Kristen Arnett with Richard Chiem
High praise has greeted the publication of Kristen Arnett’s rollicking debut novel, Mostly Dead Things (Tin House). “... Kristen Arnett’s Mostly Dead Things, an irresistible first novel set in the hard sunshine and “juicy green” of Central Florida, featuring a family of taxidermists, suicides and ruthless intimacies. A clan after Diane Arbus’s very heart … Arnett possesses all the bravery her characters dream of. There’s none of the shyness and self-consciousness of so much American fiction that masks itself as austerity. She writes comic set pieces to make you laugh, sex scenes to turn you on. The action flips from the past to the present, swimming through first love and first grief on a slick of red Kool-Aid and vodka, suntan oil and fruity lip gloss, easy and unforced. This book is my song of the summer … Subtly, unmistakably a beautiful lineage is suggested in these echoes of the great heroines of American literature — so many tomboys, so many queer women. Their shadows flicker, trailing between the alligator jaws and deer hooves and peacock feathers in this book of inheritances, this cabinet of wonders.” - Parul Sehgal, The New York Times.
“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.
With Kristen Arnett for this evening will be Seattle fiction writer Richard Chiem, he the author of the recent novel, King of Joy. This should be fun.