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Lessons in Taxidermy: A Compendium of Safety and Danger (Punk Planet Books) Paperback – April 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: Punk Planet Books
  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Akashic Books (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888451793
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888451795
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,966,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Lavender, writer and online publisher of the parenting zine Hip Mama, holds nothing back as she recounts her life spent in and out of hospitals and her subsequent dissociation from her own body and emotions. She struggles with health problems from birth, which are compounded by her surroundings, including frequent encounters with street fights, domestic violence and poverty. Her voice is as strong as the front she puts up for the multitude of doctors she sees, and it's hard not to be in awe of what one fragile human being can withstand in the course of such a short lifetime (Lavender is now 35). Before Lavender has graduated from high school, she's endured cancer of the throat and skin (diagnosed as terminal at one point), cysts requiring massive jaw surgery, life-threatening allergies, internal infections and a major car accident resulting in multiple serious injuries. While Lavender herself steers far from any sort of self-aggrandizing, and her prose is somewhat inexpert, witnessing her strength and sheer determination to live makes this striking book completely engrossing. When questioned once about how she sees herself, Lavender explains, "primary identity is found in my body, in the scars, in the injuries and injustice and disease and decay." Lavender's struggles continue as she faces childbirth and recurrent health difficulties, but as her challenges grow, so does her strength to meet them, and this unforgettable memoir ends with Lavender's desire to "live as much as possible while I have the time." (Apr.)

Review

"Stunning: oblique yet heart-wrenching details." -- BITCH MAGAZINE: Feminist Response to Pop Culture

"[One of] the reigning mother superiors of the crowd [is] Bee Lavender . . ." -- TIME MAGAZINE

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
I am stunned by this book and I suggest that everyone should read it.
Jackie
The book is charming in an uncanny way, with lush words for empty moments, providing real depth for pits of despair.
Deanna Dahlsad
Will make you sad and hate yourself for making light the small things, good ending.
Julie Ann Maxwell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jackie on April 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am stunned by this book and I suggest that everyone should read it. It's a tough and frightening book, but somehow quite uplifting. I feel disoriented and almost drunk after reading it. I somehow feel more vunurable to the possibilities that bad things like this could happen to me too, but also calm. She goes very low and deep into hell, but as the book goes along, she then seems to transcend it all and enjoy her strange life. At the end of the book I almost wanted to be her, and to have her perspective on life. This is a somewhat strange outcome of the book when you consider all the savage events that happen it it. I couldn't put it down. I read it in one long sitting while all of the things I was supposed to do yesterday went undone.

On the back of the book it says that it's "apocryphal, troubling, cathartic, and important". I agree with this 100%
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Deanna Dahlsad on August 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
While some of the great work in Bee's life, such as her work as an activist & mentor, is not given the credit or attention it perhaps ought to, what the reader receives is the sense of soul about the author, the woman.

In a world of biographies which read like resumes or entries in a name-dropping contest, Bee's book has substance.

Best of all, this is not some cheesy Little Engine That Could story; Her life hasn't been simple, and neither is her writing.

The book is charming in an uncanny way, with lush words for empty moments, providing real depth for pits of despair. There are eccentric elements which endear... then again, that only makes the echos of the pits stronger...

There are moments so bereft of detail as to leave you as lingering as she... Other moments are so full of details as to be sharp & pointy things.

Certainly the freakish haunts. But her writing draws readers close, with taunt yet tender moments so intimate, it dares you to recoil at the horrific events.

Her words, as well as her life, enchant.

(Condensed Review)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Felicia Sullivan on May 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Reviewed by Steven Hansen for Small Spiral Notebook

Imagine your body being Murphy's Law official stomping grounds, or as the author explains it to the doctor who is astounded by the abnormally fast clotting properties of her blood, "Whatever should not happen will."

Set in the blue-collar environs of the rural Northwest, Lessons in Taxidermy is Bee Lavender's autobiographical account of her unaccountably bad luck with disease. The ailments come early (rotted teeth from a misguided diet of apple juice in lieu of mother's milk) and often (degenerative cysts growing in her jaw at nine-years-old; cancer by 12). These are only highlights of a terrible litany.

I was used to being alone within illness. The world recedes and other people are just phantoms, whether they are in the room or halfway across the world.

Deserving more than anyone of having herself a never-ending pity party, Lavender doesn't. Her matter-of-fact prose is as detached and spare as the persona her years of illness have sculpted, which makes the book, at times, seemingly lacking in emotional depth. However, this mirrors the tunnel vision that allowed her to cope. Amazingly, nowhere does Lavender speak - at any length at least - about becoming depressed. At an age when most kids were hanging upside down on monkey bars, her life was hanging by a thread, reduced to the simple antipodes of survival, life or death.

Through it all, Lavender manages to finish college, have a kid, get a job and a steady male companion (marriage must not be her bag). And, refreshingly, she doesn't treat these accomplishments as any huge, big deal. Her nonchalance resides in her longtime wish to just `be a normal girl, with regular skin and ordinary clothes, commonplace hobbies and predictable friends.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lulu Magoo VINE VOICE on September 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
I had been wanting to read this book for a while, and when I finally received it, I read it in 2 days. Bee has had a lifelime of numerous debilitating illnesses and her story of one's strength and courage through it all moved me to tears. On so many occasions, Bee was ready to just lie down and let the diseases consume her but through some hidden strength, she has been able to survive. Several times I had to put the book down to wipe my eyes. The story is told in a frank and honest manner, a story that her mother encouraged her to write to tell a story of survival.

As if Bee's illnesses weren't enough of a cross to bear, she and several of her friends are involved in a horrific car accident that when told, left me sobbing.

What I appreciated the most about Bee's story is that she never seemed to be looking for sympathy or pity. She told it like it happened and the story is all the more powerful because of her candor,

I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Julie Ann Maxwell on September 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Will make you sad and hate yourself for making light the small things, good ending.
A wicked read, also check out the other Punk Planet books... I've read many and they are also good reads.
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