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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
News reports about the cult NXIVM — whose leader, Keith Raniere, now awaits trial in Brooklyn on charges of sex trafficking and forced labor — brim with horrifying details. Female “slaves” were branded with Raniere’s initials. They dieted to the point of gauntness, and handed over damning “collateral” as insurance against defection. Of course, the particulars of the story […]
by helenzuman in Zendik
In Chico, California, in April 2005, I got my first and only tattoo. It looks like a voluptuous “W,” with one end curving around the mole on my left forearm. It comes from a Zendik “mind-tuner” called The Psychic Compass; it’s linked to the following message: Do you dream of another, a higher reality? The […]
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 […]