Books We Can’t Quit: What begins with bird, by Noy Holland



167 pages, $16.95


Review by Brynne Rebele-Henry


Noy Holland’s 2005 story collection What begins with bird is a catalogue of conception. The female characters are a host of surrogates charged with the rearing of their own wombs, babies both imaginary and not, and the men are damaged bruisers, temperamental, mentally unstable fathers unaware of their growing broods, lumberjack drop-outs, quick to lose control. Tinged with love and the catatonia and soreness of afterbirth, Holland’s prose forms an ode to the lilt, bulge, hobble, and gilded calamity that is pregnancy, the fallopian galaxy of it, and to the burlesque that is parenthood. Holland frequently uses the garden of fertility as a metaphor— the stunted growth of roots that result in insanity, the barren ovaries of plains and mountains and the hardships of existing in a body—and equates the tangles of birth, abortion and menstruation to winter, when trees strip their own leaves in a form of reincarnation. Continue reading

[REVIEW] A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride


Coffee House Press

227 pages, $24


Review by Brynne Rebele-Henry


Eimear McBride’s debut novel A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is a runic chant for every woman, girl, and infant who has ever been born. McBride’s language is sexual, primitive, almost Stonehenge-like in its spacing and punctuation. The words pound against the page in a style that brings to mind the innermost working of organs in the human body, the language a jumbled elemental call for blood, desolate in its beauty, the prose reminiscent of a desert at four in the morning:

For you. You’ll soon. You’ll give her name. In the stitches of her skin she’ll wear your say. Mammy me? Yes you. Bounce the bed, I’d say. I’d say that’s what you did. Then lay you down. They cut you round. Wait and hour and day.

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