Joanna Scott is the author of 12 works of fiction, including Arrogance, a PEN/Faulkner finalist; and The Manikin, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her awards include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, and the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
The episode explores the line between fact and fantasy, between what’s known, forgotten, or less known than characters in these short stories may believe. The degree to which we’re all limited by our sense of perspective is a related theme here as Scott argues, aptly enough, that a story is always in the first-person at some level because it’s an act of make-belief in a world without certainty. Among other writers invoked in this session were Harold Pinter and his ability to bring characters from distinctively different backgrounds into conflict, Marcel Proust for his attention to detail (a writerly trait Scott shares), and finally Jorge Borges for the ability to show a mind at play with the kind of paradoxes that Scott likewise relishes.