In Lauren Gordon’s latest work, Fiddle is Flood, just released from Blood Pudding Press, the book series and TV show Little House on the Prairie is framed in a new literary context. However, even though there are some echoes and references to Little House on the Prairie, Gordon uses many gruesome, gross and surprising images that were never present in the family-friendly series, like in the poem “The Pig’s Death Squeal”: “we ate his brains/blew his bladder to a balloon kiss/Pa lets little girls eat the curly/curly tails,” or the oddly dark and malicious portrait of God in poems like “Sister’s Sightless Eyes”: “and God hates a liar/God/God hates/God.”
Also interesting to me is the fact that this collection does not have more narrative elements, given its inspiration was a prose narrative. There weren’t many elements of prose at all here. In fact, the book is rife with disjointed, broken lines, enjambments, and lack of punctuation, which perhaps enhances Lauren Gordon’s murky re-imagining of the original story of Little House on the Prairie. This differing form leads me to ask who the narrator of these poems are, if it is the same narrator as the novelized Little House on the Prairie, and if the narrator remains consistent throughout the text. It seems so, though I was baffled by the one modern reference of Minnie Driver (“…my spirit grass/laid flatter than Minnie Driver’s chest”). I am wondering what the purpose of this reference is, and why there weren’t other references like this in other poems. It would have been interesting for me to see the effect of such references, and how they might affect the text as a whole.
Also important to notice is the presence of many lines of poetry written by Alfred Lord Tennyson, which Lauren Gordon said she included because he was a favorite writer of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the original writer of Little House on the Prairie. There is a kind of literary roundtable going on here; Laura Ingalls Wilder, Tennyson, the writers of the television series, and Gordon herself communicating with each other across generations and experiences, and reexamining the same story from differing viewpoints. Perhaps Gordon is making reference to this in “Last Summer I Found God in the River”: “what clings, what stays/the noise we make in ink.” Yes, it seems that the stories we tell and record in ink are some of the few relics we carry with us consistently through time.