Scott Blackwood is an award-winning author based in Chicago. See full bio.
New York Times Book Review The title story in this impressive and accomplished debut collection imagines the emotional ache of the doctor in Jonestown, Guyana, who discovered the followers of Jim Jones after they drank that infamous cyanide-laced punch … Read More
We Agreed to Meet Just Here: Chapter 1 The river winds through the cedar and oak clotted hills west of our city. Along its limestone bluffs, where Tonkawa Indians once lived, now sprawl lavish Mediterranean-style homes. Gazing from the terraced deck… Read More
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In the Shadow of Our House is an award-winning collection of nine thematically linked stories where people live on the cusp of the past and present, saddled with the knowledge that “sometimes what you’re thinking can’t be dovetailed with what you do.”
“If you had lived long on our street, and drunk late at our parties…” Read More
Winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award for fiction, the AWP Prize for the novel, and Texas Institute of Letters Award, We Agreed to Meet Just Here is a lyrical mystery that delves into the very nature of disappearance. Once gone, is anyone ever really gone? A young lifeguard vanishes one night while returning from a screening of the Third Man. A doctor and survivor of the Jonestown tragedy goes missing from his home and is later seen bearded and ragged, wandering the aisles of a grocery store. A child is given up for adoption, another is lost up a tree. Its characters vanish from the landscape, from each other, from themselves only to reappear in strange and surprising ways.
“The river winds through the cedar and oak clotted hills west of our city…”Read More
See How Small: a novel
(Little Brown, 2014) Startling and revelatory, See How Small chronicles the lives of those left behind after an inexplicable tragedy—the seemingly random murders of three teenage girls—and their struggles to tell their own stories in the face of it. Each is shadowed by the promise of the past restored and the terrible beauty of their dreams, where they might bridge the gap between the living and the dead.
“We have always lived here, though we pretend we’ve just arrived…” Read More
The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume I
NPR’s Weekend Edition Story A lyrical nonfiction narrative about the curious rise of Paramount Records, a white owned “race music” label which began in a Grafton, Wisconsin chair factory and created arguably the greatest archive of popular music in American history. Paramount–despite its cheapness, bumbling ways, and willful ignorance of its black audience–recorded such early jazz and blues greats as Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Ma Rainey, Alberta Hunter, Ethel Waters, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, Skip James, and Son House, and changed American music and culture forever. Read More
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 >
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…
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…
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…