Book Review: “Crap Taxidermy: cringe-worthy and morbid…but in a good way.”

I wasn’t particularly looking for a holiday themed book this month when I chose “Crap Taxidermy” by Kat Su from the Blogging For Books Website. Yet, once I recieved “Crap Taxidermy,” I soon realized I could not have picked a better book to go along with the creepy, scary, disturbing, and horror inducing feelings that October’s crowning event seeks to produce.

I am, of course, referencing Halloween, and believe me, if any trick-or-treater showed up at my door in anything inspired by the images in “Crap Taxidermy,” I’d be afraid…very afriad.

“Crap Taxidermy” is a book that was originally a Tumblr, a phenomenon that I have yet to have qualms with. After all, this transition of media from the cyberspace to the physical space in book form gave us the hilarious and brilliant “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh. But it is important to note that this book is based on Web site crappytaxidermy.com and NOT the site craptaxidermy.com, whose author also wrote a book about the best of @CrapTaxidermy…persumably to ride on the coat tails of Kat Su’s blog (originally began in 2009). Either way, I had no idea that bad taxidermy had such a following.

Kat Su seems to be a reluctant author with no particular strength in taxidermy science (currently an activewear designer in New York).But Su covers the basics to orient someone who knows absolutely nothing about it (me). Su’s book itself if full of three of the four types of taxidermy which Su highlights in the prologue: bad taxidermy, weird-as-hell good taxidermy, and weird-as-hell bad taxidermy. The only taxidermy category missing is “good taxidermy,” and rightly so for the book title and premise. Su also explains how they got into the search for taxidermy examples to begin with. At the end of the book is even a how-to guide on stuffing your own dead mouse. If you have ever wanted to give taxidermy a try, buy the book on this merit alone!

The meat of the book is the approximately 70 or so pictures of the taxidermy examples compiled in her blog over the years, and some images never before posted. Each one is more strange and disturbing from the last. It’s not so much the fact that these are pictures of dead animals, but that the animals are in such unnatural positions, displaying grotesque expressions and erratic eye patterns, and (in the final chapter of the book) wearing things or parts of other animals that don’t have any business in their natural life. Taxidermy is a strange place and I’m not sure if I really knew what I was getting myself into when I opened this hardcover to look at dead stuffed animals.

The book presents the subject as best it can be though, and if morbid humor is your thing, you’ll enjoy flipping through the book…if only to tell your friends to visit crappytaxidermy.com to see some atrocities in anti-RIP protocal. Surprisingly, I can see this book as a good gift item…something that will make the recipient laugh and cringe.

The interest in bad taxidermy is strange, but none too shocking. Humans are into weird stuff like stuffing dead animals, and so they’d naturally be into looking at pictures of fails at this art. It’s the same fascination we get from Pinterest fails. In this regard, Kat Su definitely nailed it, capitalizing on the quirks of the human condition.

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