One morning, Jessa-Lynn Morton walks into the family taxidermy shop to find that her father has committed suicide, right there on one of the metal tables. Shocked and grieving, Jessa steps up to manage the failing business, while the rest of the Morton family crumbles. Her mother starts sneaking into the shop to make aggressively lewd art with the taxidermied animals. Her brother Milo withdraws, struggling to function. And Brynn, Milo's wife―and the only person Jessa's ever been in love with―walks out without a word.
As Jessa seeks out less-than-legal ways of generating income, her mother's art escalates―picture a figure of her dead husband and a stuffed buffalo in an uncomfortably sexual pose―and the Mortons reach a tipping point. For the first time, Jessa has no choice but to learn who these people truly are, and ultimately how she fits alongside them.
Kristen Arnett's debut novel is a darkly funny, heart-wrenching, and eccentric look at loss and love.
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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.
Jesse Vilinsky is a classically trained actress and voice actor, having graduated from the USC School of Dramatic Arts and BADA in London. She has lent her voice to numerous film and television projects and has worked on various video games, animation, and commercial projects as well. As a narrator, Jesse has garnered recognition in AudioFile magazine for her expertly voiced characters and ability to bring forth the strength and truth of their stories.
"Mostly Dead Things is one of the strangest and funniest and most surprising first novels I've ever read."-- "Karen Russell, New York Times bestselling author"
"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."-- "Publishers Weekly"
"Kristen Arnett is the queen of the Florida no one has ever told you about, and on every page she brings it to a steely and vivid life."-- "Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel"
"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."-- "New York Times"
"Hilarious, deeply morbid, and full of heart."-- "BuzzFeed"
"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."-- "Nylon"
"Arnett brings all of Florida's strangeness to life through the lens of a family snowed under with grief."-- "Kirkus Reviews"