Drinking the Rain A Memoir

Alix Kates Shulman

North Point Press



Trade Paperback

256 Pages



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Winner of the Body Mind Spirit Award of Excellence
A Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist

At the age of fifty, Alix Kates Shulman left a city life dense with political activism, family, and literary community and went to stay alone in a small cabin on an island off the Maine coast. Living without plumbing, electricity, or a telephone, she discovered in herself a new independence and a growing sense of oneness with the world that redefined her notions of waste, time, necessity, and pleasure. With wit, lyricism, and fearless honesty, Shulman describes a quest that speaks to us all: to build a new life of creativity and spirituality, self-reliance and self-fulfillment.


Praise for Drinking the Rain

"A superb piece of work . . . It seems to encompass, in its narrow scope, all the anxieties and rewards, the political struggles and social changes of the American world."—Doris Grumbach, The Boston Globe

"This isn't a woman's book. This is Everyperson's book . . . [Shulman] possesses the journalist's powers of observation, the ability to make small details tell larger stories . . . Her truth is universal."—Akron Beacon Journal

"A magical book that takes on the great, paradoxical challenge we all face: how to live vitally connected to the world and within the lone self at one and the same time. . . The writing is supple, precise, rippling with grace; the ideas are provocative."—Houston Chronicle

"A thoughtful, lyrical memoir."—Chicago Tribune

"Shulman writes with such crisp clarity, skeptical wit, unegotistical honesty, and ravishing sensual beauty that . . . every page thrilled me with a sense of amazed kinship and fresh discovery."—The Toronto Star

"[Shulman is] the voice that has for three decades provided a lyrical narrative of the changing position of women in American society."—The New York Times

"Shulman's descriptions of nature are luminous, leaping from page to mind with the strength of simplicity. But it is her descriptions of the changing seasons within herself that raise the memoir to the level of numinous."—The Austin Chronicle

"A beautifully written exploration of midlife spiritual transformation . . . Drinking the Rain is a well-wrought paean to solitude and the delights that accrue from a simple, centered, and wonder-filled life."—Body Mind Spirit

"In Shulman's luminous, taut memoir of going native, she seesaws between the natural world and her fantasies about it . . . and realizes she is too layered to be simplified."—The Village Voice

"Shulman's graceful writing, as well as her enthusiasm for her daily discoveries of flora, fauna, and old wisdom stored away in the cabin's little library, makes Drinking the Rain enjoyable reading. Her final triumph as a renovated . . . woman makes it inspiring."—Arizona Daily Star

"Elegant . . . witty, and subtle."—Publishers Weekly

"An impressive and appealing journey . . . In the last few years, women have produced some of the more interesting meditations on solitude. Alix Kates Shulman's Drinking the Rain makes a . . . valuable contribution to the genre."—The Baltimore Sun

"Shulman describes her revelations . . . with lucidity and gratitude . . . She strikes a perfect balance; her memoir is mind-expanding yet modest, both lyrical and down-to-earth."—Booklist

"Unfailingly honest, thought-provoking . . . Drinking the Rain stands as a challenge and an invitation."—The Times Literary Supplement

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Drinking the Rain
THE tide is low, leaving a swath of damp, hard-packed sand as good as a dirt road for rolling my shopping cart along. Otherwise, the cartwheels would sink into the fine sand above the tide line or catch in the wrack, that dense tangle of seaweed, driftwood, shells, and debris that fringes the beach. The late-May sun is on its way down, spreading a vivid red glow across the sea and empty shore in starkest contrast to the life I've just left at the center of the continent's most worldly city. A city of eight million people speaking a combined
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  • Alix Kates Shulman

  • Alix Kates Shulman is the author of eleven books, including Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, and three other novels, two memoirs, two books on the anarchist Emma Goldman, and three children's books. She divides her time between New York City and Maine.
  • Alix Kates Shulman Marion Ettinger