This slim novel from Sara Greenslit (The Blue of Her Body) reads like a beautiful, haunting dream, and its sparkling mesh of lyricism and imagery netted Greenslit the Ronald Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize, ensuring the work's availability to captivate lovers of fine wordcraft.
Light on word count but heavy with impact, Greenslit's narrative follows brief thoughts and moments in the lives of a lapsed cellist attempting to master her instrument anew; her neighbor Celia; and Celia's ancestor Ann Pudeator, executed during the Salem witch trials and now alive only in Celia's amateur genealogy attempts. Though these three women ostensibly make up the focus of the novel, in reality a myriad of human and animal stories link and interlink in a succession of interludes and fragments that is part fiction, part field guide, part poetry. Greenslit possesses a rare gift for capturing the lovely and eerie connections between past, present and future, between strangers who never meet, and between humanity and the natural world we barely notice. She offers us the secrets of birds, the alchemy of music and the mystery of migration.
Fans of free verse and prose poetry will savor As If a Bird Flew by Me as though walking through a gem-studded cavern, each sliver of language a shining stone. One caveat: not reading Greenslit's most striking passages aloud will feel akin to thumbing through sheet music without ever sounding a note, so savor in solitude or among other lovers of unique, expressive writing.
***This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness Readers Edition. Sign up for this free and awesome newsletter at http://www.shelf-awareness.com for the latest news and reviews! This review refers to an ARC provided by Shelf Awareness.***