“Evidence of Old Repairs”
“Evidence of Old Repairs” appears in Jessica Francis Kane’s second collection, This Close (Graywolf Press). Kane is the author of Bending Heaven (Counterpoint Press, 2002), her first story collection, and a novel, The Report, a finalist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her stories have appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s, A Public Space, Granta, and other journals. She lives in New York City.
Kane said this about the piece: When I wrote this story, I was living in London and walking to work every morning across Hyde Park with my husband. We entered at Kensington Gardens and walked west along the north edge of the park until the Italian Fountains. There we turned and followed the Long Water past the Serpentine to the Dell, where we continued west on a diagonal path, finally exiting near Hyde Park Corner. The whole walk took about an hour and we did it every weekday morning for three years. Bits and pieces of many things observed during that daily ritual have found their way into stories.
“Evidence” started with a woman I saw wearing a very nice raincoat, squatting low on the path, her hand extended to feed a squirrel. She looked busy, on her way to work, yet determined to feed this squirrel. I wondered what she was trying to prove. After that, this particular story came fast, a sort of electric current suddenly tracing a path through years of seemingly disparate memories and impressions. The final piece was finding the title in a remote room of the Victoria and Albert Museum. I pulled out a drawer of old lace and there it was – “Evidence of Old Repairs” – a label referring to work done long ago.
Kevin O’Kelly, writing in the Rumpus, said of the collection: A couple of careless words or a moment of silence at exactly the wrong time reveals the respect that will never be given or the love that will never happen. What would sound like a random snippet of conversation to an accidental eavesdropper is actually a life falling apart. It would be useless to quote any of my favorite passages, because their power is the cumulative result of Kane’s deft development of narrative and character in the previous pages.