Crooked Cucumber

Tonight Cancelled: Book Club on Suzuki Roshi’s Life and Zen Teaching

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Date(s) - 12/06/2018
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church


December 6th, Book Club CANCELLED.  We Will Return December 13th and 20th.
Crooked Cucumber, The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, by David Chadwick
I recommend Crooked Cucumber because, in my estimate at least, Chadwick’s writing is crisp and fluent and the book gives us a glimpse of what temple life and zen practice was like in Japan immediately before and after WWII.
The book also shows the complex social, religious, and cultural forces at play in Suzuki’s life as he grew in zen practice in his native Japan and then brought Soto Zen to San Francisco at the confluence in time of the rise of the Beat Movement, the birth of the 1960’s Counter Culture, and the dawn and evolving escalation of the Vietnam War.
Suzuki deftly and resiliently lived through tectonic transformations in Japanese and American culture. And the book shows us how Suzuki’s life and teaching grew to be more gentle, welcoming, and flexible over time.
Nevertheless, Chadwick does not flinch from also showing the reader Suzuki’s flaws and weaknesses–we get a full blooded portrait of a priest growing and struggling to live the practice.  Neither does Chadwick’s account flinch at raising many questions about the way zen practice was introduced to the West through Suzuki.
On the back cover of the book the publisher writes, “David Chadwick draws on Suzuki’s own words and the memories of his students, friends, and family.  Interspersed with previously unpublished passages from Suzuki’s talks, Crooked Cucumber evokes a down-to-earth life of the spirit.”
I’m looking forward to diving into this wonderful book with you all.
This book club will begin on Thursday, October 11 and finishes  on Thursday, December 6. The meeting time will be from 7:00 to 8:30 PM at the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church, 10 Church Street, Gloucester.
Everyone is welcome!

All Book Clubs are free to SHZ members.

The suggested nonmember donation is $10 at the door each week. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
We will provide hot tea.
If you plan to attend, please rsvp via email at or at


Please contact me at the email address above with questions or comments!

I’m looking forward to spending time with you in pleasant, lively, and invigorating discussion!

Please visit other Sweeping Heart Zen events.  Here’s a link to our calendar:

We’re located in historic Gloucester which is about 40 miles north of Boston on Cape Ann. Cape Ann is on the far northeastern end of the North Shore of Massachusetts.


The steeple on the left in the photo is on the Gloucester UU Church.  That’s where we meet.