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I Was Trying to Describe What It Feels Like

New and Selected Stories 

List Price: $18.95

December 12, 2017 | Paperback | 5.125 x 7.9375, 400 Pages  | ISBN 9781619025936
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“These new and selected stories testify to the fact that there are still fine short story writers out there, doing the hard job of serious literary production in our age of tweets and memes…Holland’s language is challenging, elliptical, bristling with sensations and resounding with the interior lives of complicated, recognizable people.” ―The New York Times Book Review

In the twenty years since her first short story collection, The Spectacle of the Body, Noy Holland has become a singular presence in American writing. Her second and third collections, What Begins With Bird and Swim for the Little One First, secured her reputation as a writer who excels and excites, her prose described as unsettling and acutely wrought, rhythmic and lyrically condensed. Following the recent publication of Bird, her first novel, I Was Trying to Describe What It Feels Like is a gathering of stories, the majority of which have never before been published in book form. Set on two continents and ranging in length from a single page to a novella, these stories beguile and disrupt; they remind us of the reach of our compassion and of the dazzling possibilities of language.

“I Was Trying to Describe What it Feels Like,” from which the collection takes its title, is part love song, part fever dream—a voice demanding the ecstatic. Holland’s stories do not indulge in easy emotions, and they keep to the blessedly blurred frontier between poetry and prose.

NOY HOLLAND is the author of Bird: A Novel as well as three story collections, Swim for the Little One First, What Begins with Bird, and The Spectacle of the Body. Recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the MacDowell Colony and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, she teaches writing in the graduate program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Praise

Longlisted for the Story Prize
Winner of the 2018 Katherine Anne Porter Award in Literature

“These new and selected stories testify to the fact that there are still fine short story writers out there, doing the hard job of serious literary production in our age of tweets and memes…Holland’s language is challenging, elliptical, bristling with sensations and resounding with the interior lives of complicated, recognizable people…There are distant echoes here of Ian McEwan’s macabre, early work, Shirley Jackson’s demonic families and even the apocalyptic landscapes of Cormac McCarthy. But Holland is a much different writer still, entangling her readers in experience-rich narratives about the various ways people try to love one another, live their lives in hard places and, with the best words they can manage, ‘describe what it feels like.'” ―New York Times Book Review

“None of the stories in the collection are formulaic, and none of them are easy. Rather, they’re sneaky, enigmatic, revealing themselves to the reader at unexpected times, sometimes long after the last word has been read…I Was Trying to Describe What It Feels Like is a strong collection, and Holland’s writing is by turns hallucinatory, bizarre, and maddening in the best possible way. ” ―NPR

“Over the past two decades, Noy Holland has been quietly publishing some of the finest short stories written in the English language . . . By turns earthy, reverent, poetic, and wry, these stories don’t so much ‘describe what it feels like’ as make you feel what it feels like—the ‘it’ being what it is to be fully alive in the world.” —Oprah.com

“A treasure trove… Holland’s prose makes the familiar seems strange and the strange seem familiar.” ―ELLE

“There is always a visceral sense of something wild and untamable beneath the surface of Holland’s stories, moving her characters through scenes and moving plots toward sharp conclusions.” ―Booklist

 

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