On Our Shelves Now
Literary Nonfiction. Women's Studies. These are the moments I want to tell, to write, the ones that leave me a little raw, that hold love and memory and pain and suffering and survival.--Patricia Ann McNair, from We Are All Just Stupid People
Dancing to the jukebox in dark taverns; saying goodbye to her father on the last morning of his life; having sex in the backseat of a car at a drive-in movie; drinking scotch in a nightclub in Havana, Cuba, and coffee in Paris; making up stories on the run; flirting with boys on summer nights on a Chicago beach; finding the perfect sentence; gathering the entirety of her recently deceased brother's things in two plastic garbage bags--these are just a few of the raw and loving moments that Patricia Ann McNair shares in her essays and riffs. This is how things become true, she tells us in a piece about her father's FBI file... with each retelling... AND THESE ARE THE GOOD TIMES are the stories McNair tells and retells. At turns funny and heartbreaking, these brief pieces are full of truth and not just her own, but ours as well.
Short story writer McNair (The Temple of Air, 2011) proves to be an irresistible personal essayist of refreshing candor, vibrant openheartedness, rueful humor, and unassuming wisdom. In the title piece, which opens this companionable, down-to-earth collection, young McNair joins her beloved father at Sullivan's, his favorite tavern, bugging him for coins for the jukebox and dancing happily by herself. Enthralled by music, hubbub, and motion, McNair remains adventurous and omnivorously curious. Swinging backward and forward in time, she vividly chronicles such indelible experiences as spending her seventeenth summer as a volunteer at a dental clinic in Honduras, how she set about losing her virginity after her father died when she was 15, her bartender days, a fling in Cuba, and marriage. McNair frankly addresses sexuality and sexual abuse, the last two presidential elections, and the lives and deaths of loved ones. Throughout these vital, confiding, potent, and superbly well-crafted essays, McNair also muses on her path to becoming a writer and a writing teacher, generously sharing insights into the creative process and 'the yearning toward wonder.'--Donna Seaman, Booklist