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Travels in Spiritual America


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Brad Gooch is the author of three novels, as well as City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O’Hara, and Finding the Boyfriend Within. He is Professor of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey and writes for Travel + Leisure, Harper’s Bazaar, The New Republic, and Vanity Fair. He lives in New York City.

Photo (c) Patrick Demarchelier

From the author of City Poet, the brilliant biography of Frank O’Hara, now comes a fascinating account of thriving forms of spirituality in what is being called a “post-denominational” age.

As the nineties were drawing to a close, Brad Gooch set out on a journey to explore traditional and nontraditional forms of spirituality that took him across America and to India. Gooch’s quest—partly personal and partly investigative—took him to Chicago to read the mysterious Urantia Book; to Goa and La Jolla to experience the talks and treatments of Deepak Chopra; to Ganeshpuri and South Fallsburg, New York, to listen to the charismatic leader Gurumayi Chidvilasananda; to Bardstown, Kentucky, to observe the quiet solitude of the Trappists and to Dubuque, Iowa, to see the Trappistines; to Dallas to worship with the members of the gay congregation of the Cathedral of Hope; and to New York to talk with Muslims and Sufis. As Gooch proceeded on this unique spiritual odyssey—from fringe to mainstream—he witnessed diverse movements and religions and their strong appeal to a broad spectrum of followers.

Brad Gooch has written a revealing, richly detailed document of our time. In Godtalk, character, dialogue, and setting come together in an irresistible, fast-paced narrative that is both engaging and informative about the unexpected nature of spirituality in America today.

"It's hard to imagine a more important subject than religion in America, or a more compassionate, accessible guide than Brad Gooch. Godtalk is a necessary book."
-- Michael Cunningham

"Brad Gooch's protean talents are manifold: he has brought a poet's sensibiltiy to the art of biography and a biographer's sense of detail to fiction. His current travels in spiritual America bring much to bear on what comprises the interior self. A revelation."
-- Hilton Als

"On so hot a subject as religion in America, Brad Gooch is as serenely cool as Tocqueville was on an equally hot subject, democracy in America; and as irresistibly readable."
-- Gore Vidal

"A tour de The Force."
-- Andrew Tobias

"In this period of self-searching, Brad Gooch guides you through spiritual America with intelligence, wit and sensitivity. He gives one of the first authentic accounts of what it's like to be among the believers. A fascinating read."
-- Diane von Furstenberg