...a startling collection of essays, novels, artist books, and poems, edited by Lucy Ives, makes clear that Gins didn’t go for rote lyrical (or anti-lyrical) celebrations of language or comforting social narratives, but had more pressing goals. Employing a language equal parts phenomenology and microbiology, domestic-architectural intimacy and linguistic voracity, Gins’s literary ambition was nothing short of immunity ... Gins writes with an environmental foresight and formal virtuosity that can feel prophetic. Her texts—even with their midcentury cadences and wry urbanity, their suburban pathos and ludic conceptualism; Gertrude Stein seems the mothership, here—describe the perceiving reader/writer body’s interface with its environment as a kind of lungs, in which each thing, every particle, is taken in and breathed back out. Strange, then, how this writer-architect celebrated for attempting to design immortality magnifies in her writing the molecular moment, the myriadly coded present in all its tactility, puzzles of smell, and many small moves: reading, writing, eating, waiting, scratching, breathing. In a world tilted toward future gains, to futures in every sense, Gins’s literary oeuvre feels deeply anchored in the extant and its most proximate locales of isolation and communion.
...expertly edited and introduced by Lucy Ives ... No matter how abstract the text becomes, Gins never forgets our body reading ... It’s the gaps and fallibility of language that give it power in the hands of a reader willing to be confused; a reader willing to make meaning as both a writer and a reader, fully embodying the book. In these uncertain times of social isolation, when many of us will spend more time with a book, Gins’s writing captures what we crave from that experience—one that is physically and mentally all-encompassing. While The Reversible Destiny Project may not have succeeded in giving Gins or her partner eternal life, The Madeline Gins Reader does. With each reading we embody her words and write Gins anew, giving her life within the pages of the book and ourselves. 'I've read enough. I'll read more. I held the manuscript in my hand. I shook it. Not a word came out.'
The Saddest Thing Is that I Have Had to Use Words: A Madeline Gins Reader, edited by the novelist and critic Lucy Ives, is a gift: it brings back into print a great deal of work that has long been unavailable – including fiction, poetry, essays – as well as previously unpublished texts. It also makes a strong case for Gins’s importance as a writer and poet ... Her attention to both the sensuality and silliness afforded by wordplay is apparent in the exuberance of her writing but, just as importantly, a strain of melancholy runs throughout ... One of the real surprises and delights of The Saddest Thing Is that I Have Had to Use Words is the inclusion of early poems from the 1960s and ’70s, which have not been previously published ... This work didn’t quite fit into the literary landscape when it was written, and it doesn’t quite fit now. That’s because Gins was never concerned with being hyper-contemporary, nor with commenting directly on the day’s news. She was dedicated to a lifelong exploration of duration and ephemerality. While her architecture remains better known, that’s only one part of the story – this generous selection of texts is an opportunity to engage with the full scope of her thinking.