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What Begins with Bird: Fictions Paperback – October 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 167 pages
  • Publisher: Fiction Collective 2; 1st Edition edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573661252
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573661256
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,177,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though the dank, tremulous underside of motherhood and familial love is the ostensible subject of this daring but distancing collection of six stories, its real focus is the electric force of language, revealing and obscuring reality and creating beauty out of even the most distasteful truth. National Book Award–nominee Holland (The Spectacle of the Body) is as besotted with words as she is disillusioned with the tropes of parent, child and sibling relationships, and she brings her fierce powers to bear in these malice-laden stories. In the title story, a new mother reluctantly welcomes her mentally disturbed sister for a visit, while recalling the abortion her sister was forced to undergo by their father years ago. A man takes the stage to introduce a poet at a reading in "Time for the Flat-Headed Man," but describes the wonders of his small son and his damaged infant daughter instead. A frank child narrates "Rooster, Pollard, Cricket, Goose," which makes the horror of her beloved father abusing a decrepit horse as her mother prepares to leave them all the more poignant and strange. Holland's baroquely bleak prose sometimes obscures her plots, but she is undeniably a writer's writer, and language lovers will thrill to her jittery rhythms. (Nov.)
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About the Author

Noy Holland is the author of two collections of short fiction, What Begins With Bird (FC2), and The Spectacle of the Body (Knopf). Her stories have appeared in The Quarterly, Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, Ploughshares, 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 is married to the writer Sam Michel. They live in a quiet hill town with their two young children.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Richard K. Weems on August 19, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Noy Holland's second collection of short fiction shows a stronger level of character empathy, revealing characters who are deeply troubled and looking for solutions that may not always be permanent but will allow them to survive through to the ends of their stories. Whether they are barren women looking to connect with a child, any child, or a first-timer in front of a crowd revealing a little too much about himself in the process of introducing a speaker, Noy Holland's characters in this book are thick, meaty and substantive. Anorexics and belligerent veterans in wheelchairs are both touching characters in the end, who act out in ways true to their natures (or the natures they have been handed).

While Noy Holland's writing style gets a little too much in the way in selections like the title piece, her writing at its best moments is very direct to her characters, enclosing you under a tent that's really just a sheet propped up by a table in your living room. The tones are warm and inviting, and though the characters are a little scary, Noy settles them down enough to let you watch them without wanting to run away. But sometimes the quietest characters are the ones who will shock you the most, so be on guard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Salt Lake City Reader on September 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
What I love most about Noy Holland's work, what I find most gorgeously original, is her willingness to walk into unmediated grief. Most writers feel the obligation to illuminate a path to redemption and healing through the people who inhabit the stories. Holland offers transcendent trust to the reader, faith that she too can enter and witness and bear devastation, hope that she too will love these people and her own transient, fragile, loss-riddled life with absolute, passionate surrender.

Her language is the stuttering heartbeat and gasping breath, the echo of one's own voice transformed to pure poetry.
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