MacEnulty, Pat

views updated

MacEnulty, Pat

PERSONAL: Female; children: one daughter. Education: Florida State University, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES: Home—Charlotte, NC. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Serpent's Tail Publishing, 4 Blackstock Mews, London N4 2BT, England.

CAREER: Adjunct professor at Central Piedmont Community College and Winthrop University; instructor in drama program, Jefferson Correctional Institution.

AWARDS, HONORS: Kingsbury Writing Fellowship, 1993, and dissertation fellowship, 1994, both from Florida State University; individual artist fellowship, Florida Arts Council; several other fellowships and awards.


Sweet Fire (novel), Serpent's Tail (New York, NY), 2002.

The Language of Sharks (short stories), Serpent's Tail (London, England), 2004.

Time to Say Goodbye (novel), Serpent's Tail (London, England), 2006.

Also author of unpublished novels, including Naked in Blue and From May to December. Contributor of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to periodicals, including Apalachee Quarterly, California Quarterly, Green Hills Literary Lantern, and Snake Nation Review. Former editor, Sun Dog: The Southeast Review.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A book about a women's prison and a woman who teaches a drama class there.

SIDELIGHTS: Pat MacEnulty's first novel, Sweet Fire, explores the reason why someone who seems to have everything would chose a life of narcotics addiction. The author, who overcame drug addiction herself, "writes about her subject with sympathy, wisdom and—an unexpected blessing—humor," reported Rachel Hore in a Guardian review. The story, set in the 1970s, focuses on a young woman named Trish. Despite her upbringing by a cultured mother who wanted to send her to college, Trish descends into heroin addiction. A Kirkus Reviews writer called Sweet Fire "a frank, moving depiction of a nightmarish slice of American life."

The Language of Sharks is a collection of MacEnul-ty's short stories. According to John Sears in Pop Matters online, the best offerings in this book are enough to earn MacEnulty a place "in the very best of American literary company." Sears discovered that an overriding theme in the book is "the connection between innocence, experience and corruption." Drug addiction, violence, and callousness are common in these pages, but they are offset by "sudden acts of genuine love, rare and intense," which serve to "remind us that any depravity in these characters is usually enforced, imposed by forces beyond their control," according to Sears. A Kirkus Reviews contributor stated that MacEnulty "knows how to get your attention, and she's a natural writer."

Grim circumstances also mark MacEnulty's next novel, Time to Say Goodbye. The story concerns Patsy Palmer, a woman who was convicted of three murders years ago, when she worked as an exotic dancer. Patsy has worked hard to put her past behind her and create a new life for herself as a suburban mother with a happy marriage and a respectable career as a real estate agent. When her younger sister sets out to find her, however, Patsy's happiness is threatened. A Publishers Weekly writer found the story somewhat marred by "lackluster writing" and too much reliance on coincidences in the plot. A Kirkus Reviews writer similarly remarked that the story strains credibility at times, but nevertheless recommended it as a "fast-paced thriller."



Guardian (London, England), February 1, 2003, Rachel Hore, review of Sweet Fire.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2002, review of Sweet Fire, p. 1557; March 15, 2004, review of The Language of Sharks, p. 245; December 1, 2005, review of Time to Say Goodbye, p. 1250.

Library Journal, January 1, 2006, Roland Person, review of Time to Say Goodbye, p. 80.

Publishers Weekly, October 17, 2005, review of Time to Say Goodbye, p. 39.


Pat MacEnulty Web log, (April 12, 2006).

Pop Matters, (March, 2004), John Sears, review of The Language of Sharks.

Winthrop University Web site, (April 12, 2006), biographical information about Pat MacEnulty.