What Writers Are Saying about Fudge Day
Fudge Day is a fine, yet subtle, example of a Bildungsroman. Rich Skalstad’s characters are unique and freshly crafted, though very familiar. This novella explores the complexities of relationships of a family during the Thanksgiving holiday. It is a story in many ways that punctuates the season, but ultimately transcends that marker and through the revelations of the character speaks universal truths. This is the kind of story that I am always in search of and, like the comfort of certain holiday traditions, one that I will enjoy visiting again.
Dan Morris holds the PhD in English and creative writing from the University of Southern Mississippi and currently teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. A chapbook of his poetry, Following the Day, was published by Pudding House in 2007. His poems have appeared in such journals as Xavier Review, Rock and Sling, California Quarterly, Poetry South, StringTown, and Red Rock Review. Dan has published several poems in The Southern Poetry Anthology and will be volume co-editor of a forthcoming edition of the series focusing on Alabama’s poets. He is also in the planning stages to co-edit a volume featuring contemporary poetry of the Pacific Northwest, as well as an edition of critical essays exploring Richard Hugo’s poetics. He is the senior editor for Town Creek Poetry.
Rich Skalstad’s poignant novella highlights a single mother’s bond with her only daughter through literature and films—the mythology of our era. Audrey is a precocious seventh-grader already steeped in the genres and languages her mother, Mitzi, absorbed while growing up in and around the California film industry before her family moved to Spokane, Washington, a quantum leap away. Mitzi works in a local law library while trying to finish a novel that never gets done. Meanwhile, she reads and watches television with the eyes of a seasoned critic bent on imparting life through art to her impressionable daughter. Audrey, for Audrey Hepburn, but nicknamed Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, manages to separate her own interpretations of the greater mythology bound within her extended family as personalities collide at their Thanksgiving celebration hosted every year by Grandpa Halfdan—still Norwegian after all these years. Audrey begins her transition to adulthood by accommodating her mother’s eccentricities in a creative folklore of her own.
Penelope Rundle is the author of Last Caravan, Touring Afghanistan During the 1978 April Revolution. She was born in Atlanta, Georgia. She has traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, and Asia. She studied at the Sorbonne. She has a bachelor’s degree in French and journalism, a master’s degree in Spanish from Simmons College, a law degree from Suffolk University, and a master of public health from Harvard. She worked many years as an attorney in Atlanta, and currently lives in Spokane, Washington, with her husband, Doug Rundle.
If Harriet the Spy and Mrs. Dalloway had a love child, it would be Fudge Day. The complex relationship between single mother and writer Mitzi and teenage intellectual Audrey will resonate with readers young and old.
Jessy Randall is the Curator of Special Collections at Colorado College. Her poems and other works have appeared in Asimov’s, Many Mountains Moving, McSweeney’s, Mudfish, Opium, Painted Bride Quarterly, Rattle, and Sentence. Her collection of poems, A Day in Boyland, was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. She is the author of the young adult novel, The Wandora Unit, about love and friendship in the high school poetry crowd. Interruptions is her collaborative collection of poems with Daniel M. Shapiro. Her most recent book of poetry is Injecting Dreams into Cows from Red Hen. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and two children.
Although the narrator of Fudge Day is seventh-grader Audrey, this novella is not your typical pre-teen read. Fudge Day is filled with surprising moments of humor, and rich with literary, television, film, and theatrical allusions encased in diction more resembling that of an intelligent, adult artist than what would traditionally be expected of our young Audrey, or “Scout” as her mother calls her. The daughter of an eccentric writer mother whose understanding of reality seamlessly weaves together her own life with the lives and experiences of fictional characters, Audrey struggles to invent her own identity in contrast to that of her mother, or “Mitzi” as she calls her. And as is the case with most girls who set forth on this voyage, what Scout wants and needs to discover is that she, too, like her mother and her mother before her is an eccentric woman in her own right. Fudge Day is a story about family, identity, and ultimately the power of imagination to not re-invent our lives, but to enrich it with possibilities, to enable the empathy we humans need to understand each other, our families, and ourselves.
Michelle Bonczek holds a PhD from Western Michigan University, an MFA from Eastern Washington University, and an MA from SUNY Brockport. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and magazines, including Crazyhorse, Cream City Review, Green Mountains Review, Margie, Orion, the Progressive, and Water~Stone Review. She currently lives in Syracuse, New York, and teaches at Onondaga Community College.
Parents often force their children into their path, and the children often revolt. Fudge Day is a novella from Rich Skalstad, who tells of a few women trying to find what they want out of their lives. Mitzi and Audrey both face turning points in their lives, a mother who cannot have her daughter forever, and a daughter who realizes she can never cut her mother out of her life. …
The Midwest Book Review
Fudge Day is a stream-of-consciousness fun ride through a girl’s mind. Audrey’s story is inspired by single-parent upbringing in a home where her mother, Mitzi, is a writer. This upbringing included a diet of great literature, especially Kerouac. The wonderful part about Audrey’s stream of consciousness is that it is infused with so much love. But Joyce, Wolff, and Kerouac didn’t do that with their characters. With them, there was distance. Audrey’s thoughts are much like the main action of the book—a Thanksgiving dinner. Guests and distant relatives arrive simultaneously from every direction, each with different thoughts and concerns and then they all try to catch up and laugh about old times. I love how Audrey finds all these different strands fascinating and loves them each like stuffed animals.
When I was a child I remember how much fun all the energy of Thanksgiving was, not the obligation it’s become as an adult. This book is the pure crazy mixture of a party from a non-judgmental, non-linear perspective of a child in love with her family. I walked away from this book with a perspective of joy. A great gift, just like a pan of fudge made unexpectedly made by someone you love.
Scott Poole is the house poet for Live Wire!, a weekly radio variety show on Oregon Public Broadcasting that airs throughout the Pacific Northwest and has expanded to Public Broadcasting stations across the U.S. in cities such as Boston and Cleveland and Chicago. He was one of the founding directors of Get Lit!, the Spokane, Washington, book festival, and was the founding director of Wordstock, the Portland, Oregon, book festival. Currently, he is a software developer and lives in Vancouver, Washington. He is the author of three books of poetry, The Cheap Seats, Hiding from Salesmen, and The Sliding Glass Door. Scott’s audiobook of The Sliding Glass Door is available at Colonus Publishing.Com.