugel tries to endure, to overcome the worst, but is constantly met with unfailingly tough opposition, usually in the form of his family (his mother, who maintains she is a Holocaust survivor, although she clearly isn't, his wife a frustrated writer who worries constantly over money, his sister in law and husband, who cannot have children, but try loudly to conceive every time they spend the night, etc.). The book is dark, yes, but also, it is funny.
Shalom Auslander is a very informal writer, he is loose and unstructured, and the style here seems to mimic the life the main character has been living. When an unforeseen change interrupts that usually predictable but relaxed life, the tension becomes thick. Great book, I really enjoyed it.”
Kiki68 wrote this review Friday, February 3, 2012.