Anjuli Raza Kolb reviews Rachel Poliquin’s The Breathless Zoo, which “tracks the history of whole animal and animal specimen preservation, particularly taxidermy, which refers to the stretching and mounting of the skins of vertebrates, from the seventeenth-century European explorers to the present, with a heavy focus on Victorian practitioners and collectors.” No word on whether or not Poliquin remarks on this curious Danish Facebook group of terrible taxidermy. (Bonus: Caitlin Horrocks’s new story on FiveChapters, “The Lion of Gripsholm – Part Four: IV. The Taxidermist.”)
“I live a life of appetite and, yes, that’s right, / I live a life of privilege in New York, / Eating buttered toast in bed with cunty fingers on Sunday morning. / Say that again? / I have a rule— / I never give to beggars in the street who hold their hands out.” Frederick Siedel’s brusqueness makes many readers uncomfortable, yet many others revere him for his “brave cunning.” Whichever side of the fence you fall on, this is an interesting take from Don Chiasson at The New Yorker.
Our own Emily Mandel may have been onto something with her “catastrophic” summer reading list; dystopia seems to be all the rage this summer. The WSJ sets Rick Moody’s The Four Fingers of Death in “a dystopian United States that is halfway between Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano and Woody Allen’s Sleeper.” The SF Chron calls Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story “literature’s first dystopian epistolary romantic satire.” And later this year, as we noted this month, will be Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez, which focuses on a cultish community in the dystopian aftermath of a flu pandemic.
Haruki Murakami’s love for jazz is no secret – he used to own a jazz bar, he’s written full essay collections on the music, and his books are peppered with references to jazz songs and musicians. How fitting, then, that there’s finally a playlist of jazz songs mentioned in Murakami’s writings. Pair with our many past essays on Murakami.