Kathryn Scanlan has performed a magical act of empathic ventriloquy in Kick the Latch. This immediate, engrossing immersion in another life and world, so personally and passionately told, is compulsively readable.
I have been following Kathryn Scanlan’s original voice for years. In her new venture—an unusually intimate, clear-eyed portrait of a tough and engaging woman conveyed in revelatory vignettes—every word is essential.
Kick the Latch is pure exhilaration. No one works with fineness, with exactitude, with the beating heart of fiction and of life, quite like Kathryn Scanlan.
Scanlan writes about ordinary life in extraordinary ways by compacting it radically, like pressurizing carbon into diamonds. When Sonia describes the force absorbed by a single hoof in every stride of a horse’s gallop—“a thousand pounds of pressure held up by that one thin leg”—she could also be describing Scanlan’s syntax: compact phrases holding so much pressure. The work is structured by recurring themes: the violence and pleasures of intimacy, the balm and exhaustion of hard work, our bonds with animals and with our own animal natures—those surges of desire and aggression that unseat and rearrange us.
—Leslie Jamison, The New Yorker