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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 18, 2008

Photo: Joshua Casteel. Click here for a high-resolution image.

WSUI's 'Live from Prairie Lights' begins fall readings Aug. 25

The fall 2008 schedule of free readings for Iowa Public Radio's "Live from Prairie Lights" series will begin the week of Aug. 25 with live events featuring nonfiction writer James Douglass, prominent Iowa fiction writer Max Allan Collins, former Abu Ghraib interrogator Joshua Casteel and Iowa Review editor David Hamilton. All four readings, hosted by Julie Englander of University of Iowa radio station WSUI, will take place in Prairie Lights Books at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

Douglass will read from "JFK and the Unspeakable," his account of how President Kennedy was transformed from a traditional Cold Warrior to a man who yearned for peace, at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25.

Prolific Iowa Writer's Workshop alumnus Collins will read from his latest adventure, "Red Sky in Morning," his historical fantasy released under the pseudonym Patrick Culhane, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Casteel, a student in both the UI Playwrights Workshop and the Nonfiction Writing Program, will read from "Letters from Abu Ghraib," a collection of e-mails he sent home during his tour of duty in Iraq, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27.

And Hamilton, a member of the UI English department faculty, will be joined by Iowa Review contributors to introduce the newest issue at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28. ***POSTPONED to Sept. 2

Listen live via the University of Iowa Writing University Web site

The events will be recorded for broadcast on Iowa Public Radio's "Live from Prairie Lights" series. Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on WSUI-AM 910 in Iowa City and WOI-AM 640 in Ames.

Collins' career has included writing for the Dick Tracy comic strip, graphic novels, movie and TV novelizations, critical/historical books, cinema, music CDs, video games, jigsaw puzzles and dozens of mysteries and adventures. His graphic novel "Road to Perdition" was the basis of the Oscar-winning film starring Tom Hanks.

He was hailed in 2004 by Publisher's Weekly as "a new breed of writer." A frequent Mystery Writers of America "Edgar" nominee, he has earned an unprecedented 15 Private Eye Writers of America "Shamus" nominations for his historical thrillers, winning for his Nathan Heller novels, "True Detective" and "Stolen Away." His one-man show, "Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life," was nominated for an Edgar for Best Play of 2004 by the Mystery Writers of America; a film version, written and directed by Collins, received its world premiere in Rock Island, Ill., in February 2006.

In "Red Sky Morning," aging Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson team up to battle a young Al Capone.

Cedar Rapids native Casteel had always dreamed of becoming a soldier. At the age of 17 he signed a contract to go into the Army Reserves and after 9/11 was called up for full active duty. Within a few months after his training as an Arabic linguist and interrogator, he was deployed to Baghdad and the Abu Ghraib prison.

The moral conflict he experienced there led him to apply for discharge as a conscientious objector, and he has become an outspoken international opponent of the Iraq war. His e-mails were first the basis for the play "Returns," which was premiered at the UI in 2007.

Christopher Merrill, director of the UI International Writing Program, commented, "What Joshua Casteel interrogates in 'Letters from Abu Ghraib' is the very idea of liberty. For every enduring work of literature is an epistle from the prison of silence to the possibility of freedom."

The Writers' Workshop, the Nonfiction Writing Program, the English department and the Playwrights Workshop are units in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then 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, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.