From rainy Paris, to Hyde Park and busy Manhattan, we are plunged right into other people’s worlds as characters struggle with the unspoken secrets of relationships and what it means to feel ‘at home’. When newly-weds look after a plush house in Washington they get carried away redesigning a home that isn’t theirs. In ‘First Sale’ a boy helplessly watches his mother attempt a new start by selling off all their belongings; and in ‘Evidence of Old Repairs’, a mother’s need, both at home and abroad, is almost too much for her daughter to bear. In New York a publicist almost loses the will to live, while in Seattle an author has a paralysing fear of exposure. These are graceful, varied and exciting stories where characters constantly attempt new beginnings, setting out with heartfelt resolutions that are sometimes humorous, often calamitous. As the characters shift lives, loves and homes there are enduring predicaments – how do we reconcile the anguish of understanding ourselves all too well, and master the trick of balancing dreams against a lack of faith in the future?
“Bending Heaven is that rarest of debut collections: grounded but thoughtful, learned without being pretentious. Jessica Francis Kane’s 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…. Bending Heaven feels like the work of a writer who has a lot more to say.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Jessica Francis Kane’s first short story collection appeals to the part of us interested in, or resonating with, the disillusioned and discontent…. [Her] 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
“Kane exercises enviable restraint as she quietly brings these stories to a boil.” —BookForum
“If you love short stories, you’ll remember the first time you were seduced by something perfectly small and quiet. Maybe it was Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Bliss,’ or Hemingway’s ‘Hills Like White Elephants.’ Such seductive quiet is in Jessica Francis Kane’s debut collection, Bending Heaven.” —Dallas Morning News