Moss-Haired Girl: The Confessions of a Circus Performer: By Zara Zalinzi: Annotated by Joshua Chapman Green
While pouring over his mother’s personal effects after her death, a writer uncovers a trove of unlabeled photos, along with a book detailing the life of sideshow star Zara Zalinzi. As Joshua strives to separate fact from fiction by updating Zalinzi’s unreliable autobiography, he reflects on the lore of his own family and the nature of family stories themselves.
Moss-Haired Girl is wonderful stuff, punchy and clever and engaging. Written in three days, this story-within-a-story blends creative nonfiction, fantasy, and memoir with a great deal of style, inviting readers to draw their own conclusions regarding the many inconsistencies in Zara Zalinzi’s story. Slansky deftly tackles one of the most curious aspects of losing a loved one—dealing with the mysteries they leave behind—weaving it into a reflective hunt for elusive answers and understanding, one that’s as charming as it is ambiguous.
Take the wonder of the circus, add the undeniable appeal of a quest, and toss in a liberal helping of family ties and informative footnotes, and you have Moss-Haired Girl, a real treat.
R H Slansky