Mostly Dead Things (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Kristen Arnett shows up to her debut novel with gloves on, already reaching in to pull all the ugly guts out into the light. She cuts close to the bone, but it's done with love rather than cruelty. She understands how painful it is to be cut open and exposed, but she pushes past the discomfort of seeing ourselves revealed in the hopes of finding whatever might be on the other side. Hers is a dark and funny slice of life you never want to end. Hot and sticky as the Florida summer, but cool and compelling even as she constantly and repeatedly pokes at the bruises of family, love, and loss. -Callie

— From Summer Booknotes 2019

June 2019 Indie Next List

“After her father commits suicide, Jessa is tasked with saving her family’s taxidermy business from going bankrupt. She also has to take care of her family’s strange problems — including her mother’s affinity for turning their taxidermy into risqué works of art. Mostly Dead Things is a fun, eccentric book with a steamy lesbian romance, ongoing sibling rivalry, and dark confessions of a family that is willing to go the mile in order to make ends meet. Stuffed with humor, heartfelt moments, and some gritty bits, Arnett’s writing will make you laugh, cry, and wonder how an author’s first novel can be so engaging and well-written!”
— Sage Cristal, UC San Diego Bookstore, La Jolla, CA


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.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781947793309
ISBN-10: 1947793306
Publisher: Tin House Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Pages: 354
Language: English