Ear­li­er this week, Matthue Roth blogged about pub­lish­ing a real life old-fash­ioned book and get­ting up ear­ly

Yes­ter­day, I put out a Twit­ter call: What should I write about? The always-depend­able dlevy asked, in reply, have you talked about respons­es to your work from non Jew­ish read­ers?” I haven’t, not yet — but I also haven’t real­ly talked about my response from Jew­ish read­ers. (And, sort of on that sub­ject, I could also puz­zle why I’ve got­ten such amaz­ing Ama­zon reviews from read­ers I don’t know — because, as you know, all Jews know each oth­er — but the one review that I know is from a friend is, well, nice, but so short.)

Weird­ly, if you want to keep a score­card, I’ve writ­ten two books that are about Ortho­dox Jews, my first two, and then two books (and a movie) that have noth­ing to do with Ortho­dox Jews. I say it’s weird because, as I’ve become more and more fun­da­men­tal­istly Hasidic, I seem to be writ­ing less overt­ly about Jews.

What does it mean? And why does my new book Auto­mat­ic strad­dle the bound­ary, telling sto­ries about me in high school, back when I had no idea I’d ever become Ortho­dox, but stick­ing in a blurb or two of wis­dom from the Vil­na Gaon and kab­bal­ah? Here, let me show you:
Every day I remem­ber I’m alive I feel guilty. Some days I sleep­walk through the day and don’t even remem­ber that much. There are kids starv­ing in Africa. There are kids starv­ing a cou­ple blocks from where I live.

The Vil­na Gaon says that, if humans weren’t blessed with the pow­er to for­get, we would learn all there is to know in two or three years, and there would be no fur­ther rea­son for us to remain alive.

I’d like to think, in my self-assured way, that every­one (Ortho­dox peo­ple, non-Ortho­dox peo­ple, non-Jews) can float with my weird, Paulo Coel­ho-like digres­sions, and that they still under­stand what I’m say­ing in the first place. Back when I was going to poet­ry slams every night, peo­ple thought of me as the Jew­ish guy,” even though this was Berke­ley and half the room was Jew­ish — because I was the one who did poems about being Jew­ish. I talked about Judaism like the black kids talked about being black, and the Sri Lankan kids talked about being Sri Lankan, and the Pales­tin­ian kids talked about being Pales­tin­ian. And all my most pop­u­lar poems were the ones that includ­ed the most weird things about reli­gion, and the most Yid­dish words:

One night I said to this gay Arab poet, who’d had to leave his coun­try because they want­ed to kill him, that we were both in exile, and he said back, Baby, the whole WORLD is in exile. It was the most Jew­ish thing I’d ever heard. And one of the truest.

Maybe that’s the mean­ing behind Auto­mat­ic — it’s my lit­tle book about my friend­ship with my Chris­t­ian best friend, and how Jew­ish the whole thing was. Or how Irish Catholic it was. Or maybe we’re all just talk­ing about the same feel­ings, and using dif­fer­ent metaphors to dri­ve it home. And by metaphors,” I don’t mean in that puz­zling poet­ry way. I mean lan­guages. And gods. And ways to digest the whole thing of our lives.

Matthue Roths newest book is Auto­mat­ic. He is also the author of three nov­els and the mem­oir Yom Kip­pur a Go-Go, and is an asso­ciate edi­tor at MyJew​ish​Learn​ing​.com. His screen­play 1/20 is cur­rent­ly in pro­duc­tion as a fea­ture film.

Matthue Roth’s newest book is My First Kaf­ka: Rodents, Run­aways, and Giant Bugs, a pic­ture book, which will be released in June 2013. His young-adult nov­el Losers was just made a spe­cial selec­tion of the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion. He lives in Brookyn with his fam­i­ly and keeps a secret diary at www​.matthue​.com.