The dark side of racing: Kick the Latch, by Kathryn Scanlan, reviewed

Kathryn Scanlan’s second novel Kick the Latch is adapted from the transcript of an interview with a family friend in her native Iowa. Its narrator, Sonia, looks back on her years as a racetrack hand in a series of vignettes. She recounts run-ins with violent men, a freak accident that put her in a coma, and interactions with assorted rural eccentrics, such as Bicycle Jenny, a notoriously pongy gardener who owns 70 chihuahuas, and Johnny Block, who keeps a pet crow and ‘some ferrets’. Animals ran amok on the trailer parks where she lived: ‘As soon as you stepped out your door the goose would come and – bam! –