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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 6, 2005

'Live From Prairie Lights' Presents Rick Moody Oct. 19, Paul Collins Oct. 21 (Rick Moody reading cancelled)

The "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will present readings by novelist Rick Moody on Wednesday, Oct. 19, and new Iowa Citian Paul Collins on Friday, Oct. 21. The 7 p.m. readings, hosted by WSUI's Julie Englander, will be free events in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Moody will read from "The Diviners," his first fiction in seven years, and Collins will read from his newest book, "The Trouble With Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine."

"The Diviners" is a satirical tale about greed and ego in the entertainment industry, skewering all manner of Hollywood grotesques.

UI Writers' Workshop faculty member James Hynes wrote for the Washington Post's Book World, "He tells the story as a series of mostly brilliant individual set-piece chapters, each one in a different style and each from the point of view of a different character, as if 'The Bonfire of the Vanities' had been written by James Joyce. . . 'The Diviners' is like a Broadway musical filled with nothing but showstoppers, as Moody performs one bravura set piece after another. . . I'm not sure that 'The Diviners' tells me anything I didn't already know about show business or that it really illuminates The Way We Live Now, but it sure is fun to read."

Joanne Wilkinson wrote for Booklist, "Usually the purveyor of much darker fare, he seems to be having a blast with this wild and woolly take on our media-saturated culture, and so will his readers."

Collins, the author of "Banvard's Folly" and "Not Even Wrong: A Father's Journey into the Lost History of Autism," moved to Iowa City to take advantage of special education programs for his autistic son, and he is now an adjunct faculty member of the UI English Department.

His new book is not exactly a biography, but more like an archeological dig into the mystery of Tom Paine's remains, which seem to have disappeared.

A preview in Publishers Weekly explained, "These are the times that try men's . . . bones? In this quixotic, mischievous and often hilarious work, Collins traces the bizarre story of Thomas Paine's remains through nearly two centuries of American and English history. After Paine's death in 1809, the iconoclastic reformer was refused burial in any Christian cemetery and was laid to rest ignominiously on his New York farm with only six people in attendance. Ten years later, a follower exhumed the remains and took them to England, where they were passed about for decades while various individuals harvested this or that relic for their private collections.

"More than a history of Paine's body, Collins offers an entertaining and compelling investigation of his legacy; Paine's example continued to animate all kinds of reformers throughout the 19th century, from feminists and spiritualists to phrenologists and physicians. Indeed, Paine's artifacts had a kind of Forrest Gump quality, bumping into many of the celebrated causes, writers and agitators of the day. Part travelogue, part memoir and part historical mystery, this book reads like a wry, witty novel and offers a delicious twist at the end."

Collins edits the Collins Library for McSweeney's Books -- he specializes in republishing rare, odd and out-of-print works -- and his writing has appeared in New Scientist, the Village Voice and Business 2.0.

The English Department is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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