A review by nordstina
Filthy Animals: Stories, by Brandon Taylor

emotional reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


After reading and being blown away by Brandon Taylor's Real Life, I was ready for whatever he wrote next. Filthy Animals is a collection of short stories that has a mix of recurring and unique characters. The overriding theme throughout these stories is loneliness, when one is alone or among others, and the pull of wanting to be understood. My favorite stories in the collection are the ones that feature the same group of individuals. The main character of note is Lionel, a graduate student in mathematics, who has just been discharged from the hospital. In the opening story "Potluck" he reluctantly attends a party by a former classmate, where he feels deeply uncomfortable among others. At this party he meets Charles and his girlfriend Sofie. The relationship between these three characters are highlighted in over half of the stories, so we get to know them better. Charles and Sofie are both dancers, and they struggle with deciding what they want to do with their life considering the diminishing opportunities as they age in their profession. Lionel is definitely reminiscent to me of Wallace, the main character in Taylor's Real Life. He's very observant and deeply vulnerable. Taylor's descriptions of what is is like to live with depression and anxiety are deeply resonant. The other stories in this collection were a bit of a mixed bag for me. My favorite of them was probably "Anne of Cleves", which continues to highlight Taylor's talent at writing interesting conversations where so much (and nothing) are said. If you enjoyed Taylor's previous book and writings, you will absolutely appreciate what he has done with this collection and I will continue to recommend his writings to everyone I know.

Thank you to NetGalley and Riverhead for the advance reader copy in exchange for honest review.