The Art of Taxidermy is an evocative, effervescent and eviscerating short story, following the journey of a plucky young girl who confronts grief and sexism head on.
Australian author, Sharon Kernot, introduces the reader to bottlebrush trees whose “fallen flowers created perfect red circles like pools of blood.” These and other trees and natural landscapes provide the backdrop for a series of unfortunate creatures which become the focus for young Lottie’s growing obsession with death. Yet before her preservation skills can develop, her collections have an unfortunate habit of stinking out her bedroom.
“Taxidermist? I tried this new word, rolled it around in my mind and my mouth.”
The lyrical prose is written without speech marks, and is a fast-paced and moving read. Most readers will devour the book in about an hour, and I wished it were longer. But be warned, the words and emotions will linger long after, and a second reading will beckon.
“We studied the birds: sparrows, galahs, magpies. We watched the way they moved – their waddle, their flit, their hope, the stretch of their wings and the way they cocked their heads. I thought of my mangled lorikeet. It is a raggedy bird full of dead cotton.”
At its heart this is a hopeful and powerful story about dealing with grief by celebrating the beauty of death.
The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot will be published by The Text Publishing Company in August 2019.