Oct. 24, 2003
The full schedule of 8 p.m. broadcast readings in the book store that week
You can attend the readings at the Prairie Lights bookstore free of charge,
or listen to the readings -- America's only radio series of live readings
-- on the internet at http://wsui.uiowa.edu.
"During a post-college stint as a blackjack dealer in Atlantic City,
freelance writer Hallman discovered the chess community that thrives in dealer
lounges," a Publishers Weekly preview explained. "There he met
39-year-old chess master Glenn Umstead, who performed exhibitions while blindfolded
and had 'hoped to become the world's first black grandmaster.' The two became
friends and embarked on an exploration of the chess subculture, a grand tour
that took them from Princeton to prisons, from windowless rooms to the 'giant
electronic chess room' of the Internet Chess Club (ICC)."
Chess journalist Cathy Forbes wrote, "Hallman is a talented writer
whose vivid prose and keen journalistic eye offer chess culture the compliment
of intelligent impressionistic portraiture, full of powerful, haunting images
of the 'demonic gods' of the chess Olympus and the chess underworld."
Hallman's previous work has appeared in GQ, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner
and other journals and anthologies.
Paddy Woodworth, a former writer and editor for the Irish Times, wrote an
in-depth study of Spain's "Dirty War" that has proven timely, provocative
and revealing as the United States pursues its War on Terror.
A Publisher Weekly preview observed, "The transition from the Franco
dictatorship to a democratic state has been widely regarded as exemplary.
However, as modern court proceedings have exposed, the first post-transition
government, in attempting to destroy the Basque separatist group ETA, adopted
the very policies of indiscriminate terror which characterized both the Franco
regime and ETA's own strategy. In this narrative, Woodworth disentangles
a complex conspiracy through documentary evidence and first-hand interviews.
He analyzes what happens when a democracy abandons the rule of law, showing
how state terror has strengthened revolutionary terrorism."
A review in the Sunday Times of London called the book a "scholarly
and superbly told story . . . (with) all the hallmarks of a classic," and
a Time Magazine review stated, "'Dirty War, Clean Hands' is a balanced,
finely documented tale of how easily democratic institutions can run off
Jerry Harp, who holds a literature doctorate from the UI, has poems in Delmar,
the Iowa Review, the Notre Dame Review, Pleiades, Salt and Xantippe. He teaches
literature and creative writing at Kenyon College in Ohio, and he is a contributing
editor of Delmar.
UI alumnus and long-time faculty member Donald Justice, winner of the Pulitzer
Prize for poetry, wrote of Harp's debut, "Let the new poet discover
all at once his true subject and he will begin writing easily and very well.
Jerry Harp is not the only poet to have had such luck, but so far as I know,
he may well be the latest."
Mark Essig wrote his doctoral thesis on the history of forensic toxicology,
which involved researching a pair of New York City poisoning cases in 1890s.
The men convicted in those cases were among the first to die in the new execution
device, the electric chair.
"The story of the electric chair had everything I like," Essig
says. "Technology, medicine, murder, gruesome experiments and an American
hero doing unexpected things. I had to learn more."
"Edison was a brilliant inventor but not a deep thinker," Essig
says. "I don't think he imagined the implications of this new device.
The book tries to explain the mix of fear, greed and altruism that led him
to champion the electric chair."
A preview in Publishers Weekly explained, "Thomas Edison was deeply
concerned about public safety and stoutly opposed to capital punishment.
Yet except for the rivalry with George Westinghouse, he would have remained
a closet humanitarian. Or so historian of science Essig argues in his first
book. The race between Edison, advocate of direct current (DC), and Westinghouse,
champion of alternating current (AC), to build an electrical empire in the
1880s is a classic example of runaway Gilded Age capitalism.
"Essig recounts Edison's early work on electricity and the opening
of Manhattan's Pearl Street power plant in 1882. Just four years later, Westinghouse
opened his own plant and quickly outpaced Edison in acquiring municipal contracts.
Edison publicly decried AC as a safety hazard and convinced New York legislators
that electricity offered the cleanest execution method available -- provided
it was done with AC. Thus in 1890 William Kemmler became the electric chair's
first victim. He was not, however, the first victim of electrocution. Around
this time, a spectacular series of fatal accidents triggered a citywide panic;
and New York ordered unsafe wires cut down. Westinghouse protested while
Edison applauded: DC cables were underground. Nonetheless, AC triumphed in
Entertainment Weekly said that Essig's book "delivers a thrilling jolt
For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa.
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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre
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CONTACTS: Media: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program: Paddy Woodworth, email@example.com.
PHOTOS are available at http://www.uiowa.edu/hancher/media.html or http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa/photos.html.