In the Orthodox Jewish community of Monsey, New York, Shalom Auslander—"theologically abused" as a child, "touched inappropriately by an angel"—came of age protesting the tyranny of God. Now an angst-ridden, married father-to-be, he remains "painfully, cripplingly, incurably, miserably religious." In the bitingly comic Foreskin's Lament (Riverhead), Auslander tells how he flubbed his grade school "blessing-bee" (like a spelling bee, but with blessings for food); how he shoplifted, binged on non-kosher beef jerky, obsessed about sex, and haggled with a God who bore no slight resemblance to his own abusive dad. "Maybe," speculated the prodigal son, "when God got pissed off, He made his way downstairs to Earth…and threatened to break your goddamn arms. Or your goddamn heart."