Sande O. (Rochester, NY)
I have always found taxidermy fascinating. A little strange perhaps, but interesting. I spent 8 years in grad school at the University of Wyoming so I get the "trophy" aspect of "stuffing" animals, and I remember the museum dioramas from childhood and I've read about Victorian's fascination with personal collections is species. That being said, what motivates modern day taxidermists? Are there many left? Are they all like Norman Bates from Psycho?
Armed with these questions and a healthy curiosity, I was drawn to Melissa Milgrom's book on the subject. What I got were a lot of answers, but much more.
The author covers the gamut of these artists/technicians and along the way gives the reader insight into the field, the science, the history, the eccentricities and the politics that make up this field. There is a lot more to preserving animals than one might suppose and Milgrom takes the time to become a participant in the process as well as an observer. If you like to venture outside your comfort zone once in while, give this a try. Altogether Still Life is a riveting read.
Sharon W. (Two Rivers, WI)
This was a very interesting book and a learning experience. The book was about Taxidermy. I knew what taxidermy was but never realized how much went in to it. This is an art. The people involved in taxidermy take it very serious. They even have contests.
If you are up for a learning experience, I would definitely recommend this book.
Fred S. (san diego, CA)
I thought it was a great book. It brought back my own memories of the sights and smells of the shop which I hung out in when a boy.
Penny N. (Saginaw, MI)
Yikes! Still Life and it's stuffed
I chose this book because I knew nothing about it's subject matter except for the fact I never enjoyed the final product staring at me. Now that I have read the book I know a lot about the subject matter but feel no less of an aversion. However, this book is well written, well researched and I commend the author on her exacting work. No matter if you're fan or foe you will end up angry at taxidermy and what happened at the Smithsonian, as a man is allowed to "buy" his way to trophies. You will marvel at the extent some will go to be the best or even the most creative. Some start with road kill. What's funny is most practitioners will not "recreate" pets. Others go back to the Audubon method: he killed them, to stuff them, to draw them. If you can get past the "chill factor" this is an interesting look at life after death. By the end even the author gets into the act.
Daniel A. (Naugatuck, CT)
Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy
I was pleasantly surprised after reading this book; the last hundred pages were the best and justified my high rating. I now have a basic knowledge of the art of taxidermy just in case it ever pops up in a conversation.
Heather K. (Brooklyn, NY)
Taxidermy is Not for Sissies ...
and neither is this book! Melissa Milgrom shatters the images that taxidermists are ghoulish or perverse (but eccentric, yes, definitely, collectively ... eccentric!). She finds they admire animals intensely, and gives an exclusive look into a world of men and women who are zealous in perfecting how they preserve and display animals.
Taxidermists are beyond "dedicated": they're down-right obsessed with their art, and absolutely exacting with the science in how they achieve perfection. Why is this book not for sissies? Because the chapters on her stuffing a squirrel are excruciating to read -- in a good way! I'm all for journalistic integrity, but the book was falling flat for lack of any real involvement on the author's part. Finally our author gets her hands dirty (well, bloody) as she skins and mounts a squirrel for competition.
Milgrom does not leave out any details during this ordeal. I felt like I was standing next to her, cringing with every cut and snip! By the end of the competition, and thus the book, I felt much more satisfied with the read as whole!
Sheryl R. (DeQuincy, LA)
Unexpectedly complex and compelling
Melissa Milgrom's comprehensive book on taxidermy and its practitioners tells you more than you ever thought you'd want to know about this strange and exacting world. Milgrom immerses herself, both figuratively and literally, in the study of taxidermy and presents a complex world in which nature, art, science, biology, history, politics, sculpture, and even psychology and competition all collide and intertwine to create a compelling puzzle of a vanishing practice. Her portrayals of the institutions and individuals involved in the field are multi-faceted and show the evolution of the practice of taxidermy over time. This book will not be for everyone, but for readers who like to be surprised with learning about things they didn't know they wanted to learn (like me!), this is the book!