Depressed taxidermist Jessa-Lynn tries to be her family’s source of reason, only to repeatedly come up against her own emotional demons and her family’s eccentricities. Mostly Dead Things is absolutely fabulous: a quintessential Floridian novel, riotously strange and discomfiting, and at the same time deeply human. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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.
“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!
“If Heather Lewis and Joy Williams had a child it might be this ― I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel like it. There’s a gunslinger cool to every sentence, like someone is telling you the last story they’ll ever tell you. 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
“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
“Kristen Arnett has written a portrait of an American family grieving their dead and their living, and lovingly tearing one another to shreds in the process. Too, this is a book about salvaging, about the Mortons’ refusal to abandon what remains, to be buoys and coconspirators for one another’s hearts. Mostly Dead Things is a vicious and tender beast, alive with wry humor and the undeniable beauty of the ways we love.” Danielle Lazarin, author of Back Talk
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 at North American Review, The Normal School, Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, Guernica, Electric Literature, Volume 1 Brooklyn, Bennington Review, Tin House Flash Fridays/The Guardian, Salon, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.
Kristen Arnett on PowellsBooks.Blog
Kristen Arnett is many things — one of Book Twitter's funniest writers; a librarian in Orlando, Florida; a columnist for LitHub; a short story author; and a 7-Eleven scholar™ (according to her Twitter bio). Now she can add "novelist" to the list...