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The Dark Path: A Memoir Hardcover – September 12, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It&'s no surprise when Schickler (Kissing in Manhattan) recounts his inner revelation— You&'ll never be a priest—halfway through this memoir about his years in discernment, weighing whether to pursue the life of a Catholic priest or simply to pursue beautiful women. Yet Schickler&'s raw truth narrative—which leaves no story untold, from poignant conversations with his hardy father to kinky behavior with a hotel concierge—never fails to keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat. His seamless weaving of storytelling, dialogue, and thoughts—funny one second and heart-wrenching the next—makes this journey of belief and nonbelief unforgettable and enjoyable. Here&'s what else is bullshit, Lack-of-God. It&'s bullshit that priests always told me that celibate priesthood is Something Higher, Schickler laments one evening. This tale contains equal amounts of irreverence and holiness, and their combination makes the narrative pure. Agent: Jennifer Carlson, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Sept.)

From Booklist

Since he was a young boy, Schickler (Kissing in Manhattan, 2001) grappled with twin desires, to become a Catholic priest and to revel in the company of women. Raised in a staunch Catholic family in upstate New York, he first sensed God along “the dark path” that meandered through the woods behind his house. He posed many questions to Him/Her, often about the women he was dating. “Dear God, will (insert current girlfriend’s name here) be my wife?” Schickler’s conflict of conscience intensified in college, where he engaged in serious inquiry about becoming a Jesuit, all the while dating women with various degrees of faith. After graduation, he took a job teaching at a prep school in Vermont, where a troubled student and crippling leg pain only added to his malaise. He began seeing a psychiatrist but long resisted taking his prescribed antidepressants. As time went on, Schickler wondered if he would ever find the path, dark or light, that would be right for him. Full of pathos and humor, Schickler’s memoir explores just what it means to feel love and have faith. --Allison Block
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books (September 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159448645X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594486456
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,337,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Neal Reynolds VINE VOICE on September 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are laughs here, but primarily, there's self-reflection. Paramount at the beginning is the conflict between his urge to become a Roman Catholic priest and his obsession and desire (from the age of 10) for girls and then with maturity women. Guess which wins.

He's fluent with the swear words, but I believe that is for the purpose of exhibiting very strong and impassioned feelings, not for the sake of the language itself. There's lots of sex here and that's to be expected considering his obsession with women.

So if you're willing to read the thoughts of a person who very well may reflect some of your own, this is the book for you. The writing is truly good and your reading will be easy, so if you're not all that sensitive to the language and sex, this is for you. (Otherwise, it's not)
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I really struggled how to rate this book. Schickler has talent as a writer - as testified to how I finished reading a book I didn't like very much. Talent-wise, prose-wise, I would give it a four. But ultimately, I based the rating on this: would I recommend it to a friend? No. Why? For one thing, a lot of it, especially the first half, seems akin to revenge-porn, spending way too much time describing small slights (someone wrote a mean thing in his yearbook - gasp!) and otherwise spending a lot of time singing the "somebody done somebody wrong" song. Schickler's treatment and style of writing about his ex-girlfriends seems like literary stalking, and at times sounds close to literally stalking in practice. And his "kiss-and-seeming-to-relish-the-tell" stories strike me as sometimes just mean-spirited, like he was either trying to get back at his ex-girlfriends, or even more slimy, letting their current husbands know ALL about his past with them. Though he says he has changed the names of everyone, without some major fudging, there is no way that the key people, and their family and friends, will fail to realize who he is talking about. After all, if you have only one main female obsession in college, who else could it be? Or that priest who came on to you, the only one you ever spent time with? Ditto. And so on throughout the book. Maybe this was catharsis by art - and maybe he thought if people will pay him a few bucks for it, why not?

One of the main threads, suggested by both the cover artwork and the Salon review that got me interested in the book in the first place, is in regards to spirituality and religion. If that is something that caught your interest too, prepare to be disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
People have a habit of reviewing memoirs based on the person's worldview and choices. I hate that. While I have a totally different religious perspective, and different perspectives on almost everything, I absolutely loved this book.

I couldn't help but fall in love with his absolutely brutal honesty. He writes with candor that most people can't even use in private. He swears a lot, but I felt like it was to convey the strength of a thought or emotion and not gratuitious. His use of language made you feel what he felt, and for the most part, you really could experience his life through his writing in a raw, totally honest way. I admire his honesty and his transparency. He's real and you walk away feeling like you knew him, walked in his shoes, and suffered some of his pain, and experienced some of his victory.

He's also an absolutely incredible writer. Both the story and the writing are captivating. I literally read the book in one day - I couldn't put it down.

If you're the type of person that needs to agree with what the author's writing this may not be your cup of tea, but if you can appreciate a memoir on its own and someone's perspective about it, I can't recommend this one highly enough. I wish I had 10 more like it on my shelf.
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This is indeed a very “Dark Path” which the author revisits again, and again and again, so much so that you start to feel you no longer want to hear any more about that dark and depressing place. (Not to mention the bad hip) I found no humor in the memoir at all. It just seems to be a very sad story laced with an overdose of the “F” word sprinkled with sexual escapades that do nothing to improve a real dreary tale. I came away from this book feeling sorry - not for the main character but sorrow for his parents and all those whose confidences were revealed and betrayed. Some things are better left unsaid. All in all a sorrowful story right up to the end when he observes a female in church on Pentecost Sunday and loses the ability to concentrate on the mass he is attending. I do hope the guy finds his way off that very “Dark Path” someday and puts the Paxil behind him.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
David Schickler, author and co-creator of the ever-so-dark Banshee series, writes a very readable memoir describing his efforts to determine his path (priesthood vs. teacher/author). He retells stories from his youth and blend them well providing a picture of how his experience mold him into his college years. His college years were pretty epic... I'm kinda jealous - but again, Schickler very deftly shows how his actions/decisions molded what comes next. He continues in this vein throughout the book leaving the reader with an understanding of his path and the costs/payoffs for everything he has done. The description of the other characters in the book are ever so believable and full. I found his descriptions and ideas regarding God and mental illness were pretty unique and extremely thought provoking.

For those of you who do decide to read this, there is a passage when David is about 25, comes home for a visit and his sister sets him up with a girlfriend who was very meek in high school. The next morning, David is sitting at the breakfast table and has a conversation with his sister and mother about the previous evening. I laughed so hard that everyone in the house came running into the study to find out what had happened (I don't often laugh until I cry, sitting in a room by myself). I thought it was one of the funniest things I have read in years. If you did not think it was that funny, let me know... please!! (I am thinking it was so funny to me because it was so absolutely real - I can see how my family would have reacted in the same situation :))

If you are dogmatic or don't like rough language or light blasphemy, this book might not be for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend this peek into such a creative mind and how Mr. Schickler got to be where he is... This is a guy I would sit down and drink a beer with any day!!

All the best,

Jay
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