Discover more from Shalom Auslander's Fetal Position
Welcome to The Fetal Position
Life, said Tom Hanks when Robert Zemeckis told him to, is like a box of chocolates: excited to receive such a treasure, you tear it open, lift a delicate morsel out and close your as its sweetness fills your being, whereupon you quickly discover that you're allergic to nuts, your throat swells shut and you die of anaphylactic shock.
So what are we going to do, folks? Lie on the floor, curled up in the fetal position and cry about it?
No. We're going to lie on the floor, curled up in the fetal position and laugh about it.
Hello. My name is Shalom Auslander. I am a writer of novels, memoirs, essays, plays and the occasional TV series. My work has drawn comparisons to Franz Kafka, Lenny Bruce and David Sedaris. And Woody Allen, because I'm Jewish, funny and fucked my daughter. In Beware of God, I wrote about a chimp in the Bronx Zoo who gains full human awareness and understandably considers suicide. In Hope: A Tragedy I wrote about a man who finds an elderly Anne Frank in his attic in upstate New York. In my memoir Foreskin's Lament, I wrote about my toxic, dysfunctional relationship with God. In Mother for Dinner, a family of Brooklyn-based cannibals are tasked with eating the corpse of their overbearing, narcissistic mother. My Showtime TV series, Happyish, was about a man searching for happiness while selling happiness for Madison Avenue. He fails. I have been a regular contributor to This American Life, and my books have been published to generous critical acclaim around the world. That seems unlikely, given the above summarization of them, but there you have it. Evidently, some people like this sort of thing.
Q: So Why Start a Substack?
Money. Below is a photo of my family.
Beautiful, aren't they? Picture them having birthday parties. Picture them learning to ride bicycles. Picture them tucked safely in their beds. Now picture them starving to death.
(NOTE: Not really me, or my family)
Though I have been fortunate over the years to have met and worked with some very brave editors and publications, certain trends -- outrage, activism, Twitter, cancel culture, right-wing nutjobs and left-wing nutjobs -- have made finding a home for some of the things I write a challenge. It was Etgar Keret who recommended Substack to me as a place where he could always be sure he could publish his work for the readers who like him (and to hell with those who don't).
Thus, this. The Fetal Position. It really is the only reasonable position (see certain trends above). Twice a week I'll post essays, thoughts, novels-in-progress, half-baked ideas I'll pretend have some merit, and musing on my personal obsessions of death, God, sex, sin, family, disease, self-loathing, guilt, shame, Kafka, Beckett, writing and literature, all with that patented Auslander Dark Humor you've heard so much about. From me. Substack calls these "newsletters," but I'm imagining The Fetal Position as more of a tapping on the wall of your cell in the asylum, letting you know you're not alone. That way, I'll know I'm not alone either. As the great Matthew Groening wrote in his introduction to The Big Book of Hell, "I like to think of this as a self-help book, the self being helped being me."
Q: But I've been hearing that laughter is a tool of the oppressor.
That's because you hang out with assholes. You can either kill them, kill yourself, or find new friends. "Just to spite the world, don’t cry!" wrote Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem, "just to spite the world, only laugh, only laugh!" If you disagree with that, we're probably not going to get along.
Q: How Does This Work?
I will post twice a week, sometimes more. Some posts will be long. Some will be short. Some posts will be free, some will be for paid subscribers only. Like God said of Man, "It's a work-in-progress."
Q: So How Much Is This Going To Cost Me?
$5 a month, $40 for the year. On Amazon you can buy a dozen hand towels for $5, which I admit is a pretty sweet deal. Microfiber, too. Frankly, I'd go with the hand towels. But if you have $5 after that, you might want to try The Fetal Position. Paid subscribers will have access to everything, including the ability to email me, comment, installments of To Whom It May Concern, a novel I'll be working on right here on FP, as well as early release and signed copies of my forthcoming memoir Feh, and whatever else I can think of. I'm so sure you will like it, that if you don't, I'll personally buy you the dozen hand towels if you don’y (NOTE: I will do no such thing).
Q: Anything Else I Should Know?
When Rabelais published his lewd, carnivalesque comedy about a giant named Gargantua, so many people took offense that he considered never putting pen to paper again. But he did. In fact, he wrote a sequel, because, as he explained in the book's introduction, he refused to allow the sour and pinch-faced to win. He called people who couldn’t take a joke "agelasts," from the Greek agelastos, which means "not laughing.” Fun crowd.
The Fetal Position has a strict No Agelasts policy. Life is hard enough with laughter, don't go trying to take that away from us, too. Piss off, go back to Twitter, quote me out of context, call for my head and feel like a hero. That way we both win.
That's all. I hope you like what you find here at TFP. I hope you laugh, agree, or at least nod knowingly. I hope it gives you, and me, some momentary relief.
We're all in this fetal position together.