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.”)
Happy first birthday to Emily Books! The Observer ran a little recap of the book club-slash-store’s lascivious first anniversary party, where Kate Zambreno and Tamara Faith Berger both read from their recent novels. Here’s the Million’s interview with Zambreno, and here’s a #LitBeat from one of Berger’s previous readings from her steamy wonder of a novel, Maidenhead.
One downside to being an internationally acclaimed author is that people care an awful lot about digging into your past. Haruki Murakami has found this out the hard way, as a librarian from Kobe High School (which Murakami attended during his younger years) has made public a list of books checked out by then-budding author. For more “Murakami meets library,” here’s a review of his own The Strange Library.
How do you describe the life and times of John Horne Burns? He was in turn a military intelligence officer, a schoolteacher, a critical darling after he published The Gallery, a pariah after he published anything else, and a gay man in post-WWII America. In characteristic concision, Ernest Hemingway summed the whole thing up thusly: “There was a fellow who wrote a fine book and then a stinking book about a prep school, and then he just blew himself up.”