“Inexplicably good karma”—to this, author Lawrence Shainberg attributes a life filled with relationships with legendary writers and renowned Buddhist teachers. In Four Men Shaking he weaves together the narratives of three of those relationships: his literary friendships with Samuel Beckett and Norman Mailer, and his teacher-student relationship with the Japanese Zen master Kyudo Nakagawa Roshi. In Shainberg’s lifelong pursuit of both writing and Zen practice, each of these men represents an important aspect of his experience. The audacious, combative Mailer becomes a symbol in Shainberg’s mind for the Buddhist concept of “form,” while the elusive and self-deprecating Beckett seems to embody an awareness of “emptiness.” Through it all is Nakagawa, the earthy, direct Zen master challenging Shainberg to let go of his endless rumination and accept reality as it is.
Four Men Shaking