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..
Booksie's Blog click:
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?
To read more: click.
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/
Currently, the Australian Center for Contemporary Art is looking back at its exhibition history with a series of video lectures that examine how those shows came together and their impact.
Twenty six years ago my photographs of individuals living with AIDS and HIV illnesses were included in this exceptional exhibit at what was then called the National Gallery of Australia, and is now called the ACCA. In this time of another international health crisis, the curator of the exhibition, Dr. Ted Gott, provides an engaging, meaningful video lecture, well-illustrated, about the AIDS pandemic and the response of artists. I was honored to have my work included in the exhibition, and honored again to have my work with this video.
In May 2019, I was elected to the Board of Directors of the Society of Midland Authors to serve a three-year term. The Midland Authors was founded in 2015 to create "a closer association among writers of the Middle West" and to stimulate "creative literary effort." I'm honored to a part of this institution that does so much to promote the interests of Midwestern writers.
The unofficial Chicago branch of Fomite authors met at Women & Children First Bookstore in Chicago to celebrate the launch of Julie Justicz's debut novel Degrees of Difficulty.
Jan English Leary, Thicker Than Blood (Fomite 2015),Skating on the Vertical (Fomite 2017)
Maggie Kast, A Free, Unsullied Land (Fomite 2015)
Julie E. Justicz, Degrees of Difficulty (Fomite 2019)
Lynn Sloan, Principles of Navigation (Fomite 2015), This Far Isn't Far Enough (Fomite 2018)
To read the interview, click:
"Each story stands on its own as a separate jewel. . . ." Thank you, Booksie!
To go to Booksie's blog: click.
My short story "Ollie's Back," included in my collection This Far Isn't Far Enough, was performed by Nate Corddry last year, and is now released in the Selected Shorts program Forgiving and Forgetting. The program is aired on NPR and available as a podcast.
On Saturday, August 17, 2019 I will lead the workshop on How to Read a Photograph at Northwestern Summer Writers' Conference, Chicago.
Writers collect and use photographs as records of facts and as inspiration. Getting it at a glance—that’s what we like about photographs. They are simple; they yield their information without a struggle; their language is universal; seeing is natural: Each of these statements is false. Photographs are deceptive and they are filled with information beyond what is available at a glance. Learning how to see what photographs describe can deepen and enrich our writing. In this workshop we will explore ways to read photographs to discover what is within or beyond the surface representation.