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University of Iowa News Release

July 7, 2005

UI Alumnus Bret Anthony Johnston Reads July 20 On WSUI

Bret Anthony Johnston, a University of Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate who is back in Iowa City to teach in the UI Summer Writing Festival, will read from his highly praised collection of short stories, "Corpus Christi," at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Listen on the Internet at

The reading, hosted by Julie Englander, will be a free event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

Johnston's work has been featured in the Paris Review and Open City, as well as many anthologies including "New Stories from the South: The Year's Best," "Prize Stories: The O. Henry Prize Stories 2002" and Scribner's "Best of the Fiction Workshops 1999." He teaches creative writing at California State University, San Bernardino.

Writers' Workshop faculty member Chris Offutt commented, "Bret Johnston writes with searing honesty and a deep compassion about the people in his native Texas. This astonishing book will break your heart, make you nod in comprehension, laugh out loud, and ultimately force you to see your own life in a fresh way. The prose is wonderfully precise and the observations are dead-on. 'Corpus' is a brilliant debut by a young writer who has clearly put literature at the center of his life."

And Jane Hamilton wrote, "Bret Anthony Johnston's stories read as if they'd been written by someone who's lived various lifetimes, time enough to develop real wisdom, generosity and the art of making strong clean sentences. What I especially love about these stories is the fact that many of the characters walk the finest line between violence and love, and they do so with a tenderness  that is heartbreaking."

A review in the San Francisco Chronicle observed, "Fans of Raymond Carver's spare, carefully crafted stories will rejoice. Here arrives another author with a pitch-perfect ear for dialogue and a dead-on eye for conjuring an entire universe with one simple detail. Johnston's genius lies in weaving a web of optimism around a series of difficult topics. If they are read as they seem destined to be -- obsessively, in one sitting -- their rapt audience will turn the last page with a profound sense of calm."

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

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