Excuse Me While I Disappear: Stories

Little, Brown. Apr. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9780316498746. $27. F
This latest collection of short stories by Scott (Careers for Women) contains some gems; the best are evocative of another time or place. Scott returns several times to tales about making books and making paper, particularly in different times, long in the past or far into the future. The strongest stories spring from the author’s European travel experiences, which sparked her fascination with ancient lives and their relationship to books and reading. In some of the weaker entries, such as “The Knowledge Gallery,”Scott explores a possible future without books; these offerings don’t shine like the longer story “Dreaming of Fire,” about a scribe in medieval Venice. Other stories focus on the history of unnamed European places and local accounts of villagers’ experiences in unnamed 20th-century wars. As can be expected of war stories, some are disturbing, like the first selection, “The Limestone Book.” It’s not clear whether any of the stories are based on true events.
VERDICT Of interest to readers who enjoy short stories, particularly those who are interested in the history of Europe and the history of bookmaking and literacy.
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