In My Father's Garden: A Daughter's Search for a Spiritual Lifeby Kim Chernin
Kim Chernin's mother was a leftist firebrand, an American Marxist at mid-century, when it was dangerous to be one. Her father, a quiet man, was no less radical. Why then, decades later, does their daughtera liberal California psychoanalyst and writerfind herself drawn toward a spirituality that would have shocked her parents? Through three personal
Kim Chernin's mother was a leftist firebrand, an American Marxist at mid-century, when it was dangerous to be one. Her father, a quiet man, was no less radical. Why then, decades later, does their daughtera liberal California psychoanalyst and writerfind herself drawn toward a spirituality that would have shocked her parents? Through three personal stories, Chernin tackles the questions that pull at all of us: how to make sense in a world whose order isn't always apparent, and how to find balance between the mind and the spirit. "Kim Chernin writes with immediacy and intimacy."City Life, London.
A prolific writer, Chernin (A Different Kind of Listening, 1994, etc.) is also a psychoanalyst who early in her career grabbed onto issues like body image, eroticism, bisexuality, and women's relationships with their mothers; her explorations of them brought her a dedicated audience. This small book uses her memories of her quiet and thoughtful father (as opposed to her noisy and assertive mother, whom she wrote about in In My Mother's House) as a springboard to reflections on the Meaning of Life. Her belief that "we live in a universe built fundamentally upon spiritual values" is not, she says, "a fashionable idea," although, in fact, its current trendiness quotient is up there with those of Donna Karan and Web sites. Divided into three parts, Chernin's journey begins with a reminiscence of Saturday walks with her father, of his love for his garden, and of his "small acts of kindness and concern," which may have had as much impact on her dreams of a socialist future as her mother's larger and more public efforts at political change. Next is a story of a woman dying of cancer. Chernin's efforts to helpincluding a promise of assisted suicide, if necessary, and episodes of energy transfer from therapist to patientled to a new agenda for the author, a desire to work with the dying. Third is the lure of a "divine mother," a Hindu woman distributing her blessings in a small town in Germany. After a visit to Mother Meera, Chernin returns to her California home inspired to reconcile her legacies of political activism and spirituality.
Perhaps enough spiritual sustenance for her but not enough for the reader. Tillers of spiritual soil need to dig much deeper than the author does here.
- Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1st ed
- Product dimensions:
- 5.24(w) x 7.30(h) x 0.70(d)
Meet the Author
Kim Chernin is the author of nine books, including The Obsession, The Hungry Self, Reinventing Eve, A Different Kind of Listening, and In My Mother's House. She lives in Berkeley, where she works as a pyschoanalytic consultant.
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