Scott Blackwood has published two novels, a story collection, and two narrative nonfiction books. His most recent novel, SEE HOW SMALL, won the 2016 PEN USA Award for Fiction, and was named a “great reads” best book of 2015 by NPR and an Editor’s Choice pick by The New York Times. His previous novel, WE AGREED TO MEET JUST HERE, earned him a 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award, the AWP Prize for the Novel, The Texas Institute of Letters Award for best work of fiction, and was a finalist for the PEN USA Award in fiction. The New York Times called his first book, IN THE SHADOW OF OUR HOUSE, “acute, nimble stories…an impressive, accomplished debut.” Blackwood, a former Dobie-Paisano Fellowship recipient, has published stories and nonfiction in American Short Fiction, Gettysburg Review, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, Southwest Review, The New York Times, Chicago magazine, and been anthologized in Janet Burroway’s Imaginative Writing. His nonfiction piece, “Here We Are,” was nominated for a 2016 National Magazine Award for best narrative feature writing. Blackwood’s two narrative nonfiction books, THE RISE AND FALL OF PARAMOUNT RECORDS, VOLUMES I & II—published by musician Jack White’s Third Man—tell the curious tale of a white-owned “Race record” label that began in a Wisconsin chair factory and changed American popular music forever, giving rise to some of the most influential Black voices of the 20th Century—Ma Rainey, Jelly Roll Morton, Alberta Hunter, Louis Armstrong, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Charley Patton. Blackwood was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award for his writing on Volume I and featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, Sound Opinions, and in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone and elsewhere. He lives in Austin, Texas and teaches in the MFA program at Southern Illinois University.
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Order See How Small (Fourth Estate /HarperCollins U.K. edition) here
This little gem of a book puts on lush display Scott Blackwood’s talent for measuring and connecting the previously un-connectable in lived experience, and making of it an entirely new whole which we immediately accept as true, natural, exhilarating, even inevitable. He is a lovely sentence writer, and this first novel sparkles with invention.
A sense of imminent and unskirtable dread hangs over Texas native Scott Blackwood’s finely wrought first novel, We Agreed to Meet Just Here…a triumph of language and atmospherics and–as we’re drawn deeper into the characters’ private worlds, hallucinations, and dreams–a travelogue of unfamiliar emotional terrain.
Entering Blackwood’s debut novel is like plunging straight into a dense, white fog. You have to keep your arms up, because you know something is coming, even if you can’t see it. And Blackwood plumbs that sense of dreadful anticipation for all it’s worth in this numinous, abbreviated tale of suburban woe.
Long after you’ve closed the book, you’ll find yourself haunted by…random passages, like the leaping man from the helicopter who forever falls in the mind of the pilot. But for all the novel’s fleeting, almost ghostly quality, its crowded telling leaves a reader with ears ringing, wanting more.
We Agreed to Meet Just Here is not a story about redemption, and it is not a story about making peace and meaning out of terrible events. Instead, this lyrical portrait of mystery and longing functions like a piece of music—a sad piece of music that gives voice to a yearning that is both general and specific. The narrative voice alternates between the songs of soloists and the swell of the full choir. Blackwood constructs his movements like a conductor, artfully choosing scenes that echo each other…
As we enter debut novelist Scott Blackwood’s intimate world, Winnie Lipsy is sitting in her backyard in Austin, staring up into a tree. She’s not bird-watching, but imploring her 8-year-old son to please come down before he falls and breaks his arm. Isaac falls, breaks his arm. That’s about the only thing predictable about the Texas writer’s revelatory debut novel, which builds on the solid foundation of Blackwood’s 2001 story collection “In the Shadow of Our House.” What’s most amazing about “We agreed to meet just here” — the title pops into the hit-and-run driver’s mind when Natalie, smiling, “explodes in the Blazer’s highbeams” — is Blackwood’s trenchant and expedient use of ideas and language.
Scott Blackwood’s new novel, We Agreed to Meet Just Here, manages somehow to be both spare and all-encompassing, a mystery that delves into the very nature of disappearance: Once gone, is anyone ever really gone? Blackwood proves himself a master of connection; he depicts with almost miraculous brevity (the book is only 164 pages long) how seemingly unrelated events, actions, even thoughts, dangle strings that eventually get caught up in one another and weave a community together…
THE title story in this impressive and accomplished debut collection imagines the emotional ache of … MORE >
Blackwood penetrates life’s shadows with disarming candor, piercing the gloom Of contemporary domesticity in … MORE >
A strong debut collection about family disasters and betrayals explores ordinary dramas extraordinarily. Forced change … MORE >
It’s an impressive object, the Cabinet [of Wonder], with the heft of a hellhound, but the true revelations arrive in the narratives held in this first of two volumes, released in November. The market is filled with so-called definitive box sets. Few, however, bring the musical past to life in such a surprising and revealing way…
Interview and Reading s from The Rise and Fall on NPR.
Interview with Dean and Scott Blackwood.
Through scrupulous research, audacious design, and ostentatious packaging, this two-volume collection’s first installment does precisely what the best box sets intend to do—add proper deference and context to music that remains vital and significant…at once, it’s a history lesson, a dance hall, a bandstand, and a smoky blues parlor, all tucked neatly into one sturdy box. This is the Cabinet of Wonder, indeed… In the beginning and, really, throughout most of the label’s history, the executives at Paramount and its parent company did not seem to understand the important trove they were building…That same oblivion resulted in the incomplete records and the destruction of the label’s archives when it went belly-up, a scene vividly limned by Scott Blackwood in the wondrous [Paramount book]. Such retrospective ignorance makes the trove of The Rise and Fall that much more remarkable, valuable, and edifying. This is almost-lost history, faithfully restored.
Blackwood provides less an exhaustive history than a poetic, character-driven account that evokes a mood and context through which to understand Paramount’s impact and the tableau of Chicago amidst the Great Migration. Building from the academic work of co-producer Alex van der Tuuk’s 2003 book Paramount’s Rise and Fall, Blackwood casts a scene and atmosphere, his lyrical sketches of artists and settings inspiring more potential stories to be further pursued than answers…the text becomes a threshold for entry into the music and the exhaustive catalog of period artwork in the cabinet. An extraordinary project…