Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Melissa Milgrom's Still Life: Aventures in Taxidermy
Milgrom's Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) is a lively book on a subject few of us, I imagine, think about at all. At once an informal history of taxidermy, an engaging profile of several taxidermists, English, American, and Canadian, and a candid account of her own attempt to mount a Brooklyn squirrel running along a wire, Still Life deftly engages the reader and keeps that reader turning pages. As if all that weren't enough, Milgrom gives a wonderful account of how taxidermists compete with each other and how the judges, in turn, evaluate their work (I'll say only that the genitals turn out to be very important). Is taxidermy a craft? An art? Or something that on occasion inhabits the vague boundary between the two? Reading Still Life won't give you the answers, but Milgrom will get you thinking about the question. Highly recommended.