Pati Hill, “One Thing I Know”
  • Text by Pati Hill
  • Afterword by Baptiste Pinteaux
  • Designed by Ana Baliza
  •  
  • July 2022, English, Literature
  • 108 pp., 12 × 18 cm, softcover
  • Edition of 600
  • ISBN 978-2-9576611-2-1
  •  
  • The cover of this edition of ‘‘One Thing I Know’’, based on the original dust jacket of the first 1962 hardcover edition, faithfully reproduces the title in Pati Hill’s own handwriting.
  •  
  • €10, forthcoming
  •  

‘‘One thing I know, I will never be in love again,’’ writes Francesca Hollins in her diary. She is sixteen and neither Danny, a young boyfriend already haunted by bourgeois dreams, nor her mother, a woman she believes lacks all imagination, can convince her otherwise. This novel recounts how Francesca discovers an unexpected definition of her independence, something Diane Arbus perceived when she wrote to Hill: ‘‘I am more than ever convinced and maybe [Francesca] is too, that people are born old and that disenchantment is more a beginning than an end in itself… I think life has absolutely to be lived backwards and there is no covenient shortcut like forwards.’’

 

I was 15 years old and devastated losing my summer boyfriend (ok it was 2 weeks). I picked up this little gem of a story and I somehow felt better. I understood Francesca and longed for Graham to come back to her. It’s one of those rare books you can’t return to the library because it becomes a part of you. Years later I noticed the author’s dedication at the front of the book and instantly elements in the story took on new meaning. It was dedicated to Diane Arbus, well known art photographer.
—Andrea Barol, goodreads.com

“I will be never be in love again”—so reads an entry from a diary kept by Francesca Hollins and the experience which led to this conviction is reviewed a year later here. A child of divorce, Francesca is 15 when she meets Graham von Liddle at school, Graham who shares her interest in Art and sounds more highminded than he proves to be and certainly very temporary once Gloria attaches herself to him. There are other defections too; their mutual friend Danny gets married; her mother’s lover heads west; but hardest to hear is not Graham’s loss—but the lose of someone to love… This short novel is about as ephemeral as the brief experience with which it deals and in all its artful prattle one can suspect a certain disingenuousness. Still—there is more than a little humor and a certain , more demure to be sure than that of Sagan and other youthful contemporaries.
—Unknown, kirkusreviews.com

Pati Hill was born in 1921 in Ashland, Kentucky (USA) and died in 2014 in Sens, France. After a short but dazzling career as a model, between 1951 and 1962 she wrote a dozen short stories — several of which were published in George Plimpton’s prestigious literary journal, The Paris Review — and five books which earned her real critical recognition. Hill published One Thing I Know in 1962 after becoming a mother. She was then forty-one years old, and would later claim to have decided at that time to “stop writing in favour of housekeeping.’’         

There is a lot to be said for this statement. Let’s start by qualifying its scope. Whilst it is true that she published no work for thirteen years, Hill continued to write. She also opened an antique shop. But above all it was during this period that Hill began her first plastic experiments with a photocopier. This lead her to publish, in 1974, a collection of poems with an unambiguous title, Slave Days, in which her first works appeared: xerographs of household objects that seem to float in indistinct space. At fifty, Pati Hill began a career as an artist which led her to exhibit in France and the United States, creating a considerable body of work, over nearly 40 years, made up of thousands of photocopies, texts and drawings. When she died in 2014, her complete archive was transferred to Arcadia University, Glenside, Pennsylvania.

Long ignored, the work of Pati Hill now enjoys new critical interest. It was the subject of a trilogy of exhibitions organized by Baptiste Pinteaux in 2021: at the galleries Air de Paris, Paris (FR), Treize, Paris (FR), and Ampersand, Lisbon (PT). Hill’s work was also the subject of institutional exhibitions the same year at Kunstverein München and Kunsthalle Zürich. A major body of her work, Alphabet of the Common Object, was recently presented in a group exhibition at the Whitney Museum, New York (USA).

One Thing I Know is the first of Hill’s writings to be republished since her death. 

 

Pati Hill photocopying daisies on an IBM Copier II, 1980.