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KICK THE LATCH by Kathryn Scanlan
Growing up, I had a strange relationship with horse racing. My grandfather was really into it - he studied the form guide, went to the track or the TAB, placed bets. It was one of his great hobbies. Some of my fondest memories of him revolve around Melbourne Cup time, when he’d bring me into that world, like a kindly sage, give me fifty cents and help me bet. Even when I had grown to appreciate the horrors of the industry, I kept it up, if only for that day. What can I say? Tradition.
I now wonder what he’d have made of Scanlan’s latest, effectively the ghostwritten memoir of a woman’s life on the tracks. Raw, often brutal, but always deeply humane, Kick The Latch is the most honest depiction I’ve read of the inner workings of a world we usually only glimpse on its glitzy surface or at its cruellest underbelly. It’s all there to see: the mundane daily slog, the strict hierarchy, the savage sexism, the violence, the hazing and, of course, the thrill of the race. A fragmentary tale, hitched together with a hard-won dignity. Once again, Scanlan confounds as much as she compels.
Kick the Latch by Kathryn Scanlan
New Directions, 2022