Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy (Paperback)
Read It Again's Nonfiction Book Club July 2021 Pick— From Nonfiction Book Club
Taxidermy is everywhere these days—from hip restaurants to posh clothing stores. Yet few realize that behind these "stuffed" animals is a world of intrepid hunterexplorers, eccentric naturalists, and museum artisans, all devoted to the paradoxical pursuit of creating the illusion of life.
Into this subculture of intensely passionate animal lovers ventures journalist Melissa Milgrom, whose trek stretches from the family workshop of the last chief taxidermist for the American Museum of Natural History to the studio where an English sculptor preserves the animals for Damien Hirst’s most disturbing artwork. Milgrom tags along with a Canadian bear trapper and three-time World Taxidermy Champion as he re-creates an extinct Irish elk using DNA studies and Paleolithic cave art for reference. She even picks up a scalpel and stuffs her own squirrel. Transformed from a curious onlooker to an empathetic participant, Milgrom takes us deep into the world of taxidermy and reveals its uncanny appeal.
About the Author
MELISSA MILGROM has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Salon, the Daily Beast and Travel and Leisure, among other publications; she has also produced radio segments for NPR. She has a master's degree in American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.
"Hilarious but respectful." —Washington Post "Engrossing." —New Yorker "[A] delightful debut ... Milgrom has in Still Life opened up a whole world to readers." —Chicago Tribune "[A] literate, fascinating history." —People
"If you’re an outdoorsman, museum-goer, or a pragmatic animal lover, find this book, grab a shopping bag and stuff it." —Yankton Press & Dakotan "An absorbing tour." —Boston Globe
"Milgrom’s eye for detail and sense of humor makes Still Life an entertaining and educating look at this intriguing subculture." —Florida Times-Union "Under Milgrom’s direction, readers may find themselves more interested in – and entertained by – the world of taxidermy than they thought imaginable." —Christian Science Monitor "A delightful, illuminating journey through a passionate subculture that prizes the natural world (even if nature's inhabitants are dead when taxidermists work their magic on them)." —Shelf Awareness
"...Milgrom's lively account will appeal to readerswho enjoyed Mary Roach's quirky science books..." --Library Journal An "absorbing blend of bright-eyed reportage and hands-on participation...a genuine appreciation for a true art form, an enthusiasm the author imparts with style in this substantial study." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) —