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Lessons in Taxidermyby Bee Lavender
Synopses & Reviews
Diagnosed with cancer at age twelve and perilously pregnant at eighteen, surviving surgeries and violent accidents: Sometimes you can't believe Bee Lavender is still alive; sometimes you think nothing could kill her. Lessons in Taxidermy is Lavender's fierce and expressive search for truth and an elusive sense of safety. This autobiographical tale is stark and resolved, but strangely euphoric, tying together moments and memories into a frantic, delicate, and often transcendently funny account of anguish and confusion, pain and poverty, isolation and illusion. While staying conscious of the particulars of her circumstances, Lavender frames her life in the context of history, traveling, landscape, and freak show culture. Lessons in Taxidermy is apocryphal, troubling, cathartic, and important.
"Lavender, writer and online publisher of the parenting zine Hip Mama, holds nothing back as she recounts her life spent in and out of hospitals and her subsequent dissociation from her own body and emotions. She struggles with health problems from birth, which are compounded by her surroundings, including frequent encounters with street fights, domestic violence and poverty. Her voice is as strong as the front she puts up for the multitude of doctors she sees, and it's hard not to be in awe of what one fragile human being can withstand in the course of such a short lifetime (Lavender is now 35). Before Lavender has graduated from high school, she's endured cancer of the throat and skin (diagnosed as terminal at one point), cysts requiring massive jaw surgery, life-threatening allergies, internal infections and a major car accident resulting in multiple serious injuries. While Lavender herself steers far from any sort of self-aggrandizing, and her prose is somewhat inexpert, witnessing her strength and sheer determination to live makes this striking book completely engrossing. When questioned once about how she sees herself, Lavender explains, 'primary identity is found in my body, in the scars, in the injuries and injustice and disease and decay.' Lavender's struggles continue as she faces childbirth and recurrent health difficulties, but as her challenges grow, so does her strength to meet them, and this unforgettable memoir ends with Lavender's desire to 'live as much as possible while I have the time.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[One of] the reigning mother superiors of the crowd [is] Bee Lavender." Time Magazine
"Bee's scrupulous, non-histrionic style is thrilling; it allows for some devastating emotional moments because the author comes by them honestly." Ayun Halliday, author of No Touch Monkey
"Bee Lavender is a fantastic writer. Her work is deep and personal and I don't think there are any places she's scared to go." Michelle Tea, author of The Chelsea Whistle
"Stunning: oblique yet heart-wrenching details." Bitch Magazine: Feminist Response to Pop Culture
A riveting tale of sickness and survival from the first female author on the Punk Planet Books imprint that brought you the indie hit Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno.
A riveting memoir of sickness and survival from Punk Planet Books!
About the Author
Bee Lavender is a writer, editor, publisher, and activist. After living in the Pacific Northwest for thirty-three years she moved to England, where her office is a canal boat moored on the River Cam. Her previous books include the anthologies Breeder (Seal Press, 2001) and Mamaphonic (Soft Skull Press, 2004). More information about Bee is available on her website, www.foment.net.
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