On Finishing Up a Book I’ve Been Working on for Four Years, Part 2.

Taxidermist Carl Akeley is considered by most taxidermy folks to be the father of modern taxidermy. Taxidermy. Taxidermy taxidermy. Certain words when you write a whole book become very easy to type. Taxidermy. Can’t remember the last time my fingers in that pattern didn’t hit their targets: Taxidermy. Certain words’ meanings begin to fade as their sounds take over. Or no: their status as signifiers gets lost, and they become instead like one’s eyes’ specific shade of yellow, or a hairstyle one’s worn for too long.

For the record, in all my notes, taxidermy’s rendered as capital T. Taxidermists become “Tmen”, viz., “Purpose here is to do what 13 Tmen did up till yesterday—mt part. [i.e. “mount partridge”] in exact pose as reference pic.” I know: Tmen. I regret the sexism.

At any rate, Tman Carl Akeley is the father of modern T. He’s famous enough that you can be his Facebook friend, but his a little too famous to respond to friend requests on time. My book opens not with his birth, but just after: with his first mounted specimen of a canary. Beginning at his birth wasn’t much of a choice because all of us get born in more or less the same way and it takes some time for us to become people enough. People enough to write about. People who act and speak and think on their own in ways that can be illustrative. So gone from the book are the first 12 years of Carl’s life. It’s not a problem.
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