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Encore: The edges of what matters: Deirdre McNamer’s ‘Aviary’

Deirdre McNamer
Deirdre McNamer

This week on The Write Question, Lauren chats with Missoula-based writer Deirdre “Dee” McNamer about Aviary, a novel based in an unnamed mountain town a lot like Missoula. The novel, which is McNamer’s first since 2007’s Red Rover, centers a neglected retirement community, Pheasant Run, and the aging residents who live there. This is a conversation with one of Montana’s most beloved novelists and writing teachers, and it’s one you won’t want to miss!

About Deirdre:

Deirdre McNamer is the author of five novels: AviaryRima in the WeedsOne Sweet QuarrelMy Russian, and Red Rover, which was a winner of the Montana Book Award and was named a best book of the year by Artforum, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Her essays, short fiction, and reviews have appeared in The New YorkerPloughshares, the New York Times, and Outside, among other venues. She was a visiting writer at Cornell University, the University of Oregon, the University of Alabama and Williams College before joining the MFA faculty of the University of Montana’s creative writing program in 1995. She taught there until 2020 and now holds a faculty position with the Bennington Writing Seminars’ MFA program.

Deirdre recommends:

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (Knopf Doubleday)

The Glass Hotel (Vintage Books) and Station Eleven (Knopf Doubleday) by Emily St. John Mandel

Anything written by Alice Munro

Lauren recommends:

Red Rover (Penguin Books) and One Sweet Quarrel (HarperCollins) by Deirdre McNamer

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Puffin Books)

Site Fidelity by Claire Boyles (W. W. Norton & Company)

This episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

This conversation between Deirdre McNamer and Chad Dundas (Montana Book Festival)

This episode was produced by Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Peter Hoag, co-producer and editor; and Beth Anne Austein, sound engineer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now the host of Montana Public Radio’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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