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Description - What Begins with Bird by Noy Holland

In "What Begins with Bird", Noy Holland creates an exhilarating tension between the satisfactions of meaning and the attenuated beauty of lyric, making her fiction felt as deeply as it is understood. An unstable sister whose misconceived pregnancy replays the endless nightmare of childhood siblings and a wrecked marriage occasioning the misery of a horse - these are the frozen events around which Holland's words congeal. The poetry of her images, powerful but immediately absorbed, can bring consciousness to a standstill: "By then I've reached her: Sister spluttering, spitting out the plug of snow. Her mouth is bleeding. Her face is the grotesque of a face, a soul in flames, some rung of hell, and she is sobbing, spit puddling under her tongue." The Faulknerian echoes of Holland's prose invoke a dreamscape, a panorama enclosing barns and men and guns and Mother, as she trudges the cold hills in her nightgown. This writing is exquisite, a gorgeousness as unforgettable as a stabbing pain or the after-image of a howl in the pitch of night.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781573661256
ISBN-10: 1573661252
Format: Paperback
(216mm x 140mm x 12mm)
Pages: 167
Imprint: Fiction Collective Two
Publisher: The University of Alabama Press
Publish Date: 1-Sep-2005
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - What Begins with Bird by Noy Holland

US Kirkus Review » Second collection of stories from National Book Award nominee Holland (The Spectacle of the Body, 1994). Although specifics vary, the six tales circle around the same set of twisted relationships among a stable older sister who has recently given birth, a younger sister whose life has veered into chaos, the older sister's passive husband, the sisters' distant father and their various pets. The title story is narrated by the unnamed older sister, consumed by fear for her healthy newborn child. After the crazy younger sister (also nameless) comes for Easter from her institutional "home," guilt, distrust, resentment and love ferment until the elder sibling finds release with a small, sharp act of violence. In "Someone Is Always Missing," a third-person narrator provides the sisters' names. Libby's husband, meanwhile, articulates his deep paternal love for his child, his passive rage toward his dominating wife and his fear that he will lose them both, in "Time for the Flat-Headed Man," written as a speech introducing a visiting writer his wife has brought to town. In "Fairway," an older man who appears to be the sisters' aloof father finds his quiet life disrupted by a visit from his youngest daughter. "Coquina" sets an archetypal paranoid male and passive female on an island to begin their married life. Holland pushes her experimental language to its lyrical edge in the final story, "Rooster, Pollard, Cricket, Goose," which links violence perpetrated upon animals with a young daughter's sense of abandonment. Risk-taking, ambitious prose: sometimes deeply affecting, sometimes merely affected. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Noy Holland

Noy Holland is the author of The Spectacle Of The Body (Knopf, 1994), which was nominated for a National Book Award. Her stories have appeared in The Quarterly, Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, Open City, Noon, and others. She is an associate professor in the MFA Program for Writers and Poets at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she co-directs the Juniper Initiative. She received an NEA Grant in 2003.

Books By Noy Holland

I Was Trying to Describe What It Feels Like by Noy Holland
Hardback, January 2017
Bird by Noy Holland
Paperback / softback, October 2016