Cover Image: Filthy Animals

Filthy Animals

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Member Reviews

Huge fan since I read Real Life. I love the Midwest setting. Midwest is well done and accurate. While the mood of these were pretty somber, so have to be in the right mood to read, but loved the connected timeline. Haven’t read short stories connected like that before!
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This was an excellent read! I have not read Real Life yet, so my only prior read of Brandon Taylor's was his short story in the collection Kink.

I wasn't expecting stories in Filthy Animals to be related to each other, and while I did like it- I do wonder if the way it was structured was optimal. The stories that focused on Lionel/Charles/Sophie seemed like they could have been a novella, and I wonder if I would have liked it better presented that way? I suppose you'd lose a little bit of the Easter egg effect (I freaking love Easter eggs) in the rest of the stories, as they were sprinkled within the stories of these three. 

I maybe didn't like the choice of structure because the Lionel/Charles/Sophie arc reminded me so much of Taylor's story in the collection Kink- which I liked better. That story had so much crackling energy to it, and it read like a movie. These three didn't live up to that story, in my opinion, though I definitely appreciated the mental health line of Lionel's arc. There was some really strong writing there. 

The stories that weren't focused on Lionel/Charles/Sophie (which ARE good stories, nothing in this book isn't good) are amazing, so every time I got back to those three, I wanted to get back out to see where else we were going. The writing throughout is amazing, but "Mass", "What Made Them Made You", and the story "Filthy Animals" were the three stories I liked the very best. As in I wanted to throw the book across the room they were so good.

I always like to include at least one outstanding quote, and here's my pick for this book:

"When she was younger and sleeping upstairs, Grace had sometimes felt a pressure on her chest or on her shoulders, holding her down, doing nothing else but that, pressing her against the bed until she was perfectly flat. She had tried to scream, to holler for someone to come and help her, but the weight on her chest had prevented it. She’d lie there all night, frozen, stuck inside her body, unable to do anything to get free. When she told Big Davis about it, he said, What made them made you, didn’t it? They don’t mean you no harm. As if some common origin could negate terror of the unknown. Because we were all made of the same fearsome stuff, nothing in the world could scare you if you looked it in the eye and saw the part of it that was yourself. It was nonsensical in the way that only wisdom could be, Grace thought. Old men and their little stories."

Thank you to Riverhead and NetGalley for the review copy!
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There is an allure to this novel with its remarkably dark and poignant substance.

I find that the trajectory of the story felt more revolving with a specific character despite having a variety of them in the book. Some of the stories, regardless of their target character to focus, felt more a side story of the first character—Lionel—than anything else.

However, I did enjoy the entirety of the novel. I think that it was beautifully written and that the essence of the story gave the novel a spectacular importance.
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This collection is masterful, tenderly wrought, and lovely. I can't wait to see what's next from him!
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Exceptional, elegant stories, some connected, all threaded with isolation and difficult choices. This is a fine writer with a recognizable and distinctive voice whose follow up to a striking debut confirms he’s here to stay. Good news.
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Reading Brandon Taylor's collection of linked short stories was a real delight. It was fun to see, and imagine, these characters interacting on the same campus. There were sentences throughout that I had to stop reading to digest, either for their wisdom, their beauty, or both. I was partial to the third story, "Flesh," as someone who loves dance. The way Taylor describes those movements along with the physicality and athleticism of dance is really incredible.
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In this series of shorts, focused on a group of interrelated young people, most of them striving graduate students, Brandon Taylor explores familiar themes of his: loneliness, belonging, family and a sense of home. All his characters yearn for something, sometimes painfully, and few fulfill that longing by getting what they want. And when they do, it often doesn't satisfy their need. This collection, like his debut novel is beautiful and poignant, and at times uncomfortable. An impactful reading experience. Recommended for readers of literary and outsider fiction.
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Fresh off of his critically acclaimed novel Real Life, Brandon Taylor is setting forth a short story collection,Filthy Animals, that should be seen as a modern day John Cheever arrangement.
Many of the stories here are connected by Lionel, who we meet in the engaging opening story Pot Luck, where Lionel, a college math proctor, is seeking to reconnect with the world after a suicide attempt. While at the title party, he finds himself bonding with Charles, a dancer who is in a relationship with Sophie, who Lionel also feels a kinship with.

As this triangle goes forward, Lionel's unease at balancing both of these newly formed connections is felt throughout the book. The other stories here showcase a distraught private chef/babysitter and her less than happy charge, a pack of turbulent teens seeking trouble and then finding it in a rather violent manner and a young woman having more than her fair share of coping with her physical and emotional health.

While I'm not a big short story reader myself , this collection is a  truly compelling book that ought to bring all of the reluctant readers to the yard.
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DNF. I really liked the premise but the writing did not work for me at all. It wouldn't be fair to the book if I finished reading and gave it a low rating.
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Raw, fraught, observational, intimate. This collection of linked stories captivated me from the first one. I especially loved the titular story, Filthy Animals.
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After Brandon Taylor’s brilliant debut, Real Life, last year, FILTHY ANIMALS is a tremendous follow-up. This collection of short stories are woven together with themes of identity and pain. A thread through many of the stories are the characters of Lionel, Charles, and Sophie, who meet at a potluck at the beginning of the book.

Taylor has the ability to write about lives, almost in real time, over hours or days, and taking the mundane aspects of life and transforming them into something meaningful. His prose is excellent. For me, reading his books in a fully immersive experience, it’s almost as if I’m living it.

The book explores themes of identity, relationships, pain. Several of the characters are ballet dancers with pain and skill centered in their body. This makes the book much more visceral. Some of the characters deal with trauma like abuse, or self-harm, or a cancer diagnosis. Many of the stories deal with complicated relationships that are non-traditional or at least not widely portrayed in fiction. 

I loved that this book captures moments in the lives of these characters like a snapshot, brief, ephemeral. At the same time, full characters and whole worlds are developed with an ease that astounds me. I can’t recommend this book enough. Mark your calendars for the publication date of June 22 in the US.
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This was an excellent, if often bleak, collection. I appreciated that half of the stories (roughly every other one) were interconnected and focused primarily on a trio of characters. These stories were, for me, the main pull of the collection (but I think that says more about my preference for character development and novel-style plotting than anything else).
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Very beautiful, accomplished and unbelievably sad while at the same time capturing the sadness, melancholy, competitiveness and hipsterism of grad school life for twenty something gay men.
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I was so so excited when I was approved to read this ARC from NetGalley. I loved Taylor's debut novel Real Life that was published last year. Taylor has quickly become one of my favorite new LGBTQ+ authors.

Filthy Animals is a collection of interlinked short stories, with an independent non-interlinked short story in between each linked story. I was a really unique structure, which reminded me a lot of Bryan Washington's Lot.

I really enjoyed the interlinked nature of these stories. I generally do not enjoy short story collections as much as novels. However, interlinking these stories really made a difference for me. My only critique of this book is that is felt very similar to Taylor's first novel - Real Life. Many of the characters felt the same and I didn't feel a true variety in the type of characters portrayed.

I highly recommend this as Taylor is such a talented emerging LGBTQ+ author. Thank you to Riverhead and NetGalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Brandon Taylor is a force. I liked this story collection so much, however, the stories about Lionel, Sophie, and Charles could’ve been a novel themselves. I feel the would read more like a book of stories had so many of the characters not been mixed in. I would also love to see the story about Milton and Nolan expanded into a novel. Great writing and a quick read.
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Life is Pain, Highness: Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor

All I can hear is The Dread Pirate Roberts in my head … “Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

And for Brandon Taylor, pain is high art.

Available in late June, “Filthy Animals” is Taylor’s followup to his Booker-nominated debut, “Real Life.” With this collection of short stories, he returns to Madison, or something like it, with several characters that are revisited throughout the book — Lionel, Charles and Sophie, and travels elsewhere to peek into the lives of others, including Hartjes, Alek, Nolan, Milton, Sigrid, Marta, Big Davis and Grace.

The thread that connects these stories is pain. And I think that is an important distinction. Because, should you choose to read this, you’ll also note a larger theme around sexuality. Taylor’s collection, like “Real Life,” feature characters coming to terms with their sexuality. Or someone else’s. But at its core, these stories are about the pain in humanity. Yes, pain in coming out. But also pain in the joy of discovering one’s true self. Or pain in the knowledge that life is fleeting. Pain in having to give up a dream. Pain internalized from abuse from long ago. Or even abuse in the moment.

It’s a lot of pain.

So why should you read this, you ask? Why read something that sounds like you are going to need a whole bunch of Vitamin D to get through? Because Brandon. Really, if you’ve read “Real Life” (and if you haven’t you should), then you’ll understand Taylor’s character development and his ability to write a sentence that pulls you into another’s world is bar none. I still miss Wallace and with this addition of Lionel, almost hope in some fictional coffee shop in this fictional Madison, these two men can connect and heal each other’s wounds. (Because, Lionel, Charles comes with baggage. Baggage!)

I want more to these stories. I want novels for almost all of them. I want to know Marta and Sigrid grow old together. I want Big Davis and his grandson to speak. I want to know if Alek is OK. And I want to know if Hartjes really XXXXXX Simon.

It’s funny, I am always hesitant to read a short story collection, as if I think I can’t get invested in the characters or that somehow I am being ripped off from a full-fledged novel. Filthy Animals is so much the opposite of that. Characters that wind their way into your psyche, packed with emotion, and just succinct enough that you can take a breath after some stories that are dark enough to have you questioning the human motive to connect with other humans.

Take note of this summer release and sink into a comfortable chair or porch swing and connect with Taylor’s people. Just fantastic writing. Don’t miss it.
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This was not my cup of tea (a timing issue -- too much disorientation going on in my personal life for me to sink into these pages like they deserve), but Brandon Taylor can write a helluva story. I'm looking forward to rereading this one when I'm in the proper headspace for it. I 10/10 recommend this collection to anyone who loves short fiction.
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I read Taylor’s short story Anne of Cleves ages ago (which appears in this collection), and I quickly fell in love. In some ways it’s a melancholic, heavy story, but there’s also a playfulness to it, and I found that tone so refreshing that I was sure that Filthy Animals was going to end up as one of my favorite books of the year.

Instead, this book is unendingly bleak. Anne of Cleves offers a brief respite from the misery, but it’s otherwise a weightier collection than I had expected. Every alternating story in this collection follows the same narrative: a depressed Black man named Lionel has just met a white couple at a party, Charles and Sophie, who are in an open relationship; he hooks up with Charles and then gets drawn into their lives. I loved the choice to anchor the collection to a single narrative, and without fail these stories were my favorites and the ones where Taylor most succeeded at accessing the characters’ complex emotional landscapes. 

The other stories left less of an impression on me, and I think it’s because we just don’t spend enough time with the characters to fully earn the emotional impact that Taylor is aiming for, and that he nails so well with Wallace’s story in Real Life. I finished this a week ago and Lionel’s story is really the only one that has stuck in my mind since then.

I still really enjoyed reading this–a discussed, I love Taylor’s writing–and I would wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s a skillful exploration of the intersection of loneliness, trauma, and intimacy–it just wasn’t entirely what I needed it to be. But that is a-okay! Will still devour whatever Taylor publishes next.
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Wow! Brandon Taylor has done it again! Through mostly-interconnected stories set in the South and MidWest, Taylor has again rendered moving accounts of people at varying states in life, but all with a deep sense of longing. Each story showcases Taylor's incredible ability in displaying his characters' emotional interiority, their vulnerabilities. The prose is crisp, but the emotions are what truly make these stories shine. I could have read more and more of these.
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This book was incredible. The short stories are cohesive, beautifully ordered, and wonderfully written. Some of it calls you back to his work in Real Life, some of it shocks you with his talent: how can he possibly occupy all of these different stories and perspectives? The book is excellent.  Highly recommend. Honestly, I recommend anything he writes.
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