Join us at City Lit Books for readings from And These Are the Good Times, by Patricia Ann McNair, and Code of the West, by Sahar Mustafah.
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. A Chicago-centric essay collection from Side Street Press by Patricia Ann McNair, author of the award-winning story collection, Temple of Air.
Patricia Ann McNair has lived 90 percent of her life in the Chicagoland area. In fact, she now lives (with her husband, the visual artist Philip Hartigan, and Pablo, their skinny old cat) just two miles from the site of the hospital where she was born. She’s managed a gas station, tended bar and breaded mushrooms, taught aerobics, and worked on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Today she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. McNair’s short story collection, The Temple of Air, was awarded Book of the Year by the Chicago Writers Association, Southern Illinois University’s Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award, and named a finalist by the Society of Midland Authors. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have been published widely and received a number of honors including several Illinois Arts Council Awards, and the Solstice Short Story Award.
Code of the West is a short story collection by Sahar Mustafah, winner of the David Friedman Award for Best Fiction. "The native and immigrant Palestinians in Sahar Mustafah's Code of the West live in a world where the threat of violence is part of their existence. Some of these characters exist within their own ethnic enclave, while others travel beyond to unexpected locations. What deeply resonates are the ways Mustafah captures the textures of her characters' lives, the atmosphere of their homes and families, certain quiet scenes where some unexpected connection or depth of feeling enters, and we are reminded of Chekhov's observation that heartbreak or great changes can arrive at the most ordinary of moments." -David Mura
Sahar Mustafah is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, a richly complex inheritance she explores in her fiction. Her short stories have been awarded the Guild Literary Complex Prize for fiction, a Distinguished Story honor by Best American Short Stories 2016, and two Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net nominations. She is co-founder of Bird’s Thumb and has been teaching for over twenty years in Illinois. She at work on her first novel, a hate crime shooting that takes place outside of Chicago.