Author and producer Shalom Auslander uses humor to recount stories of shame, sex and God as a young boy growing up in an Orthodox Jewish community. His books, “Beware of God,” “Foreskin’s Lament” and “Hope: A Tragedy” draw on his Jewish upbringing and early questions about faith. Auslander has published articles in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, The New Yorker and Tablet. His Showtime television series, “Happyish,” is in its first season. Auslander’s writing can be found in Broad Street’s first issue, “Dangerous Territory.”
What role does truth play in your writing?
I try to start with a truth about myself – my shame, my fear, my guilt, my whatever. First I avoid it, then I deny it, then I excuse it, then I laugh at it, then I write about it.
How does honesty in storytelling translate to your character?
Every character is a part of me, and admits something about myself I probably wouldn’t otherwise. I begin with that basic charge to myself: “Admit something.”
How do you determine something is worth writing about?
If it makes me laugh, it’s worth writing about.
What do you find most challenging about writing the truth?
That the process begins with an excited “Oh, God, I have to tell this!” and ends with a defeated, “Oh God, they’re never going to publish this.”
What advice do you give to aspiring creative nonfiction writers and where did you learn that tip?
“If you’re going to throw a punch, throw a punch.” My karate teacher when I was 14, then my editor when I was 33.