Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Benbow’s home

Benbow’s home. Arden Benbow’s house located in Topanga Canyon, a rustic community in the Santa Monica Mountains west of Los Angeles. Arden’s large, run-down house sits on a half-acre lot. Its lawn is worn down from constant use by her resident children and dogs. Behind the house is a small barn in which three hundred rabbits live when they are not in their tunnels. Behind the barn is scrubby land marked by meandering paths and evergreen trees—a play area in which children’s imaginations can expand.

Even with a busy metropolitan freeway only a few minutes’ drive from the house, the whole spread is a world away emotionally from both the area’s suburbia of “ticky tacky” houses and the faux estates of the newly rich. Its ramshackle condition shows and symbolizes Arden’s lifestyle. As a poet and lesbian, and in other ways, she does not fit society’s image of an ideal mother.

The house and surrounding area are where Arden can feel most herself. In her scale of values, it is an excellent place for children to grow up. Others feel differently. When Arden’s ex-husband challenges her for custody of their six children, he cites the barnful of rabbits as proof of her instability. A social worker sent to observe the children is won over by the lively and welcoming atmosphere and the children’s obvious well-being and gives Arden a glowing recommendation as a parent.

Ruby’s Campground and Trailer Park


(The entire section is 622 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bann, Stephen. “Plots.” London Review of Books 4 (November 17, 1982): 22. Sees Faultline as a picaresque novel with an improbable plot. The satire is carefully calculated as part of an almost didactic tone of advocacy. The faultline promises eventual chaos and the rabbits suggest a family run wild, but Arden shows a new type of family in which various people live together happily in a kind of modulated chaos.

Publishers Weekly. Review of Faultline, by Sheila Ortiz Taylor. 221 (January 1, 1982): 48. Lists main characters and considers the novel to be comic and entertaining.

Small Press Review. Review of Faultline, by Sheila Ortiz Taylor. 14, no. 3 (March, 1982): 12. Praises novel as zesty, outrageous, and funny. Calls it a lesbian novel that takes the rest of the world in stride.

White, Gail. Review of Faultline, by Sheila Ortiz Taylor. Small Press Review 14, no. 11 (November, 1982): 1. Sees the novel as a hilarious kaleidoscope exploring Arden Benbow’s life through the eyes of a variety of witnesses. States that it is a lesbian novel only in the sense that it features gay characters. White considers the sexuality and politics to be peripheral issues.