BOOK REVIEW: Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor

August 26, 2022

Filthy Animals

Brandon Taylor

This collection of eleven LGBTQ+ stories, interwoven and interconnected by character, theme and narrative tension is superb. Taylor takes the familiar Queer tropes and upends them, shakes them out, twists them round, some get a spit and rub, others placed back in strange and unfamiliar ways, but we see ourselves reflected back, and  our desires squint back at us too.

This is humid book, I could feel the heat rising Taylor keeps their narrative beat and keeps it strong, it’s relentless in the best pounding way, Driving the reader on through the stories as they writhe on the page and echo the characters writhing.  Taylor seems to write about the huge things in life, but really, it’s the tiny things which resonate, and the prose captures those personal flickers in beautifully flowing sentences which offer backstory, insight and a smile at his fearless flair with words. The book won ‘The Story Prize’ 2022 you can really see why.

In the series of linked stories at the heart of Filthy Animals, a young man tentatively engages with the world again. Recently discharged from hospital, Lionel meets two dance students at a party. Charles and Sophie’s relationship is difficult to read but Lionel is drawn to them both. As he navigates their sexually fraught encounters, he is forced to weigh his vulnerabilities against his loneliness – and to consider his return to life – half the stories circle this trio as they work it out on their own terms. Elsewhere, a little girl runs wild to the consternation of her childminder; unspoken frictions among a group of teenagers come to a vicious head on a winter night; and a woman dreads a first date only to find that something has cracked open.


Brandon-Taylor_. Photo credit Bill-Adams

The prose is a meniscus,  holding us together with the surface tension of meaning as random, dangerous, chaos churns below.  Filthy Animals focuses on the tensions between what we are, or think we are, and what we appear to be, and the flows that move between these layers. Desire V Performance, Need V want, Realist V dreamer,  Ego V opportunity. The interfaces between the overwhelming emotional responses caught withing these pages and the cold incongruity of the characters is delicious.

Here be Dragons too, it’s not all moist fun, the stories fold deeply worrying things within them, reaching out to grab us unawares whilst we stare too long in our mirrors. A few of the stories feature hunters and most of them offer insight into violence. It’s disarming to read such an honest blunt writer who uses their words to clarify rather than allude, with precise understating grace to point out the difficult truths we often chose to ignore or disguise.

Filthy Animals is a wonderful confection with prose that dangles off the tongue like lustful drool. Turning in the half light, dripping into the wrinkles and cracks in our reader’s mind. I finished the book far too fast, was driven on by the seductive undertow which dragged me out, way way out, before exhaustingly turning the last page with a sigh.

The book reflects Taylor’s world of academia but also our own experience of slowly reconnecting to our lost pre-Covid lives, not quite fitting back in, not really liking what we were, or wriggling in the new skin of opportunity and revised desires,  Taylor gloriously writes us our Queer passions, unapologetic, hot as fuck, urgent, fragile, passionate flesh giving a beautiful dark erotic charge to the book’s stories but the vulnerability and trembling fear of opening up lingers. Brilliant!

Read and learn more about prize winning author Brandon Taylor on their website here. 

Out now paperback £ 9.99

For more info or to order the book see the publisher’s website here