Writer’s Voice Spotlight: Patricia Ann McNair

by watershedcsuc


Patricia Ann McNair is the author of The Temple of Air, and will be reading from this debut collection of short stories at the upcoming Writer’s Voice reading this Thursday, March 28th at 7:30 p.m. in Colusa 110 of the California State University, Chico campus.


Audrey Niffenegger describes The Temple of Air as “a beautiful book, intense and original.” McNair’s fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in various anthologies, literary journals, and magazines, including American Fiction: Best Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers and Superstition Review among many others. Patricia McNair’s honors include four Illinois Arts Council awards, Pushcart Prize nominations in both fiction and nonfiction, a Writer’s Grant and residency at the Vermont Studio Center, a residency at the Glen Arbor Arts Association, and a Writer-in-Residence position at Interlochen Arts Academy. She is an Associate Professor in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago.

For those of you who haven’t yet read this marvelous collection, you will be quickly swept away by the unapologetic, blue-collar portraits of each character, compelling you to feel as if you live among them or as one of them. These stories remind us of the smells we wish to forget in her story “When is a Door not a Door”:

“I sat down on the couch next to Emily, scooted over as close as she would allow me to. Close enough that I could smell her, something like cooked carrots and baby powder and sweaty armpits” (52).

Or perhaps these stories remind us of the tastes we wish to never forget like biting into a big, red, shiny backyard tomato in her story “The Things That’ll Keep You Alive”:

“…he selected another from the case and wiped it against his sleeve like he was polishing an apple and bit from it in just the same way. Juice and seeds ran down his chin. He smiled through the scarlet and talked through the pulp” (125).

Patricia McNair’s writing is buoyant and beautiful. Reading and relishing it is like a gentle breeze. But don’t let the title fool you; these stories are about people, each of whom are at the heart of their own storm—a whirlwind of human weakness, tragedy, and rebirth.  Prepare to be windswept by this unforgettable collection. I hope you will join me in welcoming Patricia Ann McNair at the upcoming Writer’s Voice reading.