Scott Blackwood is the author of the novels SEE HOW SMALL, a New York Times ”Editor’s Choice” pick and a 2015 Best New Book selection by both Amazon and People Magazine, and WE AGREED TO MEET JUST HERE, which won 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 Center 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.” His work has appeared in American Short Fiction, Gettysburg Review, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, Southwest Review, Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Journal and been anthologized in Janet Burroway’s Imaginative Writing. Scott’s two narrative nonfiction books, THE RISE AND FALL OF PARAMOUNT RECORDS, VOLUMES I & II—produced by Jack White—tell the curious tale of a white-owned “Race record” label that began in a Wisconsin chair factory and changed American popular music forever. Scott was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award for 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. Scott teaches fiction writing in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Southern Illinois University.
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“A brutal, necessary, and near perfect novel” — NPR
“Superb…in prose that’s as fine as any being written by an American author today, Blackwood plumbs the depths of a story that is alternately haunting, terrifying, and achingly tragic“ —Ben Fountain
“Rarely has a novel ever captured so well the psychic landscape of trauma, which is rendered as a series of visions, ruminations and endless, helpless suppositions…Scott Blackwood’s extraordinary novel, See How Small, is disturbing, disorienting, courageous and beautiful”— Sydney Morning Herald
“Instead of a decisive close to a horrific crime, there is only remembrance; and in the case of this thought-provoking novel, remembrance fused with literary invention and at times even grace” —New York Times Book Review
New York Times Book Review “Editor’s Choice” Pick
Amazon Editor’s “Spotlight” Best Book of the Month January 2015
“Mesmerizing…. In lyrical, often dreamlike prose, Blackwood illuminates the nature of grief and the connections among the living and the dead”—Kim Hubbard, People Magazine, Best New Book Selection 2015
“A genre-defying novel of powerful emotion, intrigue, and truth” —Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review
“In this radiant retelling, rather than connecting the dots…the author trains his brilliant microscope on each one, enabling us instead to glimpse infinite possibilities…brilliant”—Atlanta Journal Constitution
“Ambitious…Blackwood’s novel has a delicate lyricism” —London Times
“Lyrical and elegiac”—Chicago Tribune
“Blackwood’s short, shard-like chapters cleverly reflect the jagged emotional fragmentation of his characters” —London Daily Mail
“Haunted and haunting …with characters rendered so convincingly you think about sending cards of condolence or calling with advice on the investigation”— Daniel Woodrell
“A vivid and astonishing novel”—Margot Livesey
“Through rapid-fire chapters…Blackwood explores the ways we use story and memory to help ourselves cope with devastating loss and trauma…. Throughout this stirring narrative sweep constant fires…. A powerful telling”—Dallas Morning News
“To write or speak trauma is, in this exceptional novel, to try to speak another language…See How Small takes up the territory of novels such as Room [and] The Virgin Suicides...it is disturbing, disorienting, courageous and beautiful”—Sydney Herald
“A brilliant, heartbreaking meditation on grief, parenthood and time” — Book Page
“A rich tapestry of human failing and hopeful striving” —Shelf Awareness Starred Review
Order See How Small
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” —Richard Ford
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? Order We Agreed To Meet Just Here
Powerful. Ambitious…beautiful music, line by line. —Andre Dubus
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 from NY Times ”First Chapters” Excerpt Order In the Shadow of Our House
“The true revelations arrive in the narratives… [which] bring the musical past to life in such a surprising and revealing way…” —LA Times
A creative 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 in Rolling Stone
Read Excerpt in TriQuarterly here A creative nonfiction narrative about Paramount’s final astonishing years and the unexpected rise of the Delta Blues. By 1928, after launching the recording careers of Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Blind Lemon Jefferson, King Oliver, Alberta Hunter, Ma Rainey and Blind Blake, Paramount was entitled to a breather. But just as it seemed the label might be losing steam, it began a second act that threatened to dwarf its first. From 1928-32, the label embarked on a furious run for the ages, birthing the entire genre of Mississippi Delta blues recordings by the likes of: Skip James, Charley Patton, Son House, Tommy Johnson, Rube Lacy, Ishman Bracey, The Mississippi Sheiks, and the incomparable Geeshie Wiley & Elvie Thomas, who it turns out, were not what they seemed. This is the story of how it happened, moments of decision and accident that changed how America thought of itself. The paradoxical story of how Paramount—a company only interested in profits—created the richest repository of the young nation’s greatest art form as well as intimations of all that we’ll never hear, America’s ghost voices.
Release Date November 18 Order 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…