Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
What does a 70-something journalist, advocate for social justice, and life-long atheist trained in science make of the long series of spiritual-feeling dissociative experiences she’s had off and on since she was a teenager? Barbara Ehrenreich, author Nickel and Dimed, turns her unflinching, unsentimental powers of investigation on herself this time and the result is largely fascinating.
She originally expected to write a history of religion, but at the advice of her agent that plan morphed. Ehrenreich often appears in her writing, taking menial jobs to report on them in Nickel and Dimed, and using her experiences as a cancer patient in the magazine article “Welcome to Cancerland,” but this is a more personal life history. Ehrenreich writes about being raised without much affection by alcoholic parents in a working class family whose atheism goes back several generations, giving her no context for the maybe mystical, world on fire states she would slip into. As a young child she became consumed with the question “Why do we die and what is the purpose of life?” and even before her scientific training she tried to find answers in the most systematic ways she could design--a quest she has continued though it has taken various forms. By her own account she was self-centered, almost not believing in the existence of conscious feeling beings outside herself, until a lab partner mentioned he might be drafted into the Vietnam War, a revelation that began her career as an activist.
I have long been impressed by Ehrenreich’s commitment to causes and powers of reasoning so the chance to look inside her life was irresistible.There were a few parts of the book I skimmed, the details of her lab experiments for instance, but even those sections usually led to the consideration of interesting ideas. Like all of Ehrenreich’s books Living With a Wild God is unshrinking, eye-opening, and thought-provoking, with passages of smart, sharp humor.