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Rememberings by Sinead O'Connor 

A conversational, self-deprecating memoir bereft of apologies and regret, from the Irish singer-songwriter.

Funny, frank and generous, this chronicle from the 54 year old singer doesn’t follow the usual arc of a musician’s tale (ambition, success, depravity and eventual redemption) – O’Connor is truly too unique for anything that conventional. I’ll note that while I adore two of her singles, I’m not sure I’d even recognize her music otherwise, but this is one of those great reads where previous fandom or knowledge is not required.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr5958320

 

Talk to Me: A Novel by T.C. Boyle

A look at communication, human and animal consciousness and relationships wrapped up in a story of academic research on a chimpanzee raised from birth among humans.

Those familiar with linguistic and primate studies, or familiar with the documentary “Project Nim,” will recognize a somewhat thinly veiled account of a 1970s Columbia University psychology experiment that taught American Sign Language to an infant chimpanzee taken from his mother’s arms , sent to live with a human family. Many of the themes here have been explored by Boyle previously, but his talents as a writer and story-teller supersede any familiarity to past work. And while the story itself may not be new to some readers, telling it with a great many fictional liberties just makes it felt all the more. If the plight of the chimp here (Sam) doesn’t break your heart, you don’t have one.

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr6251851

The Hard Crow: Essays 2000-2020 by Rachel Kushner

A collection of essays revealing the Booker shortlisted author of The Mars Room as a new millennial heir apparent to Joan Didion.

Kushner writes about culture as an active participant, like the best of the New Journalists of the 60’s and early 70’s. The subjects here are wide-ranging: motorcycle racing, art, a Palestinian refugee camp, literary criticism, Italian underground cinema and working as a waitress in San Francisco. All are infused with a sense of living hard with eyes very wide open, that never turn away. In an age of first person writing that is mostly vulnerable and earnest, these essays serve as an absolute tonic and wild joy to read.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr5963677

Victoria Sees It by Carrie Jenkins

A literary tour de force about an academic woman's disintegration and incipient madness.

A note on marketing: I found the author blurb on the cover, from someone whose work I greatly admire, to be off-putting at best: "A brilliant thriller." Also, on the back jacket, the statement that this is "A queer psychological thriller." I get it - the publisher is afraid of the curse of a book being positioned as Literary Fiction and only selling 2,000 copies but these acts of desperation betray a lack of confidence in readers and the book itself, which is brilliant. A thrilling read does not a thriller make, and I find marketing schemes nothing but an off-putting disservice.

Adult Fiction Paperback pr5986507

Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage by Anne Lamott

More “Windex for the soul” that speaks to the better angels in all of us.

While she continues to explore themes of faith, creativity, alcoholism, community and the most pressing topics of the day, Lamott includes a focus on the “third third” of one’s life, including her own marriage at age 66. Some of Lamott’s work over the last decade has been a little too scattered: this volume shows more poise, with fewer digressions into things like how her new jeans fit. This book feels very appropriate for our current zeitgeist: haven’t we all suffered “stunned minds, broken hearts” over this last year? This is the next best thing to being able to meet and talk things over with an old friend, in person.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr5987369



Being Ram Dass by Ram Dass

Begun in 2010 and finished after his death in 2019 by friend and colleague Rameshwar Das, this is a beautifully written book about almost nine decades of spiritual seeking and growth.

From his time spent researching psychedelics at Harvard with Timothy Leary (when he was known as Richard Alpert) through his authorship of the seminal spiritual bestseller Be Here Now, decades on the lecture circuit and teaching, to his work with hospice, prison and homeless communities, and travels in India, Ram Dass lived a large and influential life with a profound influence on Western culture. This shared journey is a gift.

While I usually include a fiction title with my staff picks, the beautiful forward by Anne Lamott for this book made me feel these two made a perfect pairing. Be. Here. Now.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr5938298

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