In her review Beth Castrodate writes that MIDSTREAM is a "reflective, thought-provoking novel" and an "engaging story"
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Natalia Nobel wrote:
In Lynn Sloan’s compelling novel “Midstream,” we follow Chicago-based protagonist Polly Wainwright through a midlife crisis that involves her unfulfilled dream of becoming a documentary film director, the breakup of a relationship, and the serious illness of her closest friend Eugenia. Structured by chapters that take us back and forth between life-changing events of 1962 and 1974, at “Midstream”’s opening in 1974 Wainwright is tired of her job as a picture editor and a boyfriend who won’t commit. Wainwright’s frustration is made understandable because we live her shattered dream of becoming a documentarian; Sloan moves the narrative into 1962 when Wainwright is just out of college and working for the film production company Kino, Inc. run by the self-centered Shelley Shapiro. Wainwright is thrilled when Shapiro gives her a job in a film crew documenting the life of major photographer Cole Watkins at his Wisconsin home known as Starlight Lodge. But her dream of eventual success as a documentarian is shattered when she’s accused of ruining the production before its completion by the team leaders and fired.
As Wainwright’s job, love and friendship crises combine (1974), she receives letters that have been put aside for her by Watkins to be given to Wainwright after his death. These letters raise questions about the shoot and Wainwright decides to discover whether she deserved the blame for the documentary falling apart. On returning to Wisconsin, she discovers that a bartender named Wiley Reed has inherited Watkins’ lodge and has no idea why. While Wainwright is investigating this mystery, her dream of becoming a documentarian is renewed and she sees a way into a more fulfilling life. Sloan in “Midstream” treats us to believable characters and a high-stakes plot that involves work, love and friendship. I had a hard time putting this novel down.
August 23, 2022
LargeHearted Boy invited me to write a playlist for MIDSTREAM for Book Notes. I chose to write about how Polly Wainwright, my character, connected to music. The era is 1974.
In Lynn Sloan’s luminous novel Midstream, a woman’s comfortable, enviable life is upended.
In 1974, Polly is thirty-four. The US simmers in discontent. Vietnam protests and feminists who demand equal rights and pay are disturbing reminders that all is not as it should be. Though she feels suffocated by the doublespeak, false enthusiasm, and exhausting jockeying for positions that she encounters in her career, Polly clings to the security of her job as a picture editor for the Encyclopedia Britannica. She is unwilling to risk her reliable paycheck, comfy Chicago apartment, and much admired, often absent war correspondent boyfriend by throwing herself into the fray.
Then a mysterious letter arrives, reminding Polly of who she once was: a fearless woman with wide dreams. She is forced to question who she is and what she really wants. Though she dusts off her shelved hopes, she realizes that being true to herself may require letting go of her comforts to follow the risky road that’s opening before her.
The sensitive prose makes both the characters and the worlds that they inhabit shimmer with life. The language is clear and crisp as it focuses on the concerns of creative, twenty-rst-century women trying to make it in corporate environments that are dominated by men. Rapid-re conversations pair with colorful descriptions to invigorate Polly’s world: there are observations of a technicolor sky “dotted with whipped cream clouds” and of “eyes [a] disturbing ... eerie light blue, too light, like glass, the whites around the irises marbled with red veins.”
Midstream is a sophisticated, insightful novel in which a woman on the cusp of becoming a cog in the corporate world awakens, nding the courage to reclaim her lost dreams.
Reviewed by Kristine Morris July / August 2022
I'm grateful to Booksie who reads so many good books, grateful that she enjoyed my novel MIDSTREAM, and shared her review with her many followers..
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I'm thrilled to hold in my own hands an ARC of my new novel Midstream, which will be published by Fomite Press on August 23, 2022. Years of imagining, loose drafting, more careful writing, tossing out pages, rewriting, re-thinking, moving sections around, changing my mind, moving them back, asking my patience writer-friends to read and comment, rewriting, pulling things together, checking for typos, submitting to my publisher, waiting, nail-biting, cheering when my manuscript with a different name, a terrible name, was accepted, trying out other names, discovering Midstream. Now all this comes together in a volume with 244 beautifully printed pages. I really am thrilled.
Is this just me? Six months after reading a book, I seldom remember the characters’ names and only the most rudimentary elements of plot. Even with books I’ve loved! Character and plot are the foundations of fiction. That’s what writers are taught in classes, workshops, how-to books, articles, and websites. You need engaging characters and a story with tension, conflict, drama, high stakes. Voice, setting, imagery, language are important elements, too, but interesting characters and absorbing plots are vital. But if character and plot fade away, then what qualities create the powerful, resonant fiction that keeps its hold on us long afterward?
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Lark Sparrow Press, the fine book press operated by Craig Jobson, bookmaker, designer, and graphic artist, launched this hand-made, limited edition of Fortune Cookies, which includes seven of my very short stories, each involving a fortune cookie fortune. I'm thrilled have my stories appear in such a beautiful art book with bamboo covers, open-spine binding, letterpress printing, tipped in fortune cookie fortunes, embossed art work, and hand-tinted illustrations.
Craig began working on this project a couple of years ago. Throughout that time, he allowed me to make suggestions, read proofs, and occasionally assist him on the press. What an experience--it was like assisting Gutenberg.
Lynn Sloan: Patty, I’ve enjoyed and admired your work for years, so it’s a real treat to have a chance to ask you about your writing and your new story collection, Responsible Adults. Great title. It’s the title of one of your stories, but what it suggests, a bad situation where a sound, responsible adult is needed, can be applied broadly to this entire collection. Reversing those two words of the title to adults responsible also works. In these stories, it is usually the adult, the one in charge, who is responsible for the harm done. When in the process of pulling together this collection did you choose this title?
Patricia Ann McNair: Hello, Lynn, and what a pleasure to talk with you as well! I think you are exactly right that these stories and the situations the characters find themselves in ache for the intervention of a responsible adult. That was something that became clear to me as I started to put these pieces into a binder to see what they might look like as a collection. I hadn’t finished the story that the title Responsible Adults comes from quite yet, and in a way that has never happened before, the title for the collection came to me before I had a story for it. I just liked the sound of it, Responsible Adults, especially as I thought of it in regards to the relationships in the stories. “Who is responsible here” can have a different meaning from “Who is responsible for this?” One implies a sort of blame, an insinuation of guilt, the other assumes that someone is in charge. Each of these ideas speaks to my stories in some way, so, yeah, the title stuck with me. And then I had to find one of my unfinished, untitled stories that might make use of those two words as well. A sort of backward approach for me; I usually like to find a title that has surfaced organically in a story and can do double duty for the collection. But this time the title asserted itself into and onto the book.
To read more:blog.superstitionreview.asu.edu/2021/03/20/guest-post-lynn-sloans-interview-with-patricia-ann-mcnair/