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Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Adrian Shirk
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Heaven Is a Place on Earth

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Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Adrian Shirk
Hardcover
Mar 15, 2022 | ISBN 9781640093300

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Praise

“A mix of travel writing, memoir, historical biography, and spiritual journey, Heaven is a Place on Earth . . . is impeccably researched and vivid in its telling. Given the current state of the planet, it will likely provoke some serious soul-searching too.” —Jini Reddy, Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine

“[A] sprawling synthesis of memoir and social history . . . Shirk writes deftly and in depth. She is well-attuned to her topic’s threads of historical and spiritual complexity as well as her own feelings about relationships, sexuality, and community . . . [A] rigorous, personalized argument for the continued relevance of an old idea.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Melding memoir with wide-ranging research into American experiments in communal living like the Shakers and The Farm (an intentional community founded by hippies in the late 1960s), Shirk seeks historical and contemporary ways of living that are more sustainable, bountiful, creative, and supportive than the siloed, workhorse model favored under capitalism. Without idealizing these communal experiments, Shirk takes their complexities and contradictions as part of the necessary reality of imagining other ways of living.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Essayist Shirk (And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy) mixes autobiography and history in this enlightening study of utopian communities in America . . . Enriched by Shirk’s trenchant observations and open-minded curiosity, this is a winning survey of the desire to make the world a better place.” —Publishers Weekly

Heaven is a Place On Earth is the most beguiling invitation I’ve received in years. It offers a radically new way of thinking about the radical promises of utopia—one that is dynamic, paradigm-shifting, and, above all else, enthralling. It’s an exquisite book, but it’s also an open door for all who’ve been hungering for a new way to think of community and our place within it.” —Anne Helen Petersen, author of Can’t Even

“This book could not have come at a better time. At a moment when it can seem as if this country will never put its pieces together, Adrian Shirk gives us so many instances, historical and present-day, of Americans finding ways to live in real community, to carve out places of freedom, to be brave enough to stare our unhappinesses in the face and ask What more could there be? In a voice electric with possibility, Shirk reminds us of the great risk and great possibility contained in the act of reimagining home.” —Alex Mar, author of Witches of America

“As she physically travels all over our country and through some of life’s roughest emotional terrain—grief, regret, inadequacy, betrayal, unrequited idealism—Adrian Shirk takes the reader on a rich, lyrical journey of what it feels and looks like to persist in hope. Whether those hopes are in the form of a utopian farm cooperative formed in the 1800s or earnest hipsters gathering in upstate New York, even if you don’t share their same dreams Shirk’s writing leaves you wanting to treat hope, as she puts it, as a vocation. Heaven is a Place on Earth is not so much a study of utopianism as a meditation. Shirk has a skillful way of weaving together the scraps of seemingly unrelated snippets and insights into a gorgeous quilt of meaning. Utopian-ists want what we all want—fulfillment, happiness, community, but they don’t give up when life refuses to deliver. This book is a raw examination of that combination of obsession and grit—and it’s masterful.” —Kate Kelly, human rights lawyer and author of Ordinary Equality

“What kind of world will we create in the wake of a global pandemic and armed insurrection, in the midst of climate chaos, systemic racism, and inequity? In Heaven is a Place on Earth, the brilliant Adrian Shirk is looking for an existence that is more than just mere existence, more than ‘waged labor,’ a life that is less extractive, capitalistic, and crushing. A life that is instead, meaningful, creative, and beautiful. In these pages, I found myself believing such a thing might be possible, and you will too—a testament to Adrian’s tremendous power as a writer, intellectual, and human. This is an important book for the moment we find ourselves in.” —Cameron Dezen Hammon, author of This Is My Body: A Memoir of Religious and Romantic Obsession

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