The Dark Path

The Dark Path

A Memoir

Additional Formats
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781594486456
  • 336 Pages
  • Riverhead Books
  • Adult


A young man struggles to reconcile God, faith, and sex as he stumbles toward finding his life in this frank and beautifully written memoir.

Since childhood, David Schickler has been torn between his intense desire to become a Catholic priest and his equally fervent desire for the company of women. Growing up in a family of staunch Catholics in upstate New York, Schickler senses God along what he calls “the dark path”—a shadowy trail that winds through the woods behind his childhood home. On this path he begins his ongoing, frustratingly one-sided talks with God.

Things don’t get any clearer for Schickler at college, where he initiates serious conversations about becoming a Jesuit just as he enters a passionate relationship with a vivacious, agnostic young woman. He tries various obsessions—karate, beer, writing fiction—attempting to duck the mystical God he feels called to serve as a priest. His pursuits of these passions, and of the young woman, take him from Germany to New York City and eventually to New England, where he has a life-changing reckoning about whether he will end up wearing the clerical collar or getting the girl.

Candid and funny, lyrical and blunt, The Dark Path is an evocative portrayal of one man’s struggle with faith and women . . . both of which he tries to love with bold, bracing honesty.
The Dark Path

The Dark Path

David Schickler


“A funny and uncomfortably honest memoir by a deeply talented writer. David Schickler writes about the mysteries of faith and sex with unblinking candor and an abiding sense of wonder.”
–Tom Perrotta

“This is that rarest of memoirs: a smart, funny, and searingly honest journey that rings true on every page. Whether he’s describing his devout Catholic upbringing or his misadventures with a nymphomaniac hotel concierge, Schickler chronicles every step of his epic quest to reconcile God, religion, sex, love, and family and does so with wit, grace, and a profound empathy for everyone he’s met along the way.”
—Jonathan Tropper

“This book of religion and youth, of growing older and finding who you are, is funny and poignant, lyrical and hard-headed, and honest.  David Schickler tells us not just what it’s like to be a young man considering the priesthood; he tells us—with more insight and heart than almost anyone before him—what it’s like to be a young man.”
—Darin Strauss

“A bracingly original and fantastically entertaining page-turner. David Schickler’s fiercely funny, wrenchingly dark, gorgeously written memoir of almost becoming a Catholic priest chronicles years of struggle and anguish, but it also illuminates what it means to stay true to yourself no matter what.”
—Kate Christensen

“A touching, truthful, and often harrowing journey into a young man’s faith. The Dark Path is about what happens to one’s relationship with God when the off-the-shelf model stops working.”
—Mishna Wolff

“In his brave and irreverent new memoir, The Dark Path, former wannabe Catholic priest David Schickler … writes with vivid clarity about his lifelong struggles with God and sex. To be sure, it’s a blessing for the church that he never took the cloth.”

“Lighthearted yet lyrical.”
The Atlantic Wire

“[Schickler’s] struggle is at once universal and unique, gritty and holy…an engaging, relatable story that is a pleasure to read.”
Kirkus Reviews 
“Full of pathos and humor, Schickler’s memoir explores just what it means to feel love and have faith.”

“Schickler’s ‘raw truth’ narrative…never fails to keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat. His seamless weaving of storytelling, dialogue, and thoughts—funny one second and heart-wrenching the next—makes this journey of belief and nonbelief unforgettable and enjoyable.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Searing and honest…Schickler’s deft hand with dialogue, scene and humor maintains a light touch, and provides interesting contrast to the dark night of the soul he undergoes…this is a comic memoir, and yet its great strength is the simplicity and gentleness of the heart under examination.”

“[Schickler] is a master scene setter, quietly finding the emotional jugular time after time, and conveys emotional bravery as he fumbles between faith and flesh, between art and making a living as a writer, with the searing honesty central to all great memoirs.”
Shelf Awareness


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