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University of Iowa News Release


June 27, 2007

First Novelist Andrea Portes Reads At Prairie Lights July 9

First novelist Andrea Portes will read from "Hick" in a free event at 7 p.m. Monday, July 9, in the Prairie Lights book store at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live via the University of Iowa Writing University Web site:

The reading will be recorded for broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, originating on UI radio station WSUI-AM 910. Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by Julie Englander, air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on WSUI-AM 910 in Iowa City, WOI-AM 640 in Ames and KRNI-AM 1010 in Cedar Falls. A program is also broadcast at 5 p.m. Sundays on KSUI-FM 91.7 in Iowa City.

In "Hick" -- which has climbed to number nine on the Los Angeles Times paperbacks bestseller list -- 13-year-old Luli is abandoned by her alcoholic parents in a little Nebraska town and makes her way west to find a life for herself, encountering hardship after hardship.

The Los Angeles Times review by Mike Weingarten concluded, "The narrative tropes in this coming-of-age novel are familiar, but Portes pulls back from preciousness just when things get sticky... 'Hick' is a bracing drama, a study in tenacity against the gnarled teeth of domestic storms."

The review in the San Diego Union observed, "Reading Andrea Portes makes you feel like your elbows are damp from having been resting in beer-bottle condensation rings on a wobbly table in the kind of dive bar where sooner or later -- and bet on sooner -- somebody's going to have a pool cue broken over his head, and the guy wielding the cue is going to know enough to swing it from the narrow end because it's not the first time for him or, for that matter, the guy getting clocked."

Portes wrote of her debut, "It is difficult to tell how, exactly, I managed to write this book between blinding panic attacks, doomed relationships and too many nights out with my ruffian band of ne'er-do-wells. However, somehow, it seems to have been done. It is my first try, my 'debut novel' as they say, so I ask you to see it as you might see a newborn calf teetering around a tea-shop. There is some china broken, yes... but there is, also, something ragged and innocent, knocking about the finery, trying simply, simply just, to stand."

Portes grew up in rural Nebraska, later shuffling between Illinois, Texas, Brazil, North Dakota and North Carolina before attending Bryn Mawr College. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California-San Diego and became a script reader for Paramount Pictures. She now lives in Los Angeles and is a nightlife columnist for several Web sites.

Visit her MySpace page at

The Writing University Web site provides a handy portal to the UI writing programs -- including the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the International Writing Program, the Nonfiction Writing Program, the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, the Translation Workshop, the UI Press and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. The site also centralizes writing news, lists upcoming events and provides access to a wealth of writing materials -- texts, journals, lists of Iowa-connected writers and publications, historic videos and archived audio. Visitors to the site have the option of subscribing to an RSS feed.

For additional information about the reading call Prairie Lights, 319-337-2681.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

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; cell: 310-430-1013;