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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 7, 2003

Nov. 17-21 'Live From Prairie Lights' Features UI Alumnus Stuart Dybek

Stuart Dybek, a University of Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate and former faculty member, will be featured on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series during the week of Nov. 17-21. The broadcast readings, hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910, are free events at 8 p.m. in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The full schedule for Nov. 17-21 is:
-- Dybek, reading from his new novel-in-stories, "I Sailed with Magellan," on Monday, Nov. 17;
-- Central College theater faculty member Robert Schanke reading from his new biography, "That Furious Lesbian: The Story of Mercedes de Acosta," on Tuesday, Nov. 18;
-- fiction writer Gabe Hudson, reading from his new Gulf War short-story collection, "Dear Mister President," on Wednesday, Nov. 19;
-- columnist Bob Tarte, reading from his comic memoir, "Enslaved by Ducks," on Thursday, Nov. 20; and
-- visual artist Audrey Niffenegger, reading from her bestseller fiction debut, "The Time Traveller's Wife," on Friday, Nov. 21.

Listen to the readings -- America's only radio series of live readings -- on the internet at

A Publishers Weekly preview commented: "Dybek's third work of fiction (his first in over 10 years, after the story collections "Childhood and Other Neighborhoods" and "The Coast of Chicago") comprises 11 elegiac, interlocking stories narrated by Perry Katzek, a young Polish-American growing up on Chicago's racially diverse South Side in the 1950s and 1960s. . .

"The book offers a powerful, cumulative portrait of the lives of Perry, his family and the people in his neighborhood, where 'it seemed that almost every day someone lost teeth at one or another of the corner bars.' . . . all of these beautifully written stories teem with aching recollections. They are lyrical odes to wasted lives, youthful desires, vanishing innocence and the transformative power of memory, which is 'the channel by which the past conducts its powerful energy; it's how the past continues to love.'"

Studs Terkel wrote, "It's hard to tell where Nelson Algren leaves off and Stuart Dybek begins -- they're a couple of naturals. They each capture the lyricism of Chicago's backstreets: the city behind the billboards. They celebrate our alleys as well as our boulevards. Stuart Dybek is, at this moment, our city's blue-collar bard. These eleven lovely stories comprise the Chicago novel of today."

And Scott Turow commented, "Stuart Dybek is one of America's literary masters, and 'I Sailed with Magellan' is a forceful new demonstration of his extraordinary skills. This book of linked stories is full of nuance and feeling and the voice of working people from a time when our world and horizons were just a little narrower and our connection to those near at hand somehow even more consequential. It is the kind of penetrating, moving book Stuart Dybek consistently writes."

Dybek is now a professor of English at Western Michigan University, and his many literary honors include a Lannan Award, the PEN/Bernard Malamud Prize "for distinctive achievement in the short story," an Academy Institute Award in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center, a Whiting Writers Award, four O. Henry Prizes and the Nelson Algren Prize.

Robert Schanke is the editor of the international journal Theatre History Studies and the Southern Illinois University Press series "Theater in the Americas." His five other books include "Eva Le Gallienne: A Bio-Bibliography" and "Shattered Applause: The Lives of Eva Le Gallienne," which was a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and the Barnard Hewitt Award for theater research.

His new biography creates a portrait of a flamboyantly uninhibited early-20th-century author, poet and playwright. Schanke has also edited a companion volume, "Women in Turmoil: Six Plays by Mercedes de Acosta."

Gabe Hudson -- a Master of Fine Arts graduate from Brown University, where he won the 1999 John Hawkes Prize in Fiction -- was a rifleman in the Marine reserves. "Fight Club" author Chuck Palahniuk wrote of the new collection, "Mr. Hudson's style goes from zero to one hundred MPH in the first sentence. Faster than a Road Runner cartoon, he reminds us war can be funny as hell."

Dave Eggers, author of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" noted that "Beyond their great narrative propulsion and their astonishing but always balanced surreality and humor, Gabe Hudson's stories have a crucial and rare thing: soul. He's an important writer."

And Kirkus Reviews described Hudson's book as, "An important contribution to war literature, and certainly a talent to watch. . . If combat is changing, then so must war stories. . . Hudson's tales deliver their sad humanity in the mode of absurdity, and deep beneath the wordplay and high-jinks are plenty of smart satire and not a few tears."

Hudson's stories have been published in The New Yorker, Black Book, McSweeney's and other publications.

Bob Tarte's memoir was described by critic Nancy Bent in the American Library Association's Booklist, "In charting how he went from the head of the household to the bottom of the pecking order, columnist Tarte (who usually writes about world music for The Beat magazine) reveals that he did not start life as an animal lover. Indifferent to his boyhood beagle and parakeet, he figured when his new wife began lobbying for a pet rabbit, it would be her pet, not his, and not too much trouble.

"But somehow, despite severed power cords and chewed woodwork, the rabbit wasn't enough. After a canary he received for Christmas wouldn't sit on his finger, he and his wife went shopping for a small parrot -- which promptly bit him. It was all downhill from there, as Tarte's hilarious stories of the parade of animals that joined their household reveal. Cats, parakeets, ring-necked doves, ducks, geese and turkeys all enter the author's life."

Audrey Niffenegger is a visual artist and a faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Book Arts Master of Fine Arts Program at the Columbia College Chicago Centre for Book and Paper Arts. Her debut, "The Time Traveller's Wife," is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was 36, and were married when Clare was 23 and Henry 31.

Anne Ursu, author of "The Disapparation of James" and "Spilling Clarence" wrote that in her first novel, "Niffenegger imagines this story of an accidental time traveler and the love of his life with grace and humanity. Fiercely inventive, slyly ambitious, and lovingly told, 'The Time Traveler's Wife' sparkles as it fearlessly explores the delicate interplay of love and time."

And Charles Dickinson, author of "A Shortcut in Time," wrote "'The Time Traveler's Wife' is an odd and enchanting love story . . . a story of intense devotion filtered through time -- of two people who share the best and worst of growing up as soulmates in a world that can change in an instant."

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,