This Close

Jessica Francis Kane, Author
Jessica Francis Kane. Graywolf, $15 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-55597-636-1
Reviewed on: 01/21/2013
Release date: 03/05/2013
Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-55597-066-6
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Kane’s second collection of stories (after The Report) is steeped in family and community anxiety and often dazzles. Stand-alone stories separate two suites of linked tales, and though these are exceptionally well written, others, like the detached “Lucky Boy,” rely on somewhat contrived premises—in this case, a visit to a dry cleaners that evolves into a strange owner/patron relationship—that don’t quite lead to genuine surprise. Much stronger are the stories that fill the volume’s second half, for here Kane inhabits the psyche of those at risk, with terrific results. Published in slightly different form in Bending Heaven, Kane’s first collection, the reworked “Evidence of Old Repairs” finds a woman desperately trying to create a keepsake memory for her daughter, while the collection’s closing trio of stories—“The Stand-In,” “The Old Beginning,” and “Local Birds”—slowly peel away a family’s layers of connection over 20-odd years of experience. Kane’s greatest achievement, however, is the stunning “Next in Line,” a smart, heartbreaking entry that chronicles a mourning mother who loiters at a local CVS pharmacy, convinced that a touch from the grim reaper, disguised as a woman in a black pant suit, led to her daughter’s death. (Mar. 5)
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