Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center


Product Details

Counterpoint LLC
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 1.1 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

Michael Downing's novels include the national bestseller Perfect Agreement, named one of the 10 Best Books of the year by Amazon and Newsday, and Breakfast with Scot, a comedy about two gay men who inadvertently become parents. An American Library Association honor book, Breakfast with Scot was adapted as a movie that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. His nonfiction includes Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center, hailed by the New York Review of Books as a "dramatic and insightful" narrative history of the first Buddhist monastery outside of Asia, and by the Los Angeles Times as "a highly readable book." His essays and reviews appear in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and other periodicals. Michael teaches creative writing at Tufts University. He and his partner have lived together in Cambridge for more than 25 years.


"Downing tells the story with a novelist's attention to character and detail . . . this book deserves a wide reading." --Publishers Weekly

"Downing wisely takes a Zen approach and weaves together diverse voices to create a fascinating, multifaceted chronicle." --Booklist (starred)

"Downing (Breakfast with Scot) journeys from the utopian origins of the center as the first Buddhist monastery ever established outside of Asia, through the success of the upscale Greens restaurant and the Tassahara Bread Bakery, to the explosion of shady business dealings, sexual exploitation of female workers, cultlike activities, and seemingly hypocritical use of Zen philosophies. Downing is not judgmental, instead presenting facts in a narrative style that flows quickly through 20 years of Zen Center enterprises and tumult." --Library Journal