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University of Iowa News Release

June 27, 2003

'Live From Prairie Lights' Schedule Features New Fiction

"Live from Prairie Lights," the series of broadcast readings hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will feature a week of new fiction, July 7-12:
-- Amy Hassinger on Monday, July 7, in the Prairie Lights bookstore;
-- Albert Goldbarth on Tuesday, July 8, in Prairie Lights:
-- Marcos McPeek Villatoro on Wednesday, July 9, in Prairie Lights;
-- Neil Gordon on Thursday, July 10, in Prairie Lights;
-- Thomas Fox Averill on Friday, July 11, in Prairie Lights; and
-- Sherman Alexie at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 12, in Buchanan Auditorium of the UI Pappajohn Business Administration Building.

The Prairie Lights bookstore is located at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen to the readings on the internet at

Amy Hassinger, a graduate of the UI Writers' Workshop, will read from her first novel, "Nina: Adolescence." Writers' Workshop faculty member Chris Offutt wrote, "In clear and lucid prose Amy Hasinger reveals the complex emotions that surround the border of childhood."

For Booklist, critic Gillian Engberg wrote, "Her graceful, observant prose beautifully captures Nina's inner world -- her guilt, yearning, anger, desire, and joy -- while ruthlessly skewering the narcissism of ambitious adults. An unsettling and acutely sensitive debut."

Albert Goldbarth, known for his poetry and essays, will read from his first novel, "Pieces of Payne," about which Joyce Carol Oates commented, "Albert Goldbarth is a dazzling virtuoso who can break your heart."

A Publishers Weekly preview of "Pieces of Payne" stated, "There is humor aplenty in these often incredible slices of 'reality.' Riffing on the paradoxical tragedies and miracles of our civilization, Goldbarth has produced a thought-provoking book that offers the reader ample recompense for its challenging format."

Goldbarth received the National Book Critics Circle Award for his poetry collection "Saving Lives" and the PEN West Award for his essay collection "Many Circles." He is distinguished professor of humanities at Wichita State University.

Iowa Writers Workshop graduate Marcos McPeek Villtoro will read from the second of his Latin-flavored private-eye novels, "Home Killings."

The Publishers Weekly preview observed: "'Home Killings,' a slick, elegantly crafted mystery from creative writing professor Marcos McPeek Villatoro ('The Holy Spirit of My Uncle's Cojones'), mixes practical-minded Latina feminism and Latin American myth with the international drug trade. When rookie detective Romilia Chacon connects her first investigation to a serial killer already in jail, Nashville's police department isn't happy. The wry, likable heroine's astute and dogged detection seems to make some public figures uncomfortable."

Neil Gordon, the author of "The Sacrifice of Isaac," will read from his new thriller, "The Company You Keep."

Gordon is the literary editor at the Boston Review and a regular reviewer for the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post.

Tom Averill, another UI Writers' Workshop alumnus, will read from his second novel, "The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson."

A New York Times review praised the book for its "lyrical writing," and a critique in the Kansas City Star commented, "It moves you, and you wonder what secret ingredients went into the making of your life."

Averill is writer-in-residence and professor of English at Washburn University in Kansas.

Native American writer Sherman Alexie, whose readings rival the best stand-up comedy routines, will read from his new short-story collection, "Ten Little Indians."

A Publishers Weekly recommendation stated, "Fluent, exuberant and supremely confident, this outstanding collection shows Alexie ('The Toughest Indian in the World,' etc.) at the height of his powers."

The author of more than a dozen books -- including "Reservation Blues" and "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" -- Alexie is also a screenwriter ("Smoke Signals"), and he has made his directorial debut with "The Business of Fancydancing."

He has been the winner of a Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, a PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction, the American Book Award, the Morgan Murray Prize, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, the Audience Award and the Filmmakers Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival, a Christopher Award for artistic works "which affirm the highest values of the human spirit" and a Wordcraft Circle Writer of the Year Award He is also a three-time World Heavyweight Poetry Bout Champion.

Alexie is now working on a biography of Jimi Hendrix.

Alexie made his stand-up debut at the Foolproof Northwest Comedy Festival in Seattle in 1999, and was the featured performer at the Vancouver International Comedy Festival's opening night gala that July.

Also in 1999, The New Yorker acknowledged Alexie as one of the top writers for the 21st Century. He was one of 20 writers featured in the magazine's Summer Fiction Edition, "20 Writers for the 21st Century."

Ron Franscell wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, "no contemporary author has succeeded in popular Western fiction like McMurtry, the old stud horse in the sparse herd of the region's literary writers. But Alexie is the mustang: wild, irreverent, defiant, bold, unpredictable, sleek, distant, erotic, swift and hard to corral -- everything McMurtry never was, even in his prime.

"Not that Alexie cares. He's a provocateur who never left a pot unstirred. He's a trickster not above mocking himself. He's a proud Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian who is just as likely to skewer Indians as totem-loving liberals and Yale-educated conservatives (yeah, him). And he's a best-selling author who knows exactly how far to push the sensibilities of his gentler readers."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,