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.