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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 her life in a modern-day cult examines two clashing themes: the appeal of belonging versus the desire for self-determination. An enlightening read.
– JULIA SCHEERES, author of A Thousand Lives and Jesus Land
In five years at Zendik Farm, I spent countless hours selling Zendik merchandise (magazines and CDs, plus stickers and T-shirts bearing the slogan “STOP BITCHING START A REVOLUTION”) all over the South, Northeast, and Midwest, at concerts and festivals and on city streets. Selling did not come easily to me – often I dreaded it […]
Since beginning work on my Zendik book, more than ten years ago, I’ve read dozens of cult memoirs. (In 2008, on a train from New York to Seattle, I binge-read maybe seven or eight.) Many are terrible; some are decent; a few kick butt. The terribles fall into two categories: self-published exposés with a side […]
[I wrote this essay in June 2014. A month later, a man I met at the Northeast Permaculture Convergence became the first to respond to my admission of cult involvement with a version of, “Yeah, me too.”] I spent most of my twenties trapped in a story. The story, roughly, was this: The mass of […]