The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson

A Synopsis

This is a jpg image of the cover of The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson


    Not long after a terrible injury from a still explosion a  result of his father's attempt to create a single malt Scotch in Kansas, Ewan MacPherson, fourteen years old, falls in love with Shirley Porter. The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson tells the story of their stuttering, sputtering courtship, complicated by meddlesome parents, small-town gossip, unwanted pregnancy, separations and a buried past.

    A scandalous year of living together, at their parents' urging, in a variation of the old Scottish tradition of "hand-fasting" doesn't lead to the happy marriage Ewan envisions, but entwines him and Shirley in complicated ways. Their fates and prospects and hearts become bound together, sometimes as lodestone to an unwanted past, sometimes as promise of the future. Shirley runs off after the hand-fasting" rather than submit to marriage, but returns a few years later, harboring a heavy sadness. Ewan and Shirley then begin their long, slow dance toward overcoming their histories and mistakes, finally discovering the requirements of their future.

    Ewan Burns MacPherson is but an infant in 1952 when his father, Rob, brings him to Glasgow, Kansas, from Glasgow, Scotland, his mother having died or so he's told during the passage. Far from the "mottie, misty clime" of home, the wifeless father and motherless son practice the Scottish tradition of bagpiping and indulge a weakness for the nuances of single malt Scotch. As Ewan learns about life, love and family secrets, he also grows as densely stubborn as his father, a trait they unexpectedly share with Ewan's opinionated girlfriend.

    Ewan eventually becomes the local high school history teacher, bagpipe instructor, loyal son, keeper of all Scottish traditions, and best friend to Glasgow's one African-American citizen, Dillon Cork, the sexton of the Presbyterian Church. All the while, he continues his efforts to win back his lover and get out from under the overwhelming shadow of his increasingly eccentric, larger than life father whose excesses and competitiveness threaten to ruin them both.

    The Slow air of Ewan MacPherson is heavily textured with the music of the bagpipes, with the poetry of Robert Burns, and most of all with the rich pungency and diversity of single malt Scotch, the appreciation of which becomes almost a religion. The book is a celebration of love, family, friendship, tenacious courtship, self-discovery, and not least, all things Scottish.  Ewan MacPherson  overcomes the burden of confusing family secrets and youthful mistakes. He learns, along with the woman he loves, how to repair their broken relationship so that, ultimately, they can make their own way in the world.

To listen to bagpipe music inspired by the novel, as written and played by the author, click on the tune below.
RealOne Player required. 
The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson
 Tune for Rob Allen MacPherson

The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson refers often to the poetry of Robert Burns.

The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson refers to haggis, the national dish of Scotland.  I once cooked it, in my home town of Topeka, Kansas:   Making Haggis in Kansas.

The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson refers often to the character, taste, history and enjoyment of single malt Scotch.  To learn more, from a great source, go to The Scotch Whisky Association

To listen to an interview with Laura Lorson of  Kansas Public Radio  go to:
 Slow Air Interview

To listen to a reading and Q & A session done at Prairie Lights Bookstore, via WSUI, Iowa City, on July 11, 2003, go to:
 Live from Prairie Lights

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