Strange Animals: A Novel
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A thought-provoking and darkly witty novel about freedom, motherhood, greed, and religion—a surprising new direction from the controversial author of Men, Women & Children and The Average American Male.
Chad Kultgen has established himself as one of the most honest and candid chroniclers of human relationships working today. Now, in an eye-opening departure, he turns his gaze on the collision between religious values and human freedoms in American society.
She found herself thinking how strange it was that although we are all animals with roughly the same mental capacity—and roughly the same access to information, both general and specific—we can come to such radically different conclusions about the nature of reality. She wondered if it would always be like this, or if at some point in the future a general knowledge base would be accepted by the whole of humanity on which every individual would base their view of existence. She hoped this would be the case and wished she could live to see it.
Karen Halloway is a philosophy PhD candidate, struggling to find a dissertation topic strong enough to make a mark on the world. When she discovers that she’s pregnant, she finds herself at a crossroads: she has always known that she doesn’t want to be a mother, and feels her only choice is to have an abortion, though she knows that both her boyfriend and her highly religious best friend will object. Yet on the way to the clinic, Karen has the epiphany she’s been looking for—a way to turn her unexpected situation to her advantage.
Fiendishly suspenseful, intellectually provocative, Strange Animals is a surprising novel about freedom, choice, and desperate measures.
having dark hair like her and Paul. She imagined him growing up to be of average height and build, wearing glasses. She thought he might have longish hair, curly, that would suggest a sense of happiness, a carefree attitude. And it was as this thought, about the psychological well-being of her unborn child, crept into her mind that she forced herself to stop thinking about it. She could let herself indulge in the idea of what this child might look like, but once she started imagining what type of
“No. Not yet.” “I appreciate that you’ve waited until you talked to me about it.” “Well, it wasn’t just you. I told my boyfriend about it, too. I understand that this will affect more than just me.” “It’s none of my business, really, but is he the father?” “Yeah.” “And what did he say about it?” “He’s still thinking about it. Look, Professor, I think this is important. This is what we were talking about—doing something that actually makes people think differently instead of just writing
and the thirst out of his mind and he sat. James closed his eyes so he wouldn’t be distracted by the sight of anything, and he thought about what God must have been doing in heaven at that moment. In his mind’s eye, James saw God sitting on his gleaming golden throne, looking down through the clouds. God was watching him and deciding whether he was ready to be spoken to. James imagined Jesus there, too, at his father’s side. He thought that, although God spoke to different people all the time,
right. She did find a few prominent articles, however, that praised Karen’s project as the event that the pro-choice movement was waiting for but had never had the guts or creativity to do for itself. These were the articles that gave Karen hope that what she was doing was making a difference, was changing people’s minds, was forcing them to talk about this in a philosophical context rather than just the usual right-wing brainless screaming from a pulpit. One article equated what Karen was doing
with whom the site had matched him. He felt that God would not simply place his wife in front of him. He had to show God that he was ready for her and that he was willing to work in order to get her. God had to know that he was deserving of such a blessing. In the first six months James was active on the site, he sent a standard cut-and-paste message to every woman he felt was a good match for him. It read: “Hello. My name is James Dobbs. I haven’t been on this site for very long, but after