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Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything Hardcover – April 8, 2014
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"The questions in the world may be infinite, but perhaps the answers are few. And however we define that mystery, there's no escaping our essential obligation to it, for it may, as Ehrenreich writes, 'be seeking us out.'"―New York Times Book Review
"The factor that makes each of [Barbara's] books so completely unique in American intellectual life is her persistent sensitivity to matters of social class. She can always see through the smokescreen, the cloud of fibs we generate to make ourselves feel better about a world where the work of the many subsidizes the opulent lifestyles of the few. That, plus the fact that she writes damned well. Better than almost anyone out there, in fact."―Salon
"As personal a piece of writing as she has ever done... A surprising turn for Ehrenreich, who for more than 40 years has been one of our most accomplished and outspoken advocacy journalists and activists."―The Los Angeles Times
"Until reading LIVING WITH A WILD GOD I counted the Mary Karr memoir trilogy as my favorite from a contemporary literary figure. Now, Ehrenreich's memoir is tied for first place with Karr's books... Thank goodness [this book] exists. It is quite likely to rock the minds of readers who dare open to the first page."―Houston Chronicle
"A smart and enjoyable read... Ehrenreich maintains a grip on a sensible skepticism about religious matters - and a positive hostility toward the idea of unthinking faith - while avoiding the narrow-minded excesses that more zealous atheists sometimes fall victim to."―The Chicago Tribune
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Top Customer Reviews
Living with a Wild God focuses on a set of dissociative moments experienced by Ehrenreich during her childhood and teen years. Uncanny insights into the nature of being? Encounters with the divine? Brain freeze explosions? An atheist, Ehrenreich refuses to give a conventional religious interpretation to what happened. In fact she doesn’t want to corrupt the purity of experience by interpreting or defining these moments at all. Okay, but then why write a book that keeps circling back to these incidents only to back away from explaining why they feel so crucial to her life story?
What results from all this is a weirdly unsatisfying memoir. We get the story of a brainly misfit growing up in a dysfunctional household headed by an alcoholic father and miserably unhappy, abusive mother. Ehrenreich’s enjoyably snarky voice, which works so well in most of her writing, falls flat here. Other than a nicely mean account of her adolesence in LA (like the Kerouac of Big Sur, she hates the California sun) the author skates along the surface of her life story, meting out a kind of impersonal contempt to everyone including her solipsistic youthful self. High school, college, grad school, marriage, motherhood, the anti-war movement… blah, blah.
I was now, according to my kindle, 80% of the way through the book. Suddenly, bam! A whole new kind of writing starts happening. In a deeply personal tone, Ehrenreich tells us why she wrote Living with a Wild God.Read more ›
The book has two focuses of interest: first, her experience itself, which includes vivid accounts not only of what we might call uncanny moments but also of a very difficult childhood with two unhappy and finally alcoholic and suicidal parents. Ehrenreich writes about her parents with a detachment that is well short of clinical, but it's a detachment we can well understand as being the product of strategies that she, an unusually self-conscious, articulate child, devised to survive her relationship with these parents. She doesn't over-analyze, however: she contextualizes, and her adolescent encounters with uncanniness, along with her solipsism and precocious reading are set forth without any tightly connecting web of causes and effects being drawn between them.Read more ›
As one who has had a life of "non-ordinary" experiences, I looked forward to the publication of this book. BE needed to include the relevant information about her life/psychological state as it pertained to her powerful experience, but the weight of these chapters in the book makes it veer into ordinary memoir territory. My guess is BE, an admirable writer, has entered the age when her entire life needs to have meaning -- and so she writes a book to spend time with her precocious young self.
Granted, her family's atheism is an important context for what she felt/saw/understood in her powerful non-ordinary experience. But the reader could have sized up her family circumstances in less pages. My eyes glazed over throughout the chapters on her laboratory work. I think there were more personal after-effects to be told regarding her epiphany than what she presents here, but BE felt the need to display her science bona fides instead.
Toward the end of the book BE finally gets down to musing about what she had seen and felt. She does so from the position of a carefully-guarded scientist/intellectual. She admits that she has spent little time in her life immersing herself in non-Freudian, non-clinical psychology, and that she has no intention of doing so in the future. As a writer known for her research, this is odd. Why does she drop her signature journalism for this book? She seems to understand the synchronous role of the friend who spearheaded her experience.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting discussion of an experience of the world that could be considered religious or mystical. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Athena
What sort of psychotic, acid-induced claptrap is this? Essentially the author attributes all unexplained paranormal phenomenon to hallucinations. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Living with a Wild God is Barbara Ehrenreich's memoir(ish) ruminations on the child she was, the adult she became and a (the?) pivotal event in her life. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Earl
I enjoyed it,but as I read it, I thought that it would have questionable broad appeal, at best. Hence my rating... Thank you.Published 1 month ago by Orlando D. Mack
I usually love Ehrenreich's books, but this one felt like rambling. I thought for sure that the next chapter would start to get to the point...but it never did.Published 1 month ago by Baltimore Mom
This was a narrative, rather than poetry, which I found disappointing. It is well-written as far as that goes. Read morePublished 2 months ago by N. Coppedge
Part memoir, part inquiry into extraordinary experience, Barbara Ehrenreich's _Living With a Wild God_ offers stirring insights into the life of this important feminist author and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by S. Magliocco