Four Men Shaking: Searching for Sanity with Samuel Beckett, Norman Mailer, and My Perfect Zen Teacher (Paperback)
From Pushcart Prize-winning author Lawrence Shainberg, a funny and powerful memoir about literary friendships, writing, and Zen practice.
“Inexplicably good karma”—to this, author Lawrence Shainberg attributes a life filled with relationships with legendary writers and renowned Buddhist teachers. In Four Men Shaking he weaves together the narratives of three of those relationships: his literary friendships with Samuel Beckett and Norman Mailer, and his teacher-student relationship with the Japanese Zen master Kyudo Nakagawa Roshi. In Shainberg’s lifelong pursuit of both writing and Zen practice, each of these men represents an important aspect of his experience. The audacious, combative Mailer becomes a symbol in Shainberg’s mind for the Buddhist concept of “form,” while the elusive and self-deprecating Beckett seems to embody an awareness of “emptiness.” Through it all is Nakagawa, the earthy, direct Zen master challenging Shainberg to let go of his endless rumination and accept reality as it is.
About the Author
Lawrence Shainberg is the author of the celebrated memoir Ambivalent Zen as well as the nonfiction book Brain Surgeon: An Intimate View of His World. He has published three novels—Crust, One on One, and Memories of Amnesia—and his fiction and journalism have appeared in Esquire, Harper’s Magazine, Tricycle, and The New York Times Magazine. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize for a monograph on Samuel Beckett, published in The Paris Review.
"Shainberg’s enlightening memoir about three transformative relationships is accessible, deceptively simple, and wise." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Four Men Shaking felt to this reader a deeply necessary utterance, one effortlessly delivered after decades of rigorous preparation. By the time I finished it I was a fifth man shaking, and with gratitude.”—Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn
“Brilliant. And very moving.”—Mark Epstein MD, author of Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself
“Where else can you find penetrating insights into the creative and spiritual complexities of daily life alongside no-holds-barred conversations involving literary icons Samuel Beckett and Norman Mailer? Four Men Shaking is engaging from beginning to end, and beyond.”—Rudolph Wurlitzer, author of The Drop Edge of Yonder and Hard Travel to Sacred Places
“Shainberg has done the impossible: taken three entirely different lives and woven them together so they form a fourth—an honest, wide-eyed but sage narrator who can both thumb-wrestle and meditate. The book combines humor and wisdom in an original and totally engaging narrative. I read it with full pleasure.”—John Skoyles, author of A Moveable Famine and Secret Frequencies