Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett

Mostly Dead Things

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—...

Details Mostly Dead Things

TitleMostly Dead Things
Release DateJun 4th, 2019
PublisherTin House Books
GenreFiction, LGBT, Contemporary, GLBT, Queer

Reviews Mostly Dead Things

  • Roxane
    I really enjoyed this novel. The physicality of it is impressive. Every aspect of living is splayed out--the smells, tastes, textures of human bodies interacting without human bodies. At the heart of it is a brother and sister, in love with the same woman who leaves them both to pick up the pieces of their lives. This family is so tenderly, humanely rendered. There is so much heart here without too much sentimentality. Jessa is an infuriating pro...
  • Marchpane
    Despite the neon bright cover that screams ‘Quirky! Funny!’, Mostly Dead Things is Mostly about Sad People, and I didn’t find much mirth in this debut (maybe a sardonic undercurrent, at best). Instead, this is quite a dark story about a family of grieving, emotionally damaged people. The narrator, Jessa, has only ever loved one woman, Brynn, but Brynn chose the more conventional life of marriage and babies offered by Jessa’s brother Mil...
  • Christopher Alonso
    This is one of the strangest books I've ever read, and it was fantastic. Florida can be weird, and Kristen Arnett was like, "hold my beer," and created a wacky, gut-punching gem of a book. It's a reminder that families are always changing, families can be flawed, and that learning to be vulnerable is such a huge act in itself. Plus, this book is very gay.
  • Julie Ehlers
    It would have saved us all a lot of time and exasperation if the author of Mostly Dead Things had just included a note at the front of the book:Dear reader, please note that the family in this book is grieving and they have let things go a bit. Therefore, whenever any kind of household item is mentioned, please assume it is dusty, dirty, sticky, and/or broken. Whenever anyone has a runny nose or dirty hands, please assume they wipe them off on th...
  • Julia
    This fucked me up spectacularly. I was simultaneously on the verge of tears, nauseated, and couldn’t put it down. What a great novel. Jesus.
  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    Find all of my reviews at: “Why not try something different instead of the same old shit that’s been making us miserable our whole lives?” “I haven’t been miserable my whole life!” “Really? I’ve been pretty miserable.” Mostly Dead Things was brought to my attention a couple of months ago via way of a recommendation by my friend Mindy. To her I say . . . . The jumping off point to this story i...
  • Meg Gee
    Phenomenal. Queer Ladies + Taxidermy + Complex Familial Relationships + A Small Town = a meteor to the gut. Read it, k bye.
  • David
    Reading this book was a lot like riding a merry-go-round: I was entertained and mildly fascinated by the unusual scenery until it became obvious that all we were really doing was riding through the same fixed territory again and again and again. I was thinking this could even be a 4-star read for the first third or so, but then found myself tossing away quarter- and half-stars as the circular path became less meaningful.Plenty has already been sa...
  • Thomas
    Quite the queer novel! I loved the queerness of Mostly Dead Things, its eccentricity, its bi representation, and its messy, complicated associations between dead animals and human relationships and sexuality and grief. There’s a raw physicality to this novel that will resonate with those who appreciate language that appeals to the senses, like textures, scents, and motions like breaking into something with your hands or peeling something apart ...
  • Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestI was trying to project, "I swear I'm not a psycho" vibes to the people side-eying me for reading this book, even though the title was basically 99% of the reason behind why I applied for this in the first place. MOSTLY DEAD THINGS is a book chock-full of dark humor, and is definitely not for the faint of heart. I thought Carl Hiaasen had the market cornered on the unique brand of Floridian-s...
  • Ace
    Mostly Dead Things, mostly disgusting, dirty and funky, mostly too icky for me, but... it was an interesting look into the world of taxidermy. The excessive funky descriptions wrapped around all the love and grief didn't quite work for me. I felt very distant from all of these characters, or perhaps it was that I distanced myself from them. If it wasn't for a group read, I would have given up on this at several different stages along the way.
  • Trudie
    2.5 Well, the cover is lovely. If only Flamingoes frolicking on a page unblemished by food stains, dust or gore was truly representative of the reading experience. Where is the sexy Cicada ?, the trio of Peacocks ? or even one of those dioramas involving goats in compromising positions ? I have never been to Florida or even know that much about the state but in this novel Florida is essentially the main character. It is one of the strengths of th...
  • Borce
    Received this arc from my local bookstore. After reading some reviews I was very excited to read this “strange” & “funny” book. I’m sorry to say I was greatly let down. The only, slightly strange aspect of the book is that it revolves around taxidermy, which in it of itself isn’t that strange. As far as reality based books go the strangeness level was set to 1. The characters were all so self loathing it was hard to care about any of ...
  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    This story was just too relentlessly sad. The characters are all filthy, depressed, and passive-aggressive. They are grieving the death of their father and abandonment by a former lover. My biggest issue with the book is the lack of finesse. The reader is constantly hit over the head with repeated scenes that show just how sad and disgusting everything is. Yes - I got it! And the narrator’s incessant pining over her former lover without realizi...
  • Dan
    3.5 stars. Guts and gore, guts and gore. Not convinced that it's all necessary or contributes. But a compelling read nonetheless.
  • Coreena McBurnie
    This is a book that, after reading the blurb, I really wanted to love; however, I didn’t. It was fine. It was funny at times. It was strange. I’m good with strange, but there was something about this book that just didn’t resonate with me.Partly, I think, I just didn’t love the main character, Jessa, until nearly the end of the book. I found her character tedious at times and I just wanted to shake her. I couldn’t get into the strange r...
  • Doug
    3.5, rounded up.It's no surprise to find Karen Russell blurbing her enthusiasm for this debut novel on the book jacket, since it kept reminding me (a LOT), in both style and subject, of Russell's own Swamplandia!, which I actually didn't much care for - at least not as much as I did this. Both concern quirky Florida families, in Russell's tome a family of professional alligator wrestlers, and here, an equally funky family of taxidermists. Althoug...
  • Katie Long
    This isn’t a bad book, but it’s an ugly one. Not only is everything here dirty, smelly, complicated, and repressed, Arnett uses some of the ugliest sounding words and similes to describe how gross everything is. It’s clearly intentional, and certainly not without skill, but do you really want to spend 300 odd pages in this muck? I’ll ponder that while I take a very long, hot shower.
  • Aerin
    These butterflies are set in rows.So small and gray inside their caseThey look alike now. I supposeDeath makes most creatures commonplace.- from "Guide to the Other Gallery," by Dana Gioia, collected in Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New FormalismIt's always interesting when two very different books I'm reading seem to comment on each other, and this passage is perfect for Kristen Arnett's debut - a novel about preserving the dead, about forcing ...
  • Christopher
    I’m beginning to realize that I need to start expecting less out of really hyped debut novels. They are very rarely the literary coming of Jesus the blurbs on the back cover proclaim them to be. Character motivations are pretty unbelievable in this one, even when explored in relentless detail. Narrative thrust is almost nonexistent. The novel really shines in its biting humor and portrayal of the strange and macabre world of taxidermy (even if ...
  • Erin Glover
    Sewing up eviscerated dead animals is how Jessa represses her feelings. This love story, where a sister and brother share the same woman, is told in wonderfully concise and vivid language through the blood and guts inherent in taxidermy.We were a family of taxidermists...We were collectors, dismantlers, and artisans. We pieced together life from the remnants of death. ...Our heart was in the curve of a well rendered lip smoothed over painted teet...
  • Nicky
  • Rachel León
    I loved this weird novel.
  • Elissa Washuta
    I haven't eaten Taco Bell in years--celiac disease--but I used to go for lunch during high school and get 3 regular hard-shelled tacos and, if I had enough money, a Choco Taco. I will never forget the taste and the texture of any of them. I have forgotten a lot of things. I don't even know where years of my life went. This book is not like three Taco Bell regular tacos and a Choco Taco though. This book is actually amazing. I will remember it for...
  • Kasa Cotugno
    It was ok, but I struggled. It may have just been a question of bad timing, and I may try it again another time.
  • Robert Sheard
    I've read a lot of books this year–more than I've ever read in a year before. And within that large range, this one is fine. But that's about all I can really say. It's fine–not great, not bad. I think that's okay, though. It's quirky, has way more in it about taxidermy than I cared to learn, and once in a while, was funny.
  • Claire
    It took me a long time to read this, and I really wanted to like it more than I did. It excels as a Floridian novel, one that brings that very particular place alive. But unfortunately, in spite of being dark and visceral (things I usually love) the rest was just off the mark for me. I liked what I read, but felt there were too many missed opportunities to make this something exceptional.
  • Katie
    Good, but not great. I thought it was about a hundred pages too long. It started off very strong, but meandered throughout the middle. Still, a quirky look at loss, grief, and what it takes to final let go. Plus, Florida!
  • Allison
    Could have been shorter because it got a bit repetitive at times. But I loved the characters, even Jessa in her most unlikeable moments, and Kristen Arnett is a fabulous writer.
  • Joanna
    “Her skin was pasty and damp from the alcohol she was still sweating off. She smelled like her fruity perfume and the very strong odor of her body, which curdled the edges of my heart. Everything inside me cooked at a low boil.”“Mostly Dead Things” is a story about a family that doesn’t talk about their issues, and they have a lot of issues. We’re introduced to the Mortons through Jessa-Lynn, our narrator, a worn-down but stubborn wom...