Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review # 112: Hope: A Tragedy- A Novel by Shalom Auslander

     Solomon Kugel, a death obsessed neurotic, yearns for a fresh start for his family; so he moves them from the hustle and bustle of NYC to a farmhouse in the little known, (and little known for), Stockton, NY. Unfortunately, escaping his past - and his neuroses - proves an impossibility due to continuing family drama, his mother's hoarding and dementia, an arsonist who's goal is to burn down every farmhouse in the neighborhood, and a mysterious and annoying tapping coming from the attic. Thinking the tapping could be some sort of rodent infestation, Solomon ascends, with a flashlight in hand, into the box-crammed attic and finds none other than Anne Frank - old, alive, crude, and cranky - who is trying to write a sequel to her original bestseller The Diary Of Anne Frank... No Spoilers!

     Honestly, I didn't' know what to expect from Shalom Auslander's Hope: A Tragedy, especially after examining the strange cover art and reading the blurb on the back cover. I hadn't read other books by this author, but had heard mixed reviews - funny, dark, twisted, pessimistic, paradoxical, etc... Well, after reading all 292 pages, I wholeheartedly agree! It is one of the few books that I have read that left me laughing-out-loud one minute, depressed about life the next, and scratching my head in confusion and dismay a couple pages later. It's a very "far-out" and cynical read, and I am sure that this book isn't for everyone; some readers may even find it crude, over-the-top, nonsensical, unstructured, and repetitive, but that is how it is written. The format actually does a lot for the book overall - particularly when the reader considers the personalities/neuroses of the characters, Solomon especially. The characters are strangely comical, but I couldn't relate to a few of them which made a couple sections boring; those involving Professor Jove weren't my favorite. I did however enjoy Solomon's relationship with his mother and her constant reminiscing about her faux stay in a concentration camp. The plot is not evident at first, but once I got into it I found it easier to grasp. One of the main reasons I was tripped up a few times was that there were no quotation marks in the dialogue, so I had trouble following who was speaking in the conversations. Overall, I did enjoy Hope: A Tragedy and recommend it to those interested in reading something deviating from the norm that will make some laugh, some scowl, and leave others dumbfounded.

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

*** I received this book from the author (Penguin Group USA) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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