Kathryn Scanlan Presents Kick the Latch, in conversation with Liza St. James

 
Thursday
September 29th
7pm

 
McNally Jackson Seaport
RSVP Required — see below
 

About one woman’s fine, hard life at the racetrack, Kick the Latch–with its ruthless concision and artful mysteries–is lightning in a bottle. 

Kathryn Scanlan’s Kick the Latch vividly captures the arc of one woman’s life at the racetrack—the flat land and ramshackle backstretch; the bad feelings and friction; the winner’s circle and the racetrack bar; the fancy suits and fancy boots; and the “particular language” of “grooms, jockeys, trainers, racing secretaries, stewards, pony people, hotwalkers, everybody”—with economy and integrity.

Based on transcribed interviews with Sonia, a horse trainer, the novel investigates form and authenticity in a feat of synthesis reminiscent of Charles Reznikoff’s Testimony. As Scanlan puts it, “I wanted to preserve—amplify, exaggerate—Sonia’s idiosyncratic speech, her bluntness, her flair as a storyteller. I arrived at what you could call a composite portrait of a self.” Whittled down with a fiercely singular artistry, Kick the Latch bangs out of the starting gate and carries the reader on a careening joyride around the inside track.  

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. — Lydia Davis

Scanlan’s inventive novel documents a woman’s hardscrabble yet jubilant life and her dedication to working with racehorses. Shaped from interview transcripts with a real-life trainer named Sonia (no last name given), Scanlan’s vignettes carry readers across the arc of Sonia’s life...but the most beautiful moments are quiet ones, in which Sonia processes the choices she and others have made, and of the consequences she faces in a field dominated by men. With this sharp and lovely tribute to a singular woman, Scanlan continues to impress. 
— Publishers Weekly

 

 

 

We recommend that guests wear masks on the night. 


Kathryn Scanlan received a 2021 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for “exceptional accomplishment” in literature. Leslie Jamison wrote in the New Yorker that "Scanlan writes about ordinary life in extraordinary ways by compacting it radically, like pressurizing carbon into diamonds." Her story collection The Dominant Animal was named a Best Book of 2020 by The Guardian, Southwest Review, and Publishers Weekly, and her first book, Aug 9—Fog, was praised in a starred review by Publishers Weekly as “an outstanding debut, profound and moving: Scanlan’s portrait of an everywoman feels entirely new.” She lives in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

 

Liza St. James's fiction has appeared in New York Tyrant, 128 Lit, Tin House, and other publications. She is a senior editor at NOON and a contributing editor at BOMB.

 

 

 

 

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