At Bookslut, Brian Nicholson offers a thoughtful take on a variety of angles in Valparaiso, Round the Horn, our latest book. He traces a number of lines through the book, starting with Madeline’s work in a punk theatre troupe, and how this relates to her writing. He says, “what seems most retained from the work she did then, over any thematic overlap, is a sense of physicality.” To me this hits the nail on the head. While editing the book with Madeline, and working on the cover design, something that Madeline came back to again and again is how active her stories are.
Referencing her work against fracking, Nicholson also talks about nature in her work, saying, “Placing the environment in a position of paramount importance then diminishes the place of human endeavor relative to the rest of the world. She seeks equanimity with animals.”
He discusses the moral code of the book, gender identification, feminism (“Her sense of feminist forebears” he notes, “manifests in that whenever she details an action, like a character slaughtering an animal, it feels like something that might have precedent in Laura Ingalls Wilder.”), finally, narrowing that broad look at humanity to Madeline’s perspective as a writer:
In animals, we see as noble what might be negative traits in humans, and as ffitch makes her myths in defense of all that we could lose, she sees in these endangered creatures all the virtue humans perhaps too easily forsake for civilization’s short-term comforts. In her stories there are likewise present joys of storytelling the way we experienced it as children, that perhaps have been unlearned through lives spent receiving lessons learned by writers in their workshops.