Large Animals: Stories by Jess Arndt
“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
"Arndt’s short stories are delicious flights of fancy, or obsession, or fertile curiosity—or, more accurately, some beguiling combination of all three. . . . This is a playful and provocative collection, full of sly, deft turns of phrase and striking imagery.” —Publishers Weekly
"Reading Arndt is like walking toward a shimmering desert mirage and being met with a cloud of acid instead of an oasis of cool water... A deeply transgressive, riveting shot out of the gate. Arndt is one to watch." —Kirkus Reviews
"Arndt tells stories that resemble handfuls of ribbons—vibrant, overlapping, tangled, seemingly more middles than beginnings and endings. . . . Arndt’s keen, wild stories are truly original, and readers will hope for more." —Booklist
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 expression of voice and deliver a profoundly original punch to the gut. In “Jeff,” Lily Tomlin confuses Jess for Jeff, instigating a dark and hilarious identity crisis. In “Together,” a couple battles a mysterious and unnamed 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 noticers 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 undefined, the nonconforming, the queer. 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jess Arndt received her MFA at Bard and was a 2013 Graywolf SLS Fellow and 2010 Fiction Fellow at the New York Foundation of the Arts. She has written for Fence, BOMB, Aufgabe, and the art journal Parkett, among others. She is a co-founder of New Herring Press, and lives in Los Angeles.