IN MY FATHER'S GARDEN by Kim Chernin

IN MY FATHER'S GARDEN

KIRKUS REVIEW

 This exploration of spirituality via a look back at dad and the experience of easing a friend into death is right in sync with new directions in the self-help field. A prolific writer, Chernin (A Different Kind of Listening, 1994, etc.) is also a psychoanalyst who early in her career grabbed onto issues like body image, eroticism, bisexuality, and women's relationships with their mothers; her explorations of them brought her a dedicated audience. This small book uses her memories of her quiet and thoughtful father (as opposed to her noisy and assertive mother, whom she wrote about in In My Mother's House) as a springboard to reflections on the Meaning of Life. Her belief that ``we live in a universe built fundamentally upon spiritual values'' is not, she says, ``a fashionable idea,'' although, in fact, its current trendiness quotient is up there with those of Donna Karan and Web sites. Divided into three parts, Chernin's journey begins with a reminiscence of Saturday walks with her father, of his love for his garden, and of his ``small acts of kindness and concern,'' which may have had as much impact on her dreams of a socialist future as her mother's larger and more public efforts at political change. Next is a story of a woman dying of cancer. Chernin's efforts to help- -including a promise of assisted suicide, if necessary, and episodes of energy transfer from therapist to patient--led to a new agenda for the author, a desire to work with the dying. Third is the lure of a ``divine mother,'' a Hindu woman distributing her blessings in a small town in Germany. After a visit to Mother Meera, Chernin returns to her California home inspired to reconcile her legacies of political activism and spirituality. Perhaps enough spiritual sustenance for her but not enough for the reader. Tillers of spiritual soil need to dig much deeper than the author does here.

Pub Date: July 31st, 1996
ISBN: 1-56512-100-7
Page count: 196pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996




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