Mostly Dead Things

Kristen Arnett

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“Irresistible . . . This book is my song of the summer.” —Parul Seghal, New York Times

Mostly Dead Things is very Florida, very gay, and very good . . . a rock solid family novel, brightened by its eccentric milieu.” —Entertainment Weekly

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.

Featured in Vanity Fair,  New York Times, Esquire, Washington Post, Vulture, The Week, BuzzFeed, NYLON, Bustle, HuffPost, The Boston Globe, and much more.

Mostly Dead Things is one of the strangest and funniest and most surprising first novels I’ve ever read. 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!

“Precisely as strange, riotous, searing, and subversive as you’d want it to be. And, yes, its humor is as dark and glinting as the black plastic eye of a taxidermy ferret. . . . [A] celebration of the strangeness of life and love and loss.”

“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.”
—Alexander Chee, author of How To Write an Autobiographical Novel

“Filled with delightfully wry prose and bracing honesty, Arnett’s novel introduces a keenly skillful author with imagination and insight to spare.”
Publishers Weekly

“Kristen Arnett’s debut novel is a generous, delightful and eccentric portrait of family life and questionable taxidermy.”
Kelly Link, author of Get In Trouble

“It’s the kind of book that sneaks up on you, the kind you read until you realize you have to pee or that the light has left the room.”

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

Tour Schedule

  • 6/19 – Tampa, FL — University of Tampa, Vaughn Center
  • 6/21 — Baltimore, MD — Bird in Hand
  • 6/22 — Washington, DC — ALA Panel: Fiercely Female
  • 6/25 —  Lake Worth, FL — Book Cellar Book Club
  • 6/27 — Gainesville, FL — Civic Media Center
  • 7/1 — Brooklyn, NY — Greenlight Bookstore, Fort Greene
  • 7/2 — Philadelphia, PA — Black Hound Clay Studio
  • 7/8 — Nashville, TN — Parnassus Books
  • 7/16 — Iowa City, IA — Prairie Lights
  • 7/19 — Chicago, IL — Women & Children First
  • 7/22 — Portland, OR — Powell’s City of Books
  • 7/23 — Seattle, WA — Elliott Bay Book Company
  • 7/24 — San Francisco, CA — Green Apple Books on the Park
  • 7/25 — Los Angeles, CA — Skylight Books
  • 7/27 — San Diego, CA — Last Exit Reading Series
  • 8/2 — Washington, DC — OutWrite
  • 8/2 — Washington, DC — Politics & Prose
  • 8/9 — Boston, MA — Brookline Booksmith
  • 8/12 — New York, NY — Mid-Manhattan Library
  • 8/15 — Columbus, OH — Two Dollar Radio
  • 9/11 — Atlanta, GA — Write Club Atlanta
  • 9/26 — Brooklyn, NY — Books are Magic

About Kristen Arnett

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’s Letter’s 2015 Literary Award in Fiction. She’s a columnist for Literary Hub and her work has either appeared or 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. You can find her on twitter here: @Kristen_Arnett