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Helen Zuman is a tree-hugging dirt worshipper devoted to turning waste into food and the stinky guck of experience into fertile, fragrant prose. She holds a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and a Half-FA in memoir from Hunter College. Raised in Brooklyn, she lives with her husband in Beacon, NY and Black Mountain, NC.
A Harvard grad seeks a mate in a cult that forbids monogamy. To pursue love on her own terms, she must brave exile and learn self-trust. When recent Harvard grad Helen Zuman moved to Zendik Farm in 1999, she was thrilled to discover that the Zendiks used go-betweens to arrange sexual assignations, or “dates,” in […]
Just as the Zendik community, a cult, pulled Helen Zuman in and held her, her account of her time there will pull you in and hold you. Her clear-eyed observations of her fellow idealists—and of herself—are honest, compelling, and sophisticated.
– DANIEL MENAKER, author of My Mistake: A Memoir
[Zuman’s] whip-smart prose…conveys the squalid exuberance of Zendik’s blend of idealism and fraud [in this] engrossing and offbeat story of ideological bonds that chafe—and sometimes liberate.
– KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review)
Zuman’s entertaining depiction of life in a cult pits the appeal of belonging versus the desire for self-determination. An enlightening read.
– JULIA SCHEERES, author of A Thousand Lives and Jesus Land
by helenzuman in General
Each morning, I engage in what I call “positive brainwashing”—I listen to a voice memo of myself reading a series of supportive texts (written in response to prompts from kick-ass life and career coach Sarah Mac), with the first few songs of The Complete Scottish Bagpipe Collection playing in the background. Here’s one such text; […]
In the days and weeks and months and years before MOSS, Madgelma had thought, a lot, about the polyculture of stories. She remembered learning, in high school biology, that scientists liked to conduct experiments on Drosophila melanogaster—the fruit fly—because it reproduced so quickly: they could observe, within forty-eight hours or so, the implications of a […]
Madgelma didn’t know what had gotten into her, on that particular day; she did know that the sweep of her arm seemed inexorable, as she shoved that first laptop off the table. She was staying at a hostel in Scotland, on the sacred Isle of Iona. There was a sign posted on the door to […]