Valparaiso, Round the Horn


246 pages
ISBN 13: 978-0-9906020-0-2
Released in March 2015

Read sample stories at Barrelhouse, Sententia and The Collagist

The short stories of acclaimed playwright Madeline ffitch speak for themselves, loudly and clearly. ffitch is a fearless writer, and these 11 stories seem both magical and tethered to their rural landscapes. Here you’ll find a passionate scientist studying a forgotten species of Mud Turtle, a janitor who brings up his daughter in the basement of her middle school, a construction worker who actually minds where he pees … and a whole lot more. Throughout, you’ll be astonished and engaged by the colloquial fluency of her prose, the honesty of her piquant characters, and the intriguing and earthy backdrops that ground everything in this imaginative world.


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Additional information

Weight12 oz
Dimensions8.25 × 5 × 1 in
Author Bio

Madeline ffitch was a founding member of the punk theater company The Missoula Oblongata. Her fiction has appeared in The Chicago Review, Sententia, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and Tin House. She lives and writes in Appalachian Ohio where she homesteads and raises ducks, goats, and her small son, Nector.


“ffitch’s real strength as a story teller is in her ability to surprise the reader. Whether it’s a startling description that makes perfect sense- “My dad touched his face, and felt tenderness, and felt the color blue”- or an abrupt twist ending, such as in “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” ffitch always keeps the reader guessing and entertained. At times, this abruptness can be shocking and unfulfilling. A few of the stories in the collection end suddenly after a long meander and left me wondering. I always felt as though I could trust ffitch, though. I might not have enjoyed the jolt endings, but I had the sense that ffitch was steering me along with purpose.” —Steph Prost @ Small Press Book Review “The stories here are less interested in getting to a gut-punch of a last line than presenting in their telling the feeling of adventure itself, the yearning that drives one to it, and the forging of an iron will that results in the end. Her desire, I think, is to make the myth she wants to see in America, exemplary of a liberal individualism, where all are free to make their way and find a corner in the world’s crags, without harm to others. Here guns are fired, often, but never at another human being.”—Brian Nicholson @ Bookslut “I tend to think not about myself as a writer, but about myself as a reader.  As a reader, I care about resonance, but I do not want to be related to.  I want to be transported, astonished, and convinced.” —Madeline ffitch with Steph Prost “I am interested in making stories that acknowledge vitality, that reject the cultural paradigm of the modern malaise. I believe there are other true stories to be told than stories of disconnection, isolations, jadedness, and boredom. I want to confront the assumption that disconnection is what we have to write about, and the only other option is to have a story where people are stupidly “happy” or something. I don’t think that deep sadness comes from being disconnected. I think it comes from being connected. And what seems more true to me is how connected people are, how relentlessly involved and passionate people are. That’s why we can’t get away from each other, and that’s what we love and what we hate, and that’s what’s so difficult, and that’s what breaks our hearts.” —Madeline with Thomas Calder of The Collagist

Advanced Praise

“Madeline ffitch is a natural-born storyteller. Her irresistible voice doesn’t just entertain, it illuminates life’s mysteries like a flame in a cave. No one writes like ffitch. Every paragraph is packed with guts and heart. So real and tactile are these stories that I could smell the weird smells. I saw deep into the blood bonds of family. Trust these brave narrators! Befriend thieves, crawl woods, pick fights, steal cars, study turtles, shoot guns, stay true. Personality is power in this unflinching book; nature does what it will while ffitch’s words hum with wisdom.” —Rachel B. Glaser, author of Pee on Water “I’ve spent years enjoying Madeline ffitch’s words, encountering stories here and there, watching performances of her plays, but even all that delight couldn’t prepare me for the total joy of reading her first full-length book. These superb stories are an excellent introduction to ffitch’s distinctive sensibility : lively, curious, socially-engaged. She presents us with characters whose kindness, foibles, cruelty, and courage combine to form an expansive image of our imperfect species. Frighteningly observant and deeply funny, Valparaiso, Round the Horn feels at once classic and contemporary, like discovering a traditional song that perfectly recounts our current plight. And like that song, ffitch’s debut will rouse you, make you feel you are part of something larger, that—whatever our fate—we are headed to meet it together.” —Heather Christle, author of What Is Amazing “These stories read like tall tales dictated from the future , their narrators enthusiastically discarding the usual interpretations of events, the usual histories of people and place. Skewed, slanted, refracted and remade, Madeline ffitch’s America is one of legend, a country of misunderstanding and mistake and sudden majesty that I’m thrilled to have visited.” —Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods