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.
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.