What is interesting to me in Kind One is the layers constructed by Laird Hunt. We are presented with a few italicized sentences before the “Overture,” and ending with “When the night stretched before us, she opened her tale,” Hunt prepares the reader for a story to follow that that this mysterious “she” has seemed to have told before: “In the evening she would tell it,” to whoever her “suffering” audience is. Hunt gives us the year (1830) in which the overture takes place, so the reader can contextualize the following chapter. The story is simple, and the characters seem a little disconnected: “I was happy when I could hear the baby…Once my wife came and held the baby over the mouth of the hole so that she could see her father.” No names are ever mentioned in this chapter, although a disconnect from the actual story was not felt by me; I was interested the whole time.
The first couple of pages from the next section made me think we were going back in time, and I would have not been hindered to think that if Hunt had not included the years 1911, 1850s, and 1861 on the “title page” of this section. On page 19, when Ginny Lancaster introduces herself, my curiosity of the overture grew – who were those people in the overture? Did they exist? Or perhaps they stand in as symbols or a metaphor for the events that follow.
To move back to what I was talking about in regards to layering, we know that Ginny is no longer with Linus, and has moved on to a new place: “They don’t all call me Scary here. That’s just the younger ones. The name I gave when I came up out of Kentucky and floated my sorry way north was just Sue.” (31) This makes me ask more questions, including is Ginny the mysterious “she” in the very first paragraph I mentioned? If not, will we be introduced to the character who is? I am very intrigued by this novel already and the depth to which Laird Hunt has constructed it.