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See How Small by Scott Blackwood
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See How Small

by Scott Blackwood

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
In See How Small author Scott Blackwood explores the details and impact of a horrendous crime on the people who are involved or affected. In Austin Texas, three teenage girls go about the business of closing the ice cream parlor that they work in. Two men walk in and when they leave the store is on fire and the three girls are on the floor, naked, bound and murdered.

The author based his story on a similar real-life unsolved crime in an Austin yogurt shop and although this is indeed a terrible and ugly situation, Scott Blackwood manages to write a beautifully nuanced novel about how a community deals with this tragic loss. This book isn’t a mystery, it is a sensitive and honest look at how people rebuild their lives after a tragedy. While this isn’t an easy read, the author does avoid needless descriptions of violence but the emotional turmoil that the families endure is heartbreaking.

See How Small is a compassionate and creative study of a grim subject. The author’s intimate prose places the reader inside the minds of those who are left behind which I did find very difficult at times. One’s instinct is to turn away from such raw human emotion and give the sufferer some privacy, but in See How Small there is no escape. This is not a book that I can totally praise. Yes, it was both sensitive and dreamlike but it was also slightly disjointed and non-linear making it hard to connect with any of the characters. I suspect some will love it and some will not. Personally I am glad that I picked this book up. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jan 7, 2019 |
I received this book as a First Read win. Unfortunately I don't think that I'm quite built for reading this type of book. It jumped around too much and most of the time I couldn't figure out whose point of view was being represented from one chapter to the next. Most of the writing was vague and in a stream of consciousness manor.

Despite my previous comments, Blackwood can write, the prose is good, if not clear, and I can definitly see that someone who is more into this writing style than I am would really enjoy this book.

( )
  sscarllet | Dec 15, 2015 |
Based on a real life event, the murder of three teens in Texas, this book describes what happens afterward from the perspective of family, friends and others in the town. It also gives the girls’ perspectives as they hover about, watching what happens to everyone there. Interesting read. ( )
  Susan.Macura | Nov 27, 2015 |
A special thank you to First Reads, and Little, Brown and Company for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Scott Blackwood delivers spellbinding SEE HOW SMALL, a short novel of the aftermath of a brutal murder of three teenage girls with magical lyrical and creative prose – intrigue, incarnation, human dynamics, and supernatural elements.

They were daughters.
They were loved.
They were innocent.
They were cursed.
They were unlucky.
They were careless.
They asked for it.
They had no choice.
They were afraid.
They were brave.
They trusted.
They were betrayed.
They suffered.
They heard a voice
They saw the light.

A small Texas town, three teenage girls, two strangers, an ice cream shop; a robbery, an innocent one, a fire. A crime, brutal murders, an act of violence. What comes next is grief, suspects, guilt, a plan of revenge, mother (Kate), firefighter and finder (Jack), bad guys-arsonists, Rosa (reporter), Iraq vet (Hollis), getaway teen driver (Michael); the human mind, and spirits from beyond. They are being observed.

Five years after the still unsolved crime, the three girls continue to visit and observe the town and the people left behind. The characters are flawed and troubled. “See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart,” they say.

A haunting and powerful novel from past to present of three teenage girls: Elizabeth, Zadie, and Meredith. Readers learn about each character, as we move from one anniversary to another of the grief, and aftermath of this brutal crime. The community, the close connections, the dead and the living.

There have been many mixed reviews of SEE HOW SMALL.Possibly for some readers, adding titles of each section by character name would have been easier to follow. However, the novel works and may not appeal to everyone, so keep an open mind.

If you enjoy imagery, creativity, some ghostly resurrections, dreams, symbolism, human dynamics, an eccentric and creepy factor, the human mind, and unsolved cases – written skillfully, with cleverness and compassion; you will enjoy this short thought-provoking and unique book.

For me, it was more about the writing style, as a work of literary fiction, versus the actual story as not a big fan of the supernatural; however, find it intriguing to explore the human mind.

SEE HOW SMALL would make an excellent choice for book clubs or discussions, diving into each character’s personality.This was my first book by Blackwood, and look forward to reading more! ( )
  JudithDCollins | Mar 14, 2015 |
SCOTT BLACKWOOD See How Small
FICTION Little, Brown, Hardcover, January 20, 2015, 978-0316373807
224 pp., $25.00 (also available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook versions)
reviewed 2.22.2015 by Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor
See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart?


Zadie, Elizabeth, and Meredith are closing up the ice cream shop where they work when the men with guns appear. After, the men set the shop ablaze. “It grew hot, dark and wet like first things.” Texans will recognize this scenario immediately. Four teenage girls were raped and murdered and the shop set on fire in an Austin I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt shop in 1991. In a bit of speculative fiction that borrows from historical events, Scott Blackwood creates a cast of haunted characters: the mother of two of the girls, the firefighter who found the bodies, a regular customer of the ice cream shop, a reporter, a suspect and—reminding me a bit of The Lovely Bones—the girls themselves.

See How Small hooks you in the first paragraph with the voices of these girls, after. Blackwood creates an atmosphere that is chilling and apprehensive but subdued. In an intriguing narrative structure, his omniscient narrator moves forward and backward in time: attempting to correct tricks of memory (“There is a young man in line Kate doesn’t know . . . . Later, he’ll be described as secretive and nervous, but this won’t be right”) and maintaining a tension that is subtle but taut as piano wire.

Blackwood explores how those left behind attempt to escape stasis—arrested development—and the nature of grief when the story never ends. He puts the lie to the notion of closure. “Kate’s [Zadie and Elizabeth’s mother] heart shapes itself around a lack. A never-will-be.” Meredith’s father cannot abide the randomness. “A world in which things just happen is beyond hurt somehow, beyond redemption.” The most affecting bits of See How Small are the girls themselves, existing—where? Some metaphysical plane? Wherever they are, the girls are shaped by the memories of the living:

“I just wish I had more memories, one of our mothers says from somewhere . . . . Suddenly one of us has her pixie haircut from sophomore year. Another of us wears the round glasses that made her face look fat before she got contacts. The youngest of us feels her retainer push against the roof of her mouth . . . . I can still smell their hair after a bath. We suspect she’s doing laundry, because that’s when these thoughts often come, while matching socks. Laundry is dangerous that way.”

Small details deliver the strongest impact. The girls, lying on the floor of the ice cream shop, think, “The youngest of us, who always threw up before gym class because she was afraid of being naked, realized that this time she wouldn’t.” Can you feel her realization? The suspect waits in the getaway car and “Every time the wind picks up, a few pecans plunk loudly off the roof.” Can you hear the pings on metal, loud in the anticipatory quiet? Can you see him startle? This is why we read fiction— for the immersive sensory experience that is See How Small.

This review originally published in Lone Star Literary Life. ( )
  TexasBookLover | Mar 8, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031637380X, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:19 -0400)

"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"--… (more)

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