Kick the Latch


Product Details

$17.95  $16.69
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
4.72 X 7.23 X 0.46 inches | 0.26 pounds

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About the Author

Kathryn Scanlan received a 2021 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for "exceptional accomplishment" in literature. 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.


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.--Amy Hempel
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
Reviews of Kathryn Scanlan's The Dominant Animal:

Their mood and imagery are lasting, and reflective of brutal truths of the commerce of human civilization . . . chilling, finely tuned pieces on power and survival.-- "The Los Angeles Times"
Lean and mean: the young American author's audacious deployment of lacunae is a measure of her singular artistry. These are sentences written in stone--to be read out loud or learned by heart.--Andrew Gallix "The Irish Times"
A deeply enjoyable book, atmospheric with fear and shock, threat and disorientation. Through the power of her vision, Scanlan takes hold of the world and gives it to the reader with an intensity that is, paradoxically, both strange and familiar . . . Scanlan requires that the reader remain sharply vigilant: a feeling that lingers long after finishing the book and will, perhaps, be part of what draws people back.--David Hayden "The Guardian"
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"
Kick the Latch, a short, absorbing novel about a racetrack horse informed by a series of conversations with the real Sonia, who Scanlan met through her mother, and it has a blunt, vivid idiom that renders gore and beauty with similar clarity. That idiom is informed by Sonia's own voice: "I wanted to preserve -- amplify, exaggerate -- Sonia's idiosyncratic speech," Scanlan says. The book feels like an interview, and it's impressive what Scanlan does within that frame, especially with animals that serve as proxies for humans in their embodiment of power, independence, and humiliation.--Erin Schwartz "Vulture"
Kathryn Scanlan's words will mark you. Her work is sharp, deliberate, and poised--rife with subtly peculiar language.--Crow Jonah Norlander "Bomb Magazine"
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"