Large Animals By Jess Arndt

I did not vibe with this at all so I'm not going to rate it. I wanna support queer voices and, if the stories are written chronologically, then Arndt's potential could possibly grow into something quite great which is hopeful (I can still be hopeful when writing reviews). If they're not, er, some speak to me more than others.

The writing felt somewhat rookie, in the (annoying) way that there was a mediocre adjective attached to every verb. I felt a difference in how comfortable the stories were unfolding, between the first, middle and last piece in this collection. The adjectives being used caught a certain flare that felt deliberate and effective in working with the tone of the scene. The tone of which usually involved alcohol and probably good haircuts too. I got tired of that quick.

The writing was very unclear to me. There wasn't much clarity in the line between fiction and/or if it was a personal. This line can be worked with of course but the voices felt repetitive in all the stories, and I didn't connect with them at any point.

There was one occasion where the queerness and the sense of bodies having such an important role in the stories, linked up really nicely. I'm not sure what kind of queerness I felt it was (or I was in response to this). Perhaps something about how bodies are held in queer spaces (or in each individual or relevant queer mind) as more than just holding us up, but filled with tales, traumas, hopes, expression, so much self being upheld in these forms of ours.

Someone said something about Kafka in a review somewhere and I don't recall being that into Kafka either. But if this was because of a large animal in the title story and said insect showing up, then i guess they were spot on.

Glad to have read it. Curious how to constructively write poor reviews or read constructively despite not liking it. Review coins to be gained here. Queer book club appreciation regardless. 9781936787487 I wanted to really like this book but a lot of the content escaped me. I found this along with a laundry list of must read books and while I enjoyed the writing, a lot of the short stories didn't connect. I'll read a novel by Jess Arndt but a short story collection is not the ideal showcase for an author. One or two short stories might connect but others will be wasted on readers. I have this pegged at 3.5 which seems to be the current tracking on Goodreads. I hope Jess Arndt brings out a novel worthy of her talents as this book only touches the tip of the iceberg, there is talent to be found here but not enough to recommend this as one of the must read books of its year. 9781936787487 So good! A lot of flowing through forms of physicality, but it always felt rooted, I dunno, very wakeful. Also extremely funny. 9781936787487 DNF page 65. This is a book written by someone more concerned about indulging their own weirdness than making art or statements about gender, sex, and bodies. Large Animals is esoteric in the worst way. The stories are inscrutable and aren't pleasurable to read. Any writer who uses adjectives like olympically and shittily needs to work on their craft, and the fact that prominent queer writers blurbed this book says more about the author's ability to network and make connections than the care and consideration she gives her writing. Skip this book. 9781936787487 3/5

At moments, this book is so excellent. Jess Arndt has some of the wildest turns of phrases and the most bold, bizarre imagery. The way they use metaphor to describe even simple moments is just delightful. But here lies the problem for me. Sometimes, the heavy metaphor and descriptions that are so detached from reality left me scrabbling for any grasp of sense and narrative. At times I felt unmoored. I really struggled to stay in the book because I just couldn’t anchor myself to anything. Perhaps these whispy, dream-like stupor of short stories were intentionally so, but if that’s true, I don’t think it worked.

I’ll definitely come back to this book, as a writer, to revel in the way Jess Arndt uses language. But I doubt I’ll be coming back for the stories.


A Buzzfeed Best Fiction Book of 2017 • An Entropy magazine Best Book of 2017

“Jess Arndt’s Large Animals is wildly original, even as it joins in with the classics of loaded, outlaw literature. Acerbic, ecstatic, hilarious, psychedelic, and affecting in turn, this is an electric debut.” ―Maggie Nelson, National Book Critics Circle Award–winning author of The Argonauts

Jess Arndt's striking debut collection confronts what it means to have a body. Boldly straddling the line between the imagined and the real, the masculine and the feminine, the knowable and the impossible, these twelve stories are an exhilarating and profoundly original expression of voice. In “Jeff,” Lily Tomlin confuses Jess for Jeff, instigating a dark and hilarious identity crisis. In “Together,” a couple battles a mysterious STD that slowly undoes their relationship, while outside a ferocious weed colonizes their urban garden. And in “Contrails,” a character on the precipice of a seismic change goes on a tour of past lovers, confronting their own reluctance to move on.

Arndt’s subjects are canny observers even while they remain dangerously blind to their own truest impulses. Often unnamed, these narrators challenge the limits of language―collectively, their voices create a transgressive new formal space that makes room for the queer, the nonconforming, the undefined. And yet, while they crave connection, love, and understanding, they are constantly at risk of destroying themselves. Large Animals pitches toward the heart, pushing at all our most tender parts―our sex organs, our geography, our words, and the tendons and nerves of our culture. Large Animals

I heard a lot of hype about Jess Arndt’s collection of short stories, Large Animals, that centers the body, and was excited for its arrival. It did everything that was promised—but turned out just not to really be my thing.

Arndt’s collection confronts the weirdness of having a body. Arndt digs into gender dysphoria, into illness and parasites, into transness, queerness, and the struggles of being a biological being in our world. The characters speak with an ambiguity that allows queerness to flourish in a formal way, in a way that refuses to be binary and avoids labels. All those are good things, and they’re why I pushed through this collection to the end. In some of her stories, that ambiguity and centering of the body results in absurd and darkly almost-funny tales. My favorite was “Together,” where a parasite haunting a couple mirrors their slow falling apart, the main character’s self-destructive tendencies flowing to the front of their struggles. But I also really appreciated “Moon Colonies,” where a gambler hits it big in Atlantic City; “Containers,” a short story that packed tons of great social commentary into just a few short pages; and “Large Animals,” where the main character sees “walri” in their room at night.

This collection was an “It’s not you, it’s me,” problem. From the first few pages, I knew I’d delved into a kind of story that I recognized and didn’t personally like: the semi-vulgar bodily tale of sex and failings where the main tone is some sort of shame or confusion, and where the language is heavily pretentious (not necessarily in a bad way). There’s nothing wrong with those, and I would also say that Large Animals was obviously going to have the explicit descriptions and bodily absurdity, and I was ready for that—but I find stories with that heavy secondhand embarrassment, that physical and emotional shame, difficult and unenjoyable to read. Maybe the point is for me to feel uncomfortable, but it’s never been a kind of story that I’ve wanted to read, and so I found some of these stories hard to get through and enjoy. 9781936787487 Full disclosure: I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

This was ... interesting. It's pretty straight up literary fiction, which is usually not my reading material of choice. So there are probably all kinds of subtleties and whatnot that escaped me. This is a short story collection, more character studies and mood pieces than tightly-plotted thrillers. It kept reminding me of William S. Burroughs, not necessarily in terms of subject matter, but just that sense of reading jewel-like fragments and hallucinatory colors. There's a sense of heat and humidity to these stories. Arndt's characters seem restless, outsiders, uncomfortable in their own skins--at least some of them are transgender, in fact. Reading these stories felt like poking my brain with a stick, but not in a bad way. Whether you like this book or not, it will mess with your perception of reality. Don't say I didn't warn you ... 9781936787487 I really expected to like this more than I did, with central topics like identity, gender, bodies. There are blurbs on the back from many authors I like - Maggie Nelson, Michelle Tea, Justin Torres. I do struggle with short stories, so your mileage may vary. I'd like to read the next work by this author and see where it goes.

But hooray, I read a book on my shelves! 9781936787487 there's this kind of overblown awkward/itchy/inherently uncomfortable with being alive narrator that i associate with some 19th c ppl i dunno like dostoevsky's underground man or some gogol or like some french guys too and then again a mid-20th c donald barthelme type thing that has just recently been revived in a particular timely/queer way, and i really got that in these stories! god i love that amy sillman cover and honestly the acknowledgments were just like a collective of all my favorite people. i really felt for these narrators, and their extreme desire to connect combined with maybe even more extreme revulsion and fear of connecting. there was a kind of pervasive body hatred/horror that sometimes spilled over into feeling actually misogynistic to me in a way i couldn't quite put my finger on? but honestly i think that feeling was just misreading on my part and something that might be fruitful for me to revisit because there was also a kind of overall narrative empathy or gentleness even holding these self-shaming narrators. 9781936787487 I loved this. It was so funny and so strange and so brilliant and intense. Highly recommend. 9781936787487


Summary Large Animals