…After spending the night in a car, she went for a walk at dawn and saw “the world [had] flamed into life.” A talented student (co-valedictorian in high school), especially in the sciences, Ehrenreich studied chemistry and physics in college and graduate school, a career path she abandoned during the era of Vietnam and civil rights. But ever resting like a splinter in her mind: that Lone Pine experience.

A powerful, honest account of a lifelong attempt to understand that will please neither theists nor atheists.” Kirkus Reviews (link)

Based on a notebook she started when she was 14 after a series of puzzling “dissociative” episodes that verged on the mystical, Ehrenreich, best-known for her polemics on issues of social justice (Bright-Eyed; Bait and Switch), fashions an intensely engrossing study of her early quest for “cosmic knowledge.” As a child of an upwardly mobile scientist father who had started as a copper miner in Butte, Mont., and a resentful mother of thwarted ambitions, both of whom were fierce atheists sliding into alcoholism by the mid-1950s, Ehrenreich moved constantly, eventually landing briefly in Lowell, Mass., where her first mystical experience occurred, then to Los Angeles. Publishers Weekly  (link)

“That was the deal, wasn’t it? We live out our little lives, then we die, but the payoff was supposed to be some glorious meaning, for anyone clever enough to find it, that would light up the sky, perhaps at the moment of death, like the aurora borealis, and redeem all the trivia and suffering. That’s what “meaning” is—a special additive like salt or garlic that could make the most fetid piece of meat seem palatable, even delicious.”

Read an excerpt from Living with a Wild God

“Now she has come up with the words, and I’m tempted to credit Ehrenreich with managing a miracle. But she resolutely avoids rhetoric in that “blubbery vein”—which is why her book is such a rare feat.”
The Atlantic (link)