Mostly Dead Things
The celebrated New York Times Bestseller
A Best Book of the Year pick at theNew York Times, NPR, The New Yorker, TIME, Washington Post, Oprahmag.com, Thrillist, Shelf Awareness, Good Housekeeping and more.
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About the Author
Kristen Arnett is a queer fiction and essay writer. She won the 2017 Coil Book Award for her debut short fiction collection, Felt in the Jaw, and was awarded Ninth Letter's 2015 Literary Award in Fiction. She's a columnist for Literary Hub, and her work has either appeared or is upcoming in North American Review, the Normal School, Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, Guernica, Electric Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Bennington Review, Tin House Flash Fridays / The Guardian, Salon, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.
Arnett possesses all the bravery her characters dream of. There's none of the shyness and self-consciousness of so much American fiction that masks itself as austerity. She writes comic set pieces to make you laugh, sex scenes to turn you on. The action flips from the past to the present, swimming through first love and first grief on a slick of red Kool-Aid and vodka, suntan oil and fruity lip gloss, easy and unforced. This book is my song of the summer.--Parul Sehgal
It's darkly funny, both macabre and irreverent, and its narrator is so real that every time I stopped reading the book, I felt a tiny pull at the back of my mind, as if I'd left a good friend in the middle of a conversation.
It's the kind of book that sneaks up on you, the kind you read until you realize you have to pee or that the light has left the room. Her writing is accessible and feels like reading a thought from your own brain you weren't aware of thinking, tapping into experiences of adulthood and gayness and longing that you might think you were the only one to have.
The writing is subtle and meditative, with the tactile weight of dense fur . . . taxidermy can, Arnett argues, bring us closer to life . . . . Arnett, transposing the metaphor out of the horror genre, closes the distance between viewer and viewed. She takes taxidermy seriously as a craft, not just as a device; she makes it real and intimate . . . it gives readers a fresh way to think about fiction itself, which lives, or half lives, on the rippling cusp of the real.
Arnett depicts the Morton family's struggles with tenderness and humanity, as well as streaks of deliciously black humor. Far more than just a book-length Florida Man story, Mostly Dead Things broke our hearts in the best possible way.
"More than about death, it is also a novel about intimacy and wanting what is forbidden, about childhood and family, about absent parents and absent lovers, and about the secondhand self-destruction that can be wrought by ignoring cries of the heart."
Precisely as strange, riotous, searing, and subversive as you'd want it to be. And, yes, its humor is as dark and glinting as the black plastic eye of a taxidermy ferret. . . . [A] celebration of the strangeness of life and love and loss, all of it as murky as a Florida swamp but beautiful in its wildness.
Set in a richly rendered Florida and filled with delightfully wry prose and bracing honesty, Arnett's novel introduces a keenly skillful author with imagination and insight to spare.
Arnett is a talented and original writer, and everybody paying attention to her work will be eagerly awaiting whatever else she has in store.
Hilarious, deeply morbid, and full of heart.
This slice of Sunshine State gothic has instant classic written all over it. Everything you find both weird and beautiful about Florida has been packaged up and turned into one of this year's best debut novels.
An ambitious debut writer with extraordinary promise, Arnett brings all of Florida's strangeness to life through the lens of a family snowed under with grief.
An incisive and peculiar study of grief. ... Arnett writes about how we have to overcome our first understanding of the world in order to process it as an adult. She uses the language of taxidermy to explore the memories that ripple beneath our longest held beliefs.
A worthy addition to the new Florida canon: a highly engrossing, extremely promising, sad, and very funny first novel about sex and death.
Mostly Dead Things is very Florida, very gay, and very good... a rock-solid family novel, brightened by its eccentric milieu.
Mostly Dead Things suggests, above all else, that love is not something to be conquered, killed, skinned and mounted. It is living, and a verb. What we do for love -- be it build erotic buffalo sculptures in grief-stricken homage, steal peacocks, raise someone else's children, collect roadkill -- is so much more powerful than what we think about it.
Mostly Dead Things is a phenomenal novel about family, taxidermy, and queerness. You'll devour this bizarre, brilliant book.
Mostly Dead Things is one of the strangest and funniest and most surprising first novels I've ever read. A love letter to Florida and to family, to half-lit swamps and the 7/11, and to the beasts that only pretend to hold their poses inside us. In Kristen Arnett's expert hands, taxidermy becomes a language to capture our species' impossible and contradictory desire to be held and to be free.--Karen Russell, author of SWAMPLANDIA!
Mostly Dead Things packs messed-up families, scandalous love affairs, art, life, death and the great state of Florida into one delicious, darkly funny package. Kristen Arnett is wickedly talented and a wholly original voice--Jami Attenberg, author of ALL GROWN UP