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Scott Heim in April of 2016
September 26, 1966 |
|Occupation||Novelist, poet, editor|
|Subject||memory, sex, childhood trauma|
|Notable works||Mysterious Skin (1995)
We Disappear (2008)
|Notable awards||Lambda Literary Award for Fiction, 2009|
Scott Heim was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1966. He grew up in a small farming community there, and later attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, earning a B.A. in English and Art History in 1989 and an M.A. in English Literature in 1991. He attended the M.F.A. program in Writing at Columbia University, where he wrote his first novel, Mysterious Skin, which concerns two Kansas youths and their differing memories of a shared trauma. HarperCollins published that book in 1996, and Scott followed it with another novel, In Awe, about a makeshift family of Kansas misfits, in 1997. In 2008, his third novel, We Disappear, was published as a paperback original with Harper Perennial. This time, Heim explored blurring the distinctions of novel and memoir; his protagonists, "Scott" and his dying mother, move through worlds both real and imagined in a way that one reviewer called "more honest, and thus more troubling, for it reflects the stark knowledge that truth is only an amalgam of experience, a collection of individual shards that don't coalesce into a pleasing whole."We Disappear won the 2009 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men's Fiction.
In 2012, Heim began publishing a series of music-related nonfiction collections called "The First Time I Heard" series, for which he serves as editor. In these books, musicians and writers tell their stories of when they first heard a specific iconic band or artist. The first six installments of the "First Time" series have focused on Joy Division / New Order, Cocteau Twins, David Bowie, The Smiths, Kate Bush, and My Bloody Valentine. (Thus far, contributors to these books have included notable musicians such as David Gedge of The Wedding Present, David Narcizo of Throwing Muses, Bob Mould, Grasshopper of Mercury Rev, Lou Rhodes of Lamb, Simon Scott and Christian Savill of Slowdive, Joan Wasser, David Balfe of The Teardrop Explodes, Craig Wedren and Nathan Larson of Shudder To Think, John Grant, Peter Silberman of The Antlers, Anomie Belle, Jonathan Segel of Camper Van Beethoven, Annette Peacock, Emma Anderson and Miki Berenyi of Lush, Ian Masters of Pale Saints, Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape For a Blue Girl, Mark Van Hoen, Pieter Nooten, Mia Clarke of Electrelane, Vanessa Briscoe Hay of Pylon, and avant-garde pianist Harold Budd.) Heim has scheduled future "First Time" books on ABBA, Kraftwerk, R.E.M., Roxy Music, and other artists.
Heim won fellowships to the London Arts Board as their International Writer-in-Residence, and to the Sundance Screenwriters' Lab for his adaptation of Mysterious Skin. He is also the author of a book of poems, Saved From Drowning (1993).
Mysterious Skin was adapted for the stage by playwright Prince Gomolvilas, premiering in San Francisco. It was subsequently adapted to film by director Gregg Araki and Antidote Films. The movie starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brady Corbet, Elisabeth Shue, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Mary Lynn Rajskub.
Heim's fiction, nonfiction and reviews have appeared in The Village Voice, Out, Newsday, The Advocate, The Fader, Interview, McSweeney's, Time Out New York, Nerve, Christopher Street, The Minnesota Review, and many other periodicals.
After living eleven years in New York, Heim relocated to Boston in 2002.
- Mysterious Skin (1996)
- In Awe (1997)
- We Disappear (2008)
- Saved From Drowning (1993)
- The First Time I Heard Joy Division / New Order (2012)
- The First Time I Heard Cocteau Twins (2012)
- The First Time I Heard David Bowie (2012)
- The First Time I Heard The Smiths (2012)
- The First Time I Heard Kate Bush (2012)
- The First Time I Heard My Bloody Valentine (2014)
- Discontents, edited by Dennis Cooper (1994)
- Waves: An Anthology of New Gay Fiction, edited by Ethan Mordden (1994)
- In the Nursery, Scatter (text for compilation CD) (1995)
- Best American Gay Fiction (1996)
- Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories, edited by Patrick Merla (1996)
- Personals: Dreams and Nightmares from the Lives of 20 Young Writers, edited by Thomas Beller (1998)
- Best American Gay Fiction 3 (1998)
- Obsessed: A Flesh and the Word Collection of Erotic Memoirs, edited by Michael Lowenthal (1999)
- Circa 2000: Gay Fiction at the Millennium (1999)
- Something Inside: Conversations With Gay Fiction Writers, edited by Philip Gambone (1999)
- The Hot Spots: The Best Erotic Writing in Modern Fiction (2001)
- The Book of Lists: Horror, edited by Amy Wallace, Del Howison, and Scott Bradley (2008)
- Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ Americans (2010)
- David Hilliard: Highway of Thought (exhibition catalogue text for photographer David Hilliard) (2010)
- Hood, Recollected (text for 6-disc compilation box set) (2012)
- epic45, May Your Heart Be the Map (liner notes for album reissue) (2017)
- Mysterious Skin (novel basis) (2004)
- Gambone, Philip; Giard, Robert (1999). Something Inside: Conversations with Gay Fiction Writers. Univ of Wisconsin Press. p. 301. ISBN 9780299161347. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
- Weinman, Sarah (Feb 24, 2008). "Peekaboo 'We Disappear,' by Scott Heim". Los Angeles Times.
It would be comforting, as Scott muses near the novel's close, to know the whole truth, to wrap the story up in a tidy little bow. "We Disappear" is more honest, and thus more troubling, for it reflects the stark knowledge that truth is only an amalgam of experience, a collection of individual shards that don't coalesce into a pleasing whole. As Heim suggests, the search for truth invites the Hansels and Gretels of the world to follow the wrong adult home, the Alices to peer down the rabbit hole -- and fantasy to cover up the nasty grime of reality.