Cover image for See how small : a novel
Title:
See how small : a novel
Author:
Blackwood, Scott.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2015.
Physical Description:
207 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"One late autumn evening in a Texas town, two strangers walk into an ice cream shop shortly before closing time. They bind up the three teenage girls who are working the counter, set fire to the shop, and disappear. SEE HOW SMALL tells the stories of the survivors--family, witnesses, and suspects--who must endure in the wake of atrocity. Justice remains elusive in their world, human connection tenuous. Hovering above the aftermath of their deaths are the three girls. They watch over the town and make occasional visitations, trying to connect with and prod to life those they left behind. "See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart, " they say. A master of compression and lyrical precision, Scott Blackwood has surpassed himself with this haunting, beautiful, and enormously powerful new novel"--
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780316373807

9780316373944
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

A riveting novel about the aftermath of a brutal murder of three teenage girls, written in incantatory prose "that's as fine as any being written by an American author today." (Ben Fountain)

One late autumn evening in a Texas town, two strangers walk into an ice cream shop shortly before closing time. They bind up the three teenage girls who are working the counter, set fire to the shop, and disappear. SEE HOW SMALL tells the stories of the survivors--family, witnesses, and suspects--who must endure in the wake of atrocity. Justice remains elusive in their world, human connection tenuous.

Hovering above the aftermath of their deaths are the three girls. They watch over the town and make occasional visitations, trying to connect with and prod to life those they left behind. "See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart," they say. A master of compression and lyrical precision, Scott Blackwood has surpassed himself with this haunting, beautiful, and enormously powerful new novel.


Author Notes

Scott Blackwood is the author of two previous books of fiction, In the Shadow of Our House and We Agreed to Meet Just Here, and the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award. He's also the author of The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, a book of narrative nonfiction. A long-time resident of Austin, Texas, Blackwood now lives in Chicago and teaches fiction writing in the MFA program at Southern Illinois University.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In a story line based on an actual event, three teenage girls (two sisters and their friend) are brutally murdered and then set on fire in an ice-cream shop in Austin, Texas. The spirits of the dead girls are then able to observe the reactions of various people, including their parents, the fireman who found them, witnesses to the atrocity, and the likely suspects. Everyone suffers in the aftermath: the fireman is haunted by the moment he first observed their charred bodies, one of the mothers completely upends her life but finds no peace, and one of the witnesses, a war veteran suffering from PTSD, has frequent visions of the dead girls. Both sad and dispassionate, the novel has much to say about the mysteries of the human psyche, the far-reaching effects of violence, and the disparate ways grief works on people. Although See How Small bears a certain resemblance to The Lovely Bones (2002), its commercial appeal will be narrower because it's made up of snippets of narrative that jump back and forth in time, all relayed in dreamlike prose and shrouded in ambiguity.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Whiting Writers' Award-winner Blackwood (We Agreed to Meet Just Here) has produced a genre-defying novel of powerful emotion, intrigue, and truth. From the opening pages, which artfully skirt from past to present, it's clear that an atrocity has befallen Elizabeth, Zadie, and Meredith, the three teenage girls staffing the front counter at Sandra's ice cream shop. Killers assault the girls, bind them, and set the building on fire. The merciless crime's aftermath, affecting everyone in the Texas town-including devastated, revenge-consumed mother Kate, town firefighter Jack, and the arsonists themselves-forms the core of the story as each character's life is detailed through the 60 brief, vividly realized chapters. As anniversaries of the murders pass, Blackwood resurrects the three young women on a ghostly plane. They populate Kate's dreams, hang around town, and appear to the eccentric Hollis Finger, who may hold the key to solving the crime. 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. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

On an ordinary day in Austin, TX, Kate Ulrich's two teenage daughters and their friend are brutally murdered while closing up an ice cream shop. Five years after the still unsolved crime, the three girls are a collective "we"-visiting and observing Kate, their other parents, the man who found them, and witnesses. The stories of the victims and the traumatized survivors are told in nonlinear, dreamlike snatches-memories surfacing or vignettes from past and present. The girls float in and out of focus for the reader and the survivors, unable to break through the very thin barrier separating the living and the dead. The characters are compellingly troubled, but frequent shifts in perspective remind readers how little one can actually know about another person, whether they have a tragically short lifetime or not. VERDICT Similar on the surface to Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, this lyrical, abstract, and less sentimental novel by Blackwood (We Agreed to Meet Just Here; In the Shadow of Our House) about murdered teenage girls observing the living will probably not appeal to as wide an audience but may haunt literary fiction readers long after the unsettling ending. [One of Barbara Hoffert's "Writers To Watch," Prepub Alert, 7/14/14.]-Laurie Cavanaugh, Holmes P.L., Halifax, MA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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