Four Men Shaking: Searching for Sanity with Samuel Beckett, Norman Mailer, and My Perfect Zen Teacher

Lawrence Shainberg. Shambhala, $16.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-61180-729-5
In his enthralling memoir, novelist and Zen Buddhist Shainberg (Ambivalent Zen) explores questions about writing, spiritual practice, and brain damage through his personal relationships with Norman Mailer, Samuel Beckett, and Kyudo Nakagawa. Shainberg points to an early turning point in his life when, during a session with a therapist, he was freed of his impulses and became able to accept the present moment with equanimity. After this experience, he writes of how he conceived of the main tension in his life: the twofold desires to create form out of emptiness, and to see emptiness as an underlying form. Shainberg spends most of the book teasing apart this tension. In his estimation, Mailer and Beckett responded to this tension differently: Mailer embraced form, struggling to make sense of the vicissitudes of the everyday; Beckett embraced emptiness, lingering in the void of meaninglessness. Lurking in the middle between form and emptiness—and calling Shainberg to return to the present moment—is the Zen teacher Kyudo Nakagawa. Shainberg’s enlightening memoir about three transformative relationships is accessible, deceptively simple, and wise. (July)
Reviewed on : 04/19/2019
Release date: 07/16/2019
Genre: Religion
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