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University of Iowa News Release


May 31, 2007

Ron Carlson, Award-Winning Short-Story Writer, Reads From New Novel June 11

Award-winning short-story writer Ron Carlson will read from his new novel, "Five Skies," in a free event at 7 p.m. Monday, June 11, 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 free event 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.

A Publishers Weekly starred review summarized the plot: "Two stoics and a teenage misanthrope are brought together in Idaho's Rocky Mountains to build a ramp to nowhere in Carlson's first novel in 25 years, a tour de force of grief, atonement and the cost of loyalty. Darwin Gallegos, spiritually bereft after the sudden death of his wife, is hired for one last job at Rio Difficulto, the sprawling ranch where he had lived and worked for years. The job: construct a motorcycle ramp that will launch a daredevil across a gorge (the event is to be taped) and bring in a pile of money.

"Darwin hires for the job drifters Arthur Key, a large and quiet man hiding from his recent past, and Ronnie Panelli, a wiry teenager on the lam from minor criminal mischief. As the men work from late spring through summer, their wounds come slowly to light: the seething fury that took root in Darwin after his wife died; Arthur's career as the go-to Hollywood stunt engineer that he abandoned after betraying his guileless brother; and Ronnie's short lifetime of failure, atoned for as he learns the carpentry trade."

Antonya Nelson, author of "Female Trouble," wrote, "Ron Carlson knows there's a hole in the middle of our lives, a chasm we can hardly imagine looking into. So when he sends three men out west to see what they can do about it, the reader must pay close attention. 'Five Skies' is not only a deeply moving contemporary western masterpiece -- it is also a philosophical query about what it means to be a grown man, a grown person. You must read this book because it's going to make a beautiful blockbuster film, and you're going to want to be able to claim that you read it first."

Carlson's acclaimed short-fiction collections include "At the Jim Bridger" and "The Hotel Eden," and he has also written two novels and a young adult novel. His stories appear regularly in Harper's, The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Playboy, "The Best American Short Stories" and "The O. Henry Prize Stories." He is the director of the Master of Fine Arts creative writing program at the University of California, Irvine.

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,