Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy by Melissa Milgrom is an in-depth look at an oft-forgotten art. Milgrom is able to capture and keep her audience's attention (yes, even those readers who may not have known they had any interest whatsoever in this area) through an entertaining and informative tour of taxidermy today and through the ages. Once a staple of the dioramas of natural history museums and now a prerequisite for Damien Hirst's studio, taxidermy often meets with acceptance issues, as killing animals only to keep them around often adds insult to injury in many quarters. But Milgrom's storytelling reveals the tribe of taxidermists in such a sympathetic way that it is difficult not to take an interest. Besides, this book is a great conversation-starter.
Hardcover, 304 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. $16.50 at Amazon.