Why did I wait so long? I had a feeling this collection of linked short stories would be worth reading, a favorite to add to my collection. I have no idea why, but just a feeling. I waited to write this post for several days because I wanted to sit with the after buzz it gave me. And then I went back and reread the stories all over again.
The Temple of Air (2011) by Patricia Ann McNair is a collection of eleven stories that span three decades taking place in the small town of New Hope. The characters are real people from the working class who have either spent their entire lives in New Hope or have ended up there running away from lives left behind as an escape. The narrators range from teenagers to adults and their stories are relatable and yet fantastical. They are unflinching, dark, unapologetic, funny, sad and unrelenting. And within each story there is something to ingest and take away.
“But life was complicated, and sometimes you did things in order to survive, and sometimes you did things just because you could. Sometimes you cheated and sometimes you stole. Sometimes you hurt people or insulted them for no apparent reason, and sometimes you were sorry, and sometimes you weren’t. Sometimes you pretended to be who you really weren’t or finally became who you really were.”
Patricia Ann McNair is a Chicagoan (yay!) and also has this great blog/site that I follow where she posts a photo everyday with a journal prompt. Maybe I will finally take pen to paper and start the essay/short story journey.
And for those of you who enjoyed The Shore, The Temple of Air is a book to pick up. Similarly it starts with a story that leaves you breathless and ends with a fantastical story that opens up so many questions and at the same time explains it all. After reading the first three stories from a library copy, I ordered my own where I could write in the back flap with all the characters and how they are linked. And also flag the book to death! I just hope McNair comes out with another collection soon. Until then I will have to sit tight and stalk her blog. 🙂