Synopses & Reviews
This Close, a graceful, moving new collection by the author of The Report
*An NPR and Flavorwire Best Book of the Year *
How close can we come to love, success, happiness, forgiveness?
An older woman, irritated with her wealthy young neighbors yard “improvements,” offers a corner of her lawn to a Croatian immigrant who wants a vegetable garden. A recent college graduate living in New York City finds himself in a strangely entangled friendship with his dry cleaner and her son. A daughter accompanies her father to Israel, where, seeing a new side of him away from her mother, she makes an unusual bargain.
Through thirteen stories, some stand-alone, others woven with linked characters, Kane questions the tensions between friendship and neighborliness, home and travel, family and ambition. In writing filled with wit and humor and incredible poignancy, she deftly reveals the everyday patterns that, over time, can swerve a life off course.
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Praise for Jessica Francis Kane:
“Jessica Francis Kanes stories take place in what feels like Lorrie Moore and Alice Munro country—they smartly uncork the heartache, panic and frustration of characters caught in situations that expose their vulnerability.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Neat, sharp, observant, and with a good ear, so that she hits the note every time…. Shes discerned the enormous gap between what people say and do, and what is actually going on inside them, and in that gap she moves swiftly and nimbly.”—Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall
“Kanes sparse but poignant writing satisfies, and our intimate access to her characters and their heartrending stories will convince even the optimist that some sad stories need telling.”—San Francisco Chronicle
Praise for This Close: "The stories in Jessica Francis Kane's This Close are full of wisdom and light. Her characters felt as intimate and real to me as life. Her prose is so generous and knowing it shimmers. I'll return to this beautiful book again and again."—Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things"This Close is timeless, humane, vulnerable, and compulsively readable. Jessica Francis Kane has a fierce, keen eye and a gentle, sure touch. I devoured this collection. More, please..."—Jennifer Gilmore, author of Something Red and Golden Country"Jessica Francis Kane distills lives into moments, helping us to better understand the world within a few pages' time. Luckily for us, her devoted readers, there are twelve stories in this crystalline collection, some of them circling back to the same characters, all of them deepening our appreciation for this amazing writer. Kane's prose is precise, searing, and unafraid, and days after finishing the book, I still don't want to let This Close out of my sight."—Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures"Kane's second collection shows the author's talent for dissecting the subtle dynamics of family life. . . . The stories in [This Close] have an appeal reminiscent of Chekhov's plays."—Library Journal"Kane's second collection of stories (after The Report) is steeped in family and community anxiety and often dazzles. . . Kane inhabits the psyche of those at risk, with terrific results."—Publishers Weekly"Readers of Kane's well-received debut novel, The Report, will recognize her steady hand and welcome another opportunity to experience her carefully crafted work. Intriguing, delicate, graceful, and deeply moving, this is a collection to be read and pondered over. It will draw readers into worlds both foreign and familiar while turning the everyday into something extraordinary."—Booklist
About the Author
Jessica Francis Kanes first novel, The Report, was a Barnes & Noble Discover selection and a finalist for both the Center for Fictions 2010 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and the Indie Booksellers Choice Award. She is a contributor to The Morning News and lives in New York City.