This award-winning short story collection brings us moments of tenuousness, in which characters seek out or struggle to hold on to what’s most precious in the face of change and loss.
The stories take us from suburban New Jersey to prewar Vienna to Western Oregon, chronicling the lives of, among others, a suburban teenage boy taking revenge with a stolen Revolutionary War bayonet; a woman adrift, literally and figuratively, amid a workplace affair; a nearly forgotten and destitute musician attempting to reclaim his creative spark; and a young Mark Rothko finding his way after several early failures.
While It Lasts speaks to how we are all bound by limited time to achieve what we must despite our own knowledge of how everything is fleeting.
A binge-worthy assembly of stories, but unlike what the title says, the sensation and pleasure of reading them is not just while the book lasts, but long afterward. Crisscrossing centuries, continents, and an array of characters, every story is immediately immersible; the open endings sometimes stab, other times ring with the resonance and echo of history or memory. Nadelson is a short form master and magician.
—Cris Mazza, author of Charlatan: New and Selected Stories
While It Lasts
, Scott Nadelson’s transporting new collection of short fiction, illuminates the close and volatile bond between the ordinary and the extraordinary. Historical figures like Mark Rothko, Clara Lemlich Shavelson, and Daniel Mendoza tangle with the same questions of purpose that the rest of us do, while ordinary fictional characters find opportunities for profound vulnerability or soaring transcendence. And, as the title suggests, all of this is momentary. Fame, love, home, certainty, life itself—what comes goes, what goes comes, and nobody is damned or saved forever. There is serious wisdom here, and great storytelling, too.
—David Ebenbach, author of How to Mars and The Guy We Didn’t Invite to the Orgy and other stories
Some of the characters in Scott Nadelson’s generous and wide-ranging sixth story collection are based on famous people: the artist Mark Rothko, the musician Arnold Schoenberg, the union organizer Clara Lemlich, the guitarist John Fahey, and the eighteenth century London prizefighter Daniel Mendoza. All are captured in private, beautifully imagined moments of their lives, either before, or after, their public transformations. The remaining stories are about the rest of us, the well-intentioned, misguided, and often foolish. A woman gets stuck on a rock off the Oregon coast, a young man pretends to be gay in order to hang out with the married woman he’s attracted to, an auditor is too slow to realize he’s being blackmailed. Written with insight, empathy, and intelligence, these are stories to treasure.
—Molly Giles, author of Wife with Knife
Scott Nadelson’s While It Lasts
is a reminder of the power of the short story to navigate all those hard-to-reach places in the ongoing mystery we call human experience. Beneath their luminous surfaces, these stories thrum with energy, a sense of forward motion and escalation, of the truth rising to meet the world. Be prepared to emerge, dazzled and amazed, from each—and to recommend this book to everyone you know.
—Anthony Varallo, author of The Lines