The Virgin Suicides meets The Lovely Bones.
It begins one summer evening in a small Texas town. Two men walk into an ice cream shop shortly before it closes. They bind the three teenager girls working behind the counter. They set fire to the shop. They disappear. This horrific, mysterious crime is the subject of Scott Blackwood's new novel.
Loosely based on the 1991 Yogurt Shop Murders in Austin, Texas, See How Small explores a community's reactions to the brutal and seemingly random murder of these three girls. It is told through the perspectives of the community's survivors, witnesses, suspects, and yes, the deceased girls. Among the people we meet is Jack Dewey, the fireman who ran into the burning building and discovered the girls' bodies, and whose life becomes haunted by the girls' memory. We see Kate Ulrich, the mother of two murdered girls, who finds that in fighting the community's need to narrate her life in light of the murders, she's also losing her connection to the girls' lives. A suspect in the murders, Michael Greer, now with a daughter of his own, is haunted by his inadvertent participation in it and his brother's earlier tragic death. And Rosa Heller, an investigative journalist who tries to piece together the mystery by interviewing involved people, becomes lost in the community's false memories and lies and regrets. Above everything else is the girls' shared narration as they watch over the community during the five years following their deaths, as they attempt to comfort their town.
See How Small will remind readers of the paradoxical promises of security and belonging, remembering and forgetting, and our collective need to both obscure and name evil. It is a short, powerful novel.
About the Author
Scott Blackwood is the author of three books of fiction, including the forthcoming novel See How Small. Blackwood was a 2011 Whiting Writers' Award recipient and his first novel, We Agreed to Meet Just Here, set in the Deep Eddy Neighborhood of Austin, Texas, won the AWP Prize for the Novel, Texas Institute of Letters Award for best work of fiction, and was a finalist for the PEN USA Award. His first book was the award-winning story collection, In the Shadows of Our House, published in 2001.
'A brutal, necessary and near perfect novel' NPR 'Mesmerizing ... In lyrical, often dreamlike prose, Blackwood illuminates the nature of grief and the connections among the living and the dead' People 'See How Small is superb. In prose that's as fine as any being written today, Scott Blackwood plumbs the depths of a story that is alternately haunting, terrifying, and achingly tragic. Blackwood illuminates the human condition even as he breaks our hearts.' Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 'A genre-defying novel of powerful emotion, intrigue, and truth ... Reminiscent of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones and based on a similar, still-unsolved 1991 case in Austin, Tex., Blackwood explores the effects of senseless crime on an innocent, tightly knit community, using deft prose to mine the essence of human grief and compassion' Publishers Weekly (starred) 'Blackwood's short, shard-like chapters cleverly reflect the jagged emotional fragmentation of his characters' Daily Mail 'Blackwood's novel has a delicate lyricism' Sunday Times 'Haunted and haunting ... with characters rendered so convincingly you think about sending cards of condolence or calling with advice on the investigation' Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone and The Maid's Version 'Scott Blackwood is a wizard, and in See How Small he puts his skills to dazzling use as he anatomizes a town and a crime. Best of all is the deep empathy he brings to his characters, innocent and guilty, wise and confused; all of them are given the grace of his understanding. A vivid and astonishing novel.' Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy