Beginning in the summer of 2004, Scott Nadelson’s life fell apart. His fiancée left him a month before their planned wedding for another woman who made her living performing as a drag king. He moved into a drafty attic. His car’s brakes went out. He learned that his cat was dying. Over the next two years, he’d struggle, with equivocal and sometimes humiliating results, to get back on his feet, in the process re-examining his past to understand his present circumstances.
The Next Scott Nadelson: A Life in Progress is a literary self-portrait that revolves around the dissolution of a relationship but encompasses the long process of a young man’s halting self-discovery. Exploring episodes from the life of its author/narrator marked by failure, suffering, and hope, as well as literary and cultural influence, the book weighs the things that make us want to give up against the things that keep us going. Though many of the pieces are comic and self-deprecating—some self-lacerating—they are above all meditations on the nature of the self and the way it can be constructed through memory, desire, and the imagination. Together they form a larger narrative, a search for fulfillment and identity in a life often governed by fear.
With humor and unflinching honesty, Scott Nadelson scrutinizes his life to discover who he is and finds just how elusive such a discovery can be. To read the resulting book is to join him on a personal journey that is thoughtful, surprising, occasionally hilarious, and unapologetically human.
Praise for The Next Scott Nadelson
Nadelson is masterful in locating and creating meaning from his personal history … The breakup refrain gives the book cohesion as book, but each of the individual pieces succeeds in its own right. Nadelson is an honest and endearing narrator, willing to make himself fully vulnerable … But ultimately it isn’t what happens to Nadelson that matters as much as what he’s able to do with it: model for the reader the duty of self-understanding. He knows firsthand the power of such models and of literature to connect with and console the reader. During tough times — before, during, and after the breakup — it’s literature that keeps him going … One of the joys of this book is that in showing how literature sustained him Nadelson gives us literature that sustains.
–Scott F. Parker, The Oregonian
A poignant meditation on love, literature, and the pains as well as the perverse pleasures of loneliness. Nadelson chronicles his life in progress with the wry, warm honesty of an old friend catching up after many years. He reminds us that the world can be simultaneously huge and miniscule, that what we read and see and remember is at once nothing and everything, that wholeness is much greater than any sum total you can imagine.
–Meghan Daum, author of Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House
The Next Scott Nadelson: A Life in Progress is an endearing self-portrait filled with wisdom, humor, and refreshing honesty. Nadelson examines moments in his life marked by failure and disappointment, yet nothing fails or disappoints in this fine modern memoir. A great read.
–Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic & Desire
In The Next Scott Nadelson, the title figure is honest, open, and searching, and his presence on the page is truly consoling: his patient excavation of his life will help readers understand their own.
–David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto