From a Pulitzer Prize finalist and "greatly gifted and highly original artist" comes a masterful collection of stories about the timeless universal struggle to connect (New York Times).
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.
About the Author
Joanna Scott is the author of ten novels, including Arrogance, a PEN-Faulkner finalist, The Manikin, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Follow Me, a New York Times Notable Book. Her awards include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Ambassador Book Award from the English-Speaking Union, and the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Scott is the Roswell Smith Burrows Professor of English at the University of Rochester.
"A greatly gifted and highly original artist...purely and simply wonderful."— The New York Times Book Review
"Scott's prose is sensitive and beautifully crafted. She writes with subtlety, compassion and humor, and her characters are both eminently human and touched with magic and mystery."—The Washington Post
"The wit, the magical prose and the daring devices of Scott's writing create an enchantment."—The Nation
"A fearlessly intelligent writer."—Louise Erdrich
“[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.”
"Joanna Scott is a writer to treasure."—Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl
"Joanna Scott is a magician, a conjurer, one of the very best writers at work today."—Bradford Morrow, author of The Diviner's Tale
"One of our wisest, deftest, most knowing prose stylists."—Jaimy Gordon, author of Lord of Misrule
"Joanna Scott's writing is always a wonder."—Andrea Barrett, author of Archangel and Ship Fever
"Joanna Scott is among the handful of American writers I will always want to read."—Jay Parini, author of The Last Station