IF MY BOOK: The Distance from Four Points, Margo Orlando Littell

Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Margo Orlando Littell writes about The Distance from Four Points, her latest novel from University of New Orleans Press.

If The Distance from Four Points were a day of the year, it would be the first day of deer hunting season, and you take a picture early in the morning of your eight-year-old daughter proudly holding her birthday gift: a pink-camo rifle. 

If The Distance from Four Points were a Facebook post, it would be a cryptic rant that doesn’t name names, but who are you kidding: it’s a small town. Everyone knows what happened, and most people were there.

If The Distance from Four Points were a birthday, it would be one with no significance, but it would also be the year that everything changes for the worse. 

If The Distance from Four Points were a dog treat, it would be an antler. Not those pre-packaged, high-priced ones, either—this one is hand hewn, so fresh it can’t get near the white carpet. (You’re not from around here, are you. You should see the look on your face.) 

If The Distance from Four Points were a pet brought in for show-and-tell, it would be a ferret. So many classmates have ferrets; as a child, you hold ferrets several times; but once you move away from home you never hear mention of ferrets again. You live the rest of your life in a city where owning a ferret is actually against the law.

If The Distance from Four Points were an unseasonal decoration, it would be a life-size plastic snowman glowing from an attic window. It stays up long past the holiday, through the winter, and you see it late at night when you drive home from waitressing, your little black apron rustling with tips. When it’s finally gone, you feel the absence as a reckoning.

If The Distance from Four Points were a terrible idea, it would be a homemade zipline from bedroom roof to above-ground pool.

If The Distance from Four Points were a gift, it would still wear the price tag.

If The Distance from Four Points were an eviction, the tenants wouldn’t go quietly. A lawyer, court dates, an armed constable are involved. You lose thousands of dollars in rent and legal fees, but you gain a dinner-party anecdote that involves the phrase “armed constable,” so have you really lost, after all?

If The Distance from Four Points were complicated moral outrage, it would involve an intense Sunday craving for Chick Fil-A.

Margo Orlando Littell’s first novel, Each Vagabond by Name, was published by University of New Orleans Press in 2016. She grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania and received an MFA from Columbia. After spending many years in New York City, Barcelona, and Northern California, she now lives in New Jersey with her family.