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University of Iowa News Release


June 4, 2008

June 17-19 'Live from Prairie Lights' readings feature fiction and nonfiction

The June 17-19 readings in the WSUI "Live from Prairie Lights" series will feature five writers presenting their new fiction and nonfiction. The free events, hosted by Julie Englander in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, will be:

--Wisconsin native David Wroblewski (photo, right) reading from his debut novel, "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle," at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 17.

--Novelist Benjamin Taylor, the editor of Saul Bellow's forthcoming letters, reading from "The Book of Getting Even" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 18.

--Fiction writer Shannon Olson, essayist Barrie Jean Borich and poet Morgan Grayce Willow reading their contributions to "Riding Shotgun: Women Talk About Their Mothers" at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 19.

The live events are accessible through the University of Iowa Writing University Web site at

Stephen King wrote of Wroblewski's book, which Publishers Weekly predicted is "bound to be a bestseller," "I flat-out loved 'The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,' and spent 12 happy evenings immersed in the world David Wroblewski has created. As I neared the end, I kept finding excuses to put the book aside for a little, not because I didn't like it, but because I liked it too much; I didn't want it to end.

"Dog-lovers in particular will find themselves riveted by this story, because the canine world has never been explored with such imagination and emotional resonance. Yet in the end, this isn't a novel about dogs or heartland America -- although it is a deeply American work of literature. It's a novel about the human heart, and the mysteries that live there, understood but impossible to articulate. Yet in the person of Edgar Sawtelle, a mute boy who takes three of his dogs on a brave and dangerous odyssey, Wroblewski does articulate them, and splendidly. I closed the book with that regret readers feel only after experiencing the best stories: It's over, you think, and I won't read another one this good for a long, long time."

A review of Taylor's novel in the Boston Globe stated, "War and peace, the fracturing of generations, the sexual revolution and its casualties -- with irony and pathos this beautifully written novel treats the defining themes of an era, filtered through the restless, eccentric intelligence of a striking cast of characters."

Taylor is the author of the novel "Tales Out of School," which won the 1996 Harold Ribalow Prize.

"Riding Shotgun" anthologizes writing by a group of America's celebrated literary women, including Jonis Agee, Elizabeth Jarret Andrew, Sandra Benitez, Taiyon Coleman, Heid E. Erdrich, Diane Glancy and Denise Low, and edited by Minneapolis poet Kathryn Kysar.

Olson, who teaches at the University of Minnesota, is on the faculty of the 2008 Iowa Summer Writing Festival. A faculty member at Hamline University in the Twin Cities, Borich presented a reading at the 2007 NonficioNow Conference, hosted by the UI Nonfiction Writing Program. Willow was the winner of the Minnesota Arts Access Award in 2002 for her work in making literary events accessible to the hearing impaired. She has also been instrumental in bringing poetry to Twin Cities audiences through Poetry in Motion, a program that places poetry posters in Metro Transit buses and light rail cars. She was recently named a teaching fellow at Minneapolis College.

The Nonfiction Writing Program is part of the English Department in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jan Weissmuller,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),