American Music

VINTAGE 1997




I WAS AMELIA EARHART

In this brilliantly imagined novel, Amelia Earhart tells us what happened after she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared off the coast of New Guinea one glorious, windy day in 1937. And she tells us about herself.



There is her love affair with flying (“The sky is flesh”) . . . .



There are her memories of the past: her childhood desire to become a heroine (“Heroines did what they wanted”) . . . her marriage to G.P. Putnam, who promoted her to fame, but was willing to gamble her life so that the book she was writing about her round-the-world flight would sell out before Christmas.



There is the flight itself — day after magnificent or perilous or exhilarating or terrifying day (“Noonan once said any fool could have seen I was risking my life but not living it”).



And there is, miraculously, an island (“We named it Heaven, as a kind of joke”).



And, most important, there is Noonan . . .

PRAISE and REVIEWS

“In this lyrical first novel…Ms. Mendelsohn has chosen to use the bare-boned outlines of the aviator’s life as an armature for a poetic meditation on freedom and love and flight…. She manages to make this highly whimsical story feel oddly convincing…. She does not try to pass her story off as history, but rather imaginatively transfigures her material. The resulting novel, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s General in His Labyrinth or Larry McMurtry’s Anything for Billy, invokes the spirit of a mythic personage, while standing on its own as a powerfully imagined work of fiction. Ms. Mendelsohn invests her story with force of fable.“
—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
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“[The book] appears like a flash of silver in the leaden skies of contemporary fiction. It is a haunting and delicate piece of guesswork…. Mendelsohn is the sort of writer who takes the oyster as her world rather than the other way around: her book outlines a small space for itself to inhabit and then goes about filling in this space with shadowy patches, daubs of bright color, and areas that seem to be the prose equivalent of white paint. Her novel is, indeed, drenched in visual effects…. Its quiet air of astonishment lends the shine of newness to everything it touches..” 
—Daphne Merkin, The New Yorker
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“Not to be missed. It is an immediately addicting book, as telegraphic as those of Margaret Duras, and as charged with longing.” 
— Liesl Schillinger, Harper’s Bazaar

“Brilliantly evokes an imagined destiny.”
USA Today
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“Insinuating and even addictive… a vehicle for dreaming.”
Village Voice


 
“A great read….The book does spirit you aloft. It brings Amelia Earhart to life, more than any straight biography ever could.”
—Katherine Whittamore , Salon 
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“… unfolds with the surreal precision of a dream and that marks first novelist Mendelsohn as a writer to watch…. calculatedly lovely and moving ”
School Library Journal

“Mendelsohn [is] an exquisite crafter of prose…. Brilliant…is not too strong a word to describe what Mendelsohn has done…. Her novel will hold you spellbound.”
Newark Sunday Star-Ledger

“Fascinating… The prose soars with lightness and imagination.”
Winston-Salem Journal

“A tantalizing fictional biography of Amelia Earhart… slim and idiosyncratic as its heroine…. The pleasures of reading this book are many.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
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“Lush [and] mesmerizing… Mendelsohn gives us not so much a stream of consciousness as a stream of dreamlike images to float on.”
Hartford Courant

“Reads like a kind of dream…. Mendelsohn delivers a fantasy from deep within Earhart’s consciousness.”
—Denver Post

“Sparely written, almost visionary… a paean to the ultimate escape.”
The Christian Science Monitor
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“Elegant and sensuously beautiful… A psychologically rich portrait of a highly unusual woman.”
Booklist

“Strange, slight, but wonderful: a modest portrait that manages to create moments of exceptional intensity and power of feeling.”
—Kirkus Reviews
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“Mendelsohn’s rhapsodic language and shimmering, dream-like imagery will carry readers along on her voyage into the many mysteries this work contains… A sensual, intoxicating experience.”
—Louisville Courier-Journal

“Compelling. You can’t help admiring the boldness of a writer who would make fiction of a legend.”
—New York Times Book Review

“Vividly imagined and complex… a soaring prose meditation.”
—Chicago Tribune
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“Exciting… It’s testimony to the power of the Earhart myth, and to Mendelsohn’s sparkling prose, that the reader is quickly enraptured…. This is entertainment of a high order.”
—Lexington Herald-Leader
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