The Dark Path: A Memoir

The Dark Path: A Memoir

5.0 2
by David Schickler
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.)
From the Publisher
"A funny and uncomfortably honest memoir by a deeply talented writer. David Schickler writes about the mysteries of faith and sex with unblinking candor and an abiding sense of wonder."
–Tom Perrotta

“This is that rarest of memoirs: a smart, funny, and searingly honest journey that rings true on every page. Whether he’s describing his devout Catholic upbringing or his misadventures with a nymphomaniac hotel concierge, Schickler chronicles every step of his epic quest to reconcile God, religion, sex, love, and family and does so with wit, grace, and a profound empathy for everyone he’s met along the way.”
—Jonathan Tropper

“This book of religion and youth, of growing older and finding who you are, is funny and poignant, lyrical and hard-headed, and honest.  David Schickler tells us not just what it's like to be a young man considering the priesthood; he tells us—with more insight and heart than almost anyone before him—what it's like to be a young man.”
—Darin Strauss

“A bracingly original and fantastically entertaining page-turner. David Schickler’s fiercely funny, wrenchingly dark, gorgeously written memoir of almost becoming a Catholic priest chronicles years of struggle and anguish, but it also illuminates what it means to stay true to yourself no matter what.”
—Kate Christensen

“A touching, truthful, and often harrowing journey into a young man’s faith. The Dark Path is about what happens to one’s relationship with God when the off-the-shelf model stops working.”
—Mishna Wolff

“In his brave and irreverent new memoir, The Dark Path, former wannabe Catholic priest David Schickler … writes with vivid clarity about his lifelong struggles with God and sex. To be sure, it’s a blessing for the church that he never took the cloth.”
Details

“Lighthearted yet lyrical.”
The Atlantic Wire

“[Schickler’s] struggle is at once universal and unique, gritty and holy…an engaging, relatable story that is a pleasure to read.”
Kirkus Reviews 
 
“Full of pathos and humor, Schickler’s memoir explores just what it means to feel love and have faith.”
Booklist

“Schickler's ‘raw truth’ narrative…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.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Searing and honest…Schickler’s deft hand with dialogue, scene and humor maintains a light touch, and provides interesting contrast to the dark night of the soul he undergoes…this is a comic memoir, and yet its great strength is the simplicity and gentleness of the heart under examination.”
BookPage 

“[Schickler] is a master scene setter, quietly finding the emotional jugular time after time, and conveys emotional bravery as he fumbles between faith and flesh, between art and making a living as a writer, with the searing honesty central to all great memoirs.”
Shelf Awareness
 

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 Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/12/2013
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 8.38(h) x 1.11(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for The Dark Path

“A funny and uncomfortably honest memoir by a deeply talented writer. David Schickler writes about the mysteries of faith and sex with unblinking candor and an abiding sense of wonder.”
—Tom Perrotta

“That rarest of memoirs: a smart, funny, and searingly honest journey that rings true on every page.” 
—Jonathan Tropper

“A bracingly original and fantastically entertaining page-turner. David Schickler’s fiercely funny, wrenchingly dark, gorgeously written memoir of almost becoming a Catholic priest chronicles years of struggle and anguish, but it also illuminates what it means to stay true to yourself no matter what.” 
—Kate Christensen

“Lighthearted yet lyrical.”
The Wire

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