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Dzanc Books is a literary nonprofit press out of Ann Arbor Michigan that publishes literary fiction and nonfiction and hosts the literary journal The Collagist.

The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson, by Thomas Averill

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The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson, by Thomas Averill

The Slow Air  by Thomas Fox Averill - Cover.jpg
The Slow Air  by Thomas Fox Averill - Cover.jpg
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The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson, by Thomas Averill

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Description

Though it’s not quite the motherland, Glasglow, Kansas, makes a fine home for Scotsman Rob MacPherson and his son Ewan. As the elder MacPherson blows up whiskey stills in his attempts to make a single-malt Scotch, Ewan falls in love—at twelve years of age—with Shirley Porter.

There’s no turning back for Ewan. From that moment on, his heart has set its course. Through adolescence and into adulthood, through becoming a high school teacher, bagpipe instructor, loyal son, and keeper of all Scottish traditions, Ewan has found his one true passion—much like his father’s obsession with single malt Scotch. A passion that—through trial and error—will teach him that love is an acquired taste . . .

Praise for The Slow Air of Ewan Macpherson

From Publishers Weekly

Whiskey, bagpipes, haggis and Robert Burns: Averill plops Scottish institutions into the American heartland in this meandering coming-of-age tale. In 1952, Rob MacPherson and his infant son, Ewan, emigrate from Scotland to the very Scottish town of Glasgow, Kans., to realize Rob's dream of brewing a single-malt Scotch whiskey in America. The experiment fails horribly: the still explodes in 1963, killing a family friend and wounding Ewan. The remainder of the book is Ewan's story-his struggles with his father, his bagpipe playing and, primarily, his off-again, on-again romance with local girl Shirley Porter. After high school, the two "hand-fast," an old Celtic custom that amounts to a year-long trial marriage. Headstrong Shirley chafes at domesticity and betrays Ewan with his father before disappearing. In her absence, Ewan dates, drinks whiskey and spends a lot of time thinking about and playing his bagpipes (as does his father), which makes for tedious reading. Shirley eventually returns to Glasgow, where she and Ewan spar for long years over whether or not they should be a couple. Averill's second novel (after Secrets of Tsil Cafe) is filled with gloomy, stubborn people who seemingly expect to be unhappy and seldom disappoint themselves. Painful secrets are revealed very slowly, while the happy ending comes too suddenly for a book whose subject speaks primarily to the hardships of love. 
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From Booklist

"This slim and leisurely novel follows the life of Ewan MacPherson. Raised to believe that he was born in 1952 on the boat voyage between Glasgow, Scotland, and Glasgow, Kansas, Ewan never feels at home anywhere. His mother dies in childbirth, and he is raised by an overbearing father in love with all things Scottish, especially Robert Burns, Scotch, women, and bagpipes. Ewan's lifelong quest is for both belonging and independence. As an adult he feels most at home with his teenage love, Shirley, but their early relationship was the source of gossip and disapproval in their small town. Ewan's father and Shirley's mother once had an affair, and Ewan believes Shirley too may have slept with his father. Their relationship is further complicated by a love triangle with the one African American man in town. Loss, family secrets, adoption, and haggis are all central themes of this surprisingly cheerful and hopeful novel. Robert Burns' poems are quoted liberally throughout." -Marta Segal
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

ABOUT THOMAS AVERILL

Thomas Fox Averill is a writer, novelist, and academic from Topeka, Kansas. His works, including Secrets of the Tsil CafeThe Slow Air of Ewan Macpherson, and, more recently, Ordinary Genius, have won wide acclaim in Kansas and throughout the United States. Averill is a writer-in-residence and professor of English at Topeka’s Washburn University. Well known as a writer and teacher, Averill has published numerous works of fiction and short stories on his native Kansas and society at large.