The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 14, 2005

UI Alumnus Nick Arvin Will Read From Debut Novel Feb. 28

University of Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate Nick Arvin, author of the short-story collection "In the Electric Eden," will read from his debut novel, "Articles of War," at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28 on the "Live From Prairie Lights" broadcast series on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910.

The show will be a simulcast of a free event, hosted by Julie Englander, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Mark Spragg, the author of "An Unfinished Life," recommended the book as "Breathtakingly fine. Resonate in tone, surprising -- as the landscape of human emotion should be surprising -- eviscerating in its honesty, faceted in its complexity. Nick Arvin has accomplished what only a handful of writers have managed -- he has crafted a spare and perfect masterwork."

A Publishers Weekly preview summarized, "This fierce, compact tale of one grunt's war takes readers to the same time and place -- the woods of northern France in 1944 -- where Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim was captured by the Germans. Arvin's first novel is an elegant, understated testament to the stoicism, accidental cowardice and occasional heroics of men under fire."

And Michele Leber wrote for Booklist, "first-novelist Arvin captures the horror, chaos, and waste of war and the fear of those who fight. Fear is the overriding emotion felt by George Tilson of rural Iowa, known as 'Heck' because as a young boy he promised his mother, now deceased, that he wouldn't cuss.

"Before he controls his fear, Heck cowers in a hole and falls behind his unit, sustains a minor non-combat injury and doesn't try to get back to the front, and deliberately draws enemy fire to get out of combat, all the while surrounded by death and destruction, with soldiers blown up beside him, and the memory of an encounter with a French girl as counterpoint.

"Arvin's understated prose shows the dreadful consequences of even a 'good war' in this accomplished and timely literary debut."

O, The Oprah Magazine praised the novel for "precision and sweeping imaginative intelligence that reminds one intensely of Stephen Crane's 'Red Badge of Courage'."

Arvin studied mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan and Stanford University and has worked in a variety of positions in automotive and forensic engineering. At the Writers' Workshop he was a recipient of the Michener Fellowship.

The Writers' Workshop is an academic unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

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,