Short Review #25: Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett (2019)

Rating: 3 out of 5 ⭐️
Title: Mostly Dead Things: A Novel
Author: Kristen Arnett
Published: 2019 (Tin House Books, Portland, OR)
Pages: 356 (Hardcover)
Genres: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, LGBTQ, Adult
CW: taxidermy, death, sex, violence, suicide, bodily fluids
Link Here

My borrowed copy of Mostly Dead Things lying next to a cup of coffee

Hello, and happy Friday! I hope you all have fun things planned, or experience as much enjoyment as you can this weekend. Overall for me, this week has not been the best by any means and I’m glad it’s coming to a close, but I did have the opportunity to finish Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett. Filled with taxidermy, middle-class sweltering Florida, bizarre reconciliation and broken hearts – Mostly Dead Things is not one to disappoint. This is the first piece of writing I have read by Kristen Arnett, and for many reasons I loved her writing style.

We spent so much time looking for pieces of ourselves in other people that we never realized they were busy searching for the same things in us” – Kristen Arnett, Mostly Dead Things

The novel is told in Central Florida taxidermist Jessa-Lynn Morton’s point of view, consisting of flashbacks of her experiences and traumas. Jessa’s father has committed suicide inside their beloved family-owned taxidermist shop, and on top of that, her brother Milo’s wife, Brynn, walked out on them and her children out of the blue. Brynn was Jessa’s best friend and love of her life, and she was sleeping with Brynn behind Milo’s back. After Jessa’s mother starts making obscene sculptural art with taxidermy animals in lewd sexual positions, the family’s issues start bubbling to the surface and Jessa starts to realize something needs to change. This novel deals with major issues and then some such as grief, family crises, fitting in and accepting yourself.

Though I planned out everything, my life was somehow made up of an endless series of unwanted surprises” – Kristen Arnett, Mostly Dead Things

The characters were witty, and the story was darkly comedic and gritty. I did not absolutely love this novel, but the writing was by far the most captivating part. The language was highly descriptive of the dirty details a lot of authors will brush over, especially when it came to blood and dirt. This left a raw and vulnerable feel in Arnett’s writing, which added to the heart of the story. She’s definitely a fantastic writer, and the literary aspects of the story were directed well.

Say the word love and it’s there for you; say the word love and the other person feels it too. What I should have told him that day: love makes you an open wound, susceptible to infection. But he was young then and so was I, and I wanted their happiness more than my own” – Kristen Arnett, Mostly Dead Things

Why should you read this book? If you like LGBTQ literary dramas about taxidermists in Central Florida and you don’t mind reading about anatomical functions, this is the book for you. Definitely give this book a chance if you’re thinking of expanding your LGBTQ repertoire reading, and if you’re ready to feel quite a few emotions.

I give this a 3 out of 5!


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