lining up the best in mystery & thriller
Excuse Me While I Disappear
Joanna Scott, the critically acclaimed author of ten novels and two collections, turns her “incandescent imagination” (Publishers Weekly) back to the craft of the short story, with breathtaking results. Ranging across history from the distant past to the future, Scott tours the many forms our stories can take, from cave wall paintings to radio banter to digitized archives, and the far-reaching consequences of our communications.
In Venice in the Late Middle Ages, a painter's apprentice finds a way to make his mark on canvases that will survive for centuries. In the near future, after the literary canon has been preserved only on the cloud and then lost, a scholar tries to piece together a little-known school of writers committed to using actual paper. In present day New England, a radio host invites his electrician to stay for dinner, opening up new narrative possibilities for both men.
Written in prose so naturally elegant, smooth, and precise that it becomes invisible, Excuse Me While I Disappear asks what remains of our stories—as individuals and civilizations—after we are gone.
“[Scott] approaches these lyrical stories with a gemlike precision and economy of language that imbue them with a shimmering quality. Her detailed approach to worldbuilding suggests that embedded messages and meanings can be found in almost anything—perhaps especially in those things we tend to overlook…These details and the mysteries behind them invigorate this collection as much as the eccentric characters embody the narratives…Like a good museum, the collection also entices the reader to look again, both at the stories themselves and the world beyond these pages…A beautiful gallery of meditations on language, mortality, and the attempt to leave a lasting mark on the world.”—KIRKUS