The Temple of Air

The Temple of Air

Patricia Ann McNair Publication: Sept. 2011
ISBN: 9780615434636
Now Available Everywhere
Pages: 178
Binding: Paperback
Price: $16.00

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Winner: Chicago Writers Association, Traditional Fiction
Winner: 2012 Devil's Kitchen Reading Award, Prose

Finalist: Society of Midland Authors, Adult Fiction

The Critics Have Spoken

"McNair’s plainspoken yet imaginative, complexly unnerving, and haunting stories raise essential questions of fate and will, appearances and truth, guilt and compassion." —Donna Seaman, Booklist

“The stories in The Temple of Air are steeped in a particular brand of hospitality and violence. They are definitively Midwestern, navigating deftly between the everyday and the disturbing, the prosaic and the poetic.” —New City

"Stunning Debut Collection" —

"Here’s a little secret: I grew up in a small town very similar to the setting for Patricia Ann McNair’s debut collection of loosely linked stories, The Temple of Air. I know those sprawling fields, the quiet starry nights interrupted only by the occasional passing freight train, the speed at which juicy gossip travels, the type of connection you build with someone from being their neighbor your whole life."  
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From the teenagers who witness a tragedy at a carnival to the twins who run the local ice cream parlor, each of the eleven linked stories in Patricia Ann McNair’s debut collection gives you a glimpse of life in the small town of New Hope.

The town's residents navigate the world around them through faith and redemption, dreams and disappointments. Christy worries over her missing-in-action brother while baby-sitting a developmentally disabled teenager in "When Is A Door Not A Door?" After discovering a lump under his arm, Jim has to give the news to his wrongly-suspecting wife in "The Way It Really Went." "Deer Story" considers two couples and the things that bring them together and those that push them apart. And throughout the collection, Nova, Sky, and Michael, the teen-aged witnesses in the opening story, "Something Like Faith," move in and out of the lives of their fellow townspeople.

Unapologetically in your face, McNair’s stories pull you close enough to dig their way into your subconscious and leave you haunted.

Early Praise

"The Temple of Air is a book of unusual pleasures, each story offers the reader a small roller coaster of anticipation, fear, surprise, recognition, satisfaction. This is a beautiful book, intense and original." —Audrey Niffenegger

It dawned on me, midway through The Temple of Air, that I was reading. I’d forgotten. The voices of Patricia Ann McNair’s characters whisper directly into your ear, inhabiting their stories so completely that the author herself becomes invisible, and the stories simply flow, looping gracefully backward and forward, encircling and encompassing one another like an ancient Celtic etching. The Temple of Air is a wise and masterful book. —Dennis McFadden, author of Hart’s Grove

These stories speak to us in voices that are clear, urgent, tough, and shockingly wise.  Patricia Ann McNair’s The Temple of Air is about the spiritual resilience of endangered children, the survival methods of battered adults, and the presence of grace even in our ruined century. —David Huddle, author of The Story of a Million Years

Fiercely imagined, emotionally charged, Patricia Ann McNair’s first collection celebrates the extraordinary potential of ordinary lives in ways that will leave you breathless. The Temple of Air is bright, breezy, bold: a riveting debut. —A. Manette Ansay, author of Good Things I Wish You

The Temple of Air isn’t just a story collection. It’s a séance of dark secrets, a confessional booth, a therapist’s couch, a thin wall that I press my ear up against. It’s a collection of fever-dreams: often haunting, always beautiful. These are lyrical stories that sear themselves into the reader’s subconscious, and we are incredibly lucky that Patricia Ann McNair has written them. I can’t wait to read more. —John McNally, author of After the Workshop

Patty Ann McNair’s stories in Temple of Air ring like a bell, you love the sound even as it breaks your heart. It’s a rare collection that combines power and tonal authority. These narratives are fierce, fearless, brave, as stylistically pure as Ray Carver, as hard hitting as Mary Gaitskill, as lyrically impassioned as Stu Dybek. Still, McNair is an original, even when her characters miss their good chances or hurt what they love, we feel compassion, we hear the pure note of human pathos. You won’t be able to stop; you won’t be able to put these stories down. —Anne-Marie Oomen, author An American Map

Patricia Ann McNair

Patricia Ann McNair

Photo Credit: Philip Hartigan

Patricia Ann McNair has lived 98 percent of her life in the Midwest. She’s managed a gas station, sold pots and pans door-to-door, tended bar and breaded mushrooms, worked on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and taught aerobics. Today she is an associate professor in the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago, and divides her time between city and small town with her husband, the visual artist Philip Hartigan.

Author Events

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