The Dark Path: A Memoir

( 1 )


A young man struggles to reconcile God, faith, and sex as he stumbles toward finding his life in this frank and beautifully written memoir.

Since childhood, David Schickler has been torn between his intense desire to become a Catholic priest and his equally fervent desire for the company of women. Growing up in a family of staunch Catholics in upstate New York, Schickler senses God along what he calls “the dark path”—a shadowy trail that winds through the woods behind his ...

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The Dark Path: A Memoir

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A young man struggles to reconcile God, faith, and sex as he stumbles toward finding his life in this frank and beautifully written memoir.

Since childhood, David Schickler has been torn between his intense desire to become a Catholic priest and his equally fervent desire for the company of women. Growing up in a family of staunch Catholics in upstate New York, Schickler senses God along what he calls “the dark path”—a shadowy trail that winds through the woods behind his childhood home. On this path he begins his ongoing, frustratingly one-sided talks with God.

Things don’t get any clearer for Schickler at college, where he initiates serious conversations about becoming a Jesuit just as he enters a passionate relationship with a vivacious, agnostic young woman. He tries various obsessions—karate, beer, writing fiction—attempting to duck the mystical God he feels called to serve as a priest. His pursuits of these passions, and of the young woman, take him from Germany to New York City and eventually to New England, where he has a life-changing reckoning about whether he will end up wearing the clerical collar or getting the girl.

Candid and funny, lyrical and blunt, The Dark Path is an evocative portrayal of one man’s struggle with faith and women . . . both of which he tries to love with bold, bracing honesty.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 08/12/2013
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.)
Kirkus Reviews
A memoir focusing on the passage from boyhood to manhood and from confusion to understanding.Fiction author Schickler (Sweet and Vicious, 2004, etc.) tackles the truth of his own life and the path he traveled through religion, confusion, depression and women to accomplish his goals. From early childhood, the author felt a visceral pull to God and the religion with which he was raised, Catholicism. Even as a child, Schickler wanted to be a priest, to bring God to the world in a real way, but the church often felt too unrealistic and too "bubbly-safe." Then there were the girls. His adolescent desire for neighborhood beauties turned into a romantic, sexual longing for women everywhere he went. Schickler wrestled with the tension of his two desires all the way through college and into graduate school before he finally found his answer. It didn't come easily. Plagued by depression and injury, he continued his search for truth and for a life that could make sense for every part of his heart. He believed in a God within darkness, and he ably shows in his exploration how that dark edginess is mirrored in the human condition. In this memoir, it isn't the devil in the details, it's all the ways that Schickler understands or doesn't understand his God, the beauty of shadows on wooded paths and in human hearts. The author's struggle is at once universal and unique, gritty and holy. There is truth in Schickler's pain and happiness, which makes for an engaging, relatable story that is a pleasure to read. In giving him notes on his short fiction, a friend wrote the author, "Tell the raw truth." With this memoir, he does just that.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594486456
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/12/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 951,761
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

David Schickler

David Schickler is the author of the bestselling story collection Kissing in Manhattan and the novel Sweet and Vicious. He has been published by Zoetrope, Tin House, and The New Yorker, among others. He is the co-creator and executive producer of the Cinemax action series Banshee. He lives in New York.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Schicker:

"I love running and it is somehow deeply connected to my writing. In high school, running cross-country and track was close to the most important thing in my life. I loved then and love now the discipline of running, the solitude, the self-reliance, the lack of equipment, the hard-won elations. I also respect and accept the injuries, the patience, and the days when I've just got nothing. I don't think about these things while I run, I just run, just as I don't think about writing while I'm writing, I just write. As a runner, I don't have the stamina or zip I had when I was seventeen, but I have stamina and zip as a writer, and somehow the one prepared me for or inspired me toward the other."

"I love movies and television. I see about two films a week out at theaters, and I stay up late most nights watching movies or shows on TiVo. Current shows I love are: 24, Arrested Development, The Office, Monk, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, NYPD Blue, and The Family Guy. These are smart, masterfully created pieces of entertainment, and, for the life of me, I can't understand certain people's kill-your-television crusades. I work hard, love my wife, friends and family, love traveling, sports, reading, dining out, the whole shebang, but I also need (especially after working all day with words on a page) the pleasure of television. I watch almost exclusively fictive shows, though, and I never watch more than 10 or 15 minutes of news a day: overall, the less news I watch, the more thoughtful, relaxed, and, I think, kinder I am."

"I come from an enormous family of about 70 first cousins (my father is one of ten children, my mother is one of eight, and I have three sisters and no brothers). Despite not knowing many of my relatives well (many live far from me), I consider them—in their vast array of personalities and lives—a blessing, comfort, resource, and just plain great story, and I hope I am sometimes the same for them."

"I'd like all my readers to know how grateful I am that they read my books and stories. Given how fraught and harried our lives often are, it is a winning and wonderful fact that people still seek out and cleave to fiction. I consider reading and writing two of the freest, most civilized, dangerous, occasionally radical, and rewarding pursuits of life, and it excites and inspires me that people might enjoy the stories I have to tell. So, truly, thank you for reading! Also, a request to my readers: if you know of any books that you think I'd really love (given all I've said above and the kind of fiction I write), please feel free to drop me a line on my web site and make a recommendation: I'd enjoy hearing from you."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 30, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Rochester, New York
    1. Education:
      B.S. in Foreign Service, Georgetown University, 1991; M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Columbia University, 1995
    2. Website:

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 12, 2013

    The Dark Path opens the readers eyes to how a conflict that perc

    The Dark Path opens the readers eyes to how a conflict that percolates through adolescence and early adulthood can have devastating consequences for the individual. The author came from a stable loving family that would seem to have given him the ingredients for a successful transition from child to adult. Yet, the dichotomy between his desire to be a priest and his desire to have a loving relationship with a with a wife and children strained his ability to maintain his mental stability. The intensity and honesty of the writing makes this a true page turner and you find yourself praying that he will find his way and work through this conflict. The fact that as readers we know the outcome from the beginning in no way diminishes the emotional pull of this book. Bravo to David Schickler for opening our eyes to how difficult "coming of age" can really be!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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