Tiffany's Reviews > Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy

Still Life by Melissa Milgrom
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's review
Apr 11, 2011

really liked it
Read from April 11 to 15, 2011

Right, so ... taxidermy. Why pick up a book on taxidermy, of all subjects? I'll read just about anything, frankly, and when I saw this book on the New book shelf at the library, I remembered that I'd also wanted to read "Stiff" by Mary Roach (who I've also recently read) and never got around to it. So I picked up "Still Life," and I was very pleasantly surprised through the entire course of the book. While Milgrom goes out of her way to clarify how taxidermists feel about themselves (conflicted, but they generally feel that they're artists), she doesn't shy away from her own ambivalent feelings about the subject she chose for her book. Is taxidermy creepy? Undoubtedly. Is it science? Sometimes, but not always. Is it misunderstood? You bet (well, sometimes). I enjoyed reading about the historical aspects of taxidermy and natural history, and I intend to start paying a lot more attention to dioramas when I visit natural history museums (I usually skip them altogether). As a biologist I've always prided myself on my strong stomach, and I proved that to myself again by reading Milgrom's graphic (but not too graphic) chapter on mounting a squirrel while I was simultaneously eating an In N Out burger. Unfortunately I have a very strong smell memory, and I know what it's like to handle rotting animals. Seriously. Gross. But I made it most of the way through that burger. Anyway, I'd definitely read more of Milgrom's work - she conjures the mixture of fact and anecdote that I especially enjoy in works of nonfiction.

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