Barbara Ehrenreich - Living With A Wild God (3 stars)

Barbara Ehrenreich - Living With A Wild God

A philisophical memoir by one of America's most socially engaged journalists

‘I will never write an autobiography,’ Barbara Ehrenreich claims, in the foreword to a book that comes closer to self-revelation than many more conventional memoirs. One of America's most socially engaged journalists, Ehrenreich's subject here is not so much herself, but the formative experience of her life.

The eldest daughter in a dysfunctional family, Ehrenreich was well practiced at 'disassociating', tuning out from reality in a way which made it seem more heightened and mysterious. When, as an adolescent, this disassociation turns into a full-blown 'mystical experience', she is presented with an aspect of reality that seems inimical to her rational, scientific beliefs, part of a secret self that she is only now able to explore.

A challenging if slightly dissatisfying read, Ehrenreich's account lingers too long on the purely autobiographical elements and doesn't leave quite enough space for an analysis of what she thinks might have happened to her. But her conclusions are by no means what you might expect. She avoids any easy answers, whether spiritual or material, which turn out to be disturbing and profound in equal measure.

Published by Granta, out now.

Elsewhere on the web