♥ Loved: Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls
♥ Loved: Rupert Sheldrake, Science Set Free
X Hated: Sam Harris, Free Will
Recommendation: As a proud generalist with only the glancingest familiarity with science, the Grumpy Librarian had to get someone to explain to her the post-mechanistic science promoted by the spectacularly named Rupert Sheldrake. Did you know he is pals with fellow anti-materialist Deepak Chopra? The GL bets that their theoretically rigorous guru parties are downright transcendental.
The GL is glad that you stand firm in the belief that free will exists, even if she is mildly disturbed by your dedicating that will to terrifying books about serial-killer dreamlands. This column is nothing if not servicey, however, and so Denis Johnson’s 1992 short-story collection Jesus’ Son is offered for your approval. Full of terrible choices, shrieking violence and unreliable narrators, the book also has a few years’ allotment of active verbs. The Grumpy Librarian once used the opening story, “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” to teach a group of precocious middle-schoolers about vivid language and they obediently filled the blackboard with age-appropriate lines like “the blood ran off him in strings.” It was not a rousing success.