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University of Iowa News Release


June 25, 2008

Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop reads from 'December' July 8

WSUI's "Live from Prairie Lights" will feature novelist Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop in a free event at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live via the University of Iowa Writing University Web site at or

The event will be recorded for broadcast on Iowa Public Radio's "Live from Prairie Lights" series. Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by WSUI's Julie Englander, 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.

Winthrop will read from "December," her new novel about a troubled young girl and a family in crisis. A preview in Publishers Weekly summarized, "Like her 2006 debut, 'Fireworks,' Winthrop's second novel focuses on the turmoil wrought by the loss of a child. Although Wilson and Ruth Carter's 11-year-old daughter, Isabelle, is very much alive, she hasn't spoken in nine months, an elective muteness brought on by no known trauma. Her silence confounds her parents, a series of psychiatrists and her Manhattan private school, which, by December, is losing patience with her.

"Ruth, a successful lawyer, pores over Isabelle's past actions and sketchbooks for hidden meanings; Wilson, a well-meaning but often bumbling father who still views his preteen daughter as a little girl, is convinced that action, not analysis, will cure Isabelle. Isabelle herself, whom Winthrop introduces skillfully through a shifting third-person omniscient narrative, is most intriguing: Keenly self-aware but unable to help herself, alternating between resentment and adoration for her parents, Isabelle is in many ways simply a preadolescent to the nth degree.

"Like budding artist Isabelle, Winthrop is a master of observation, and her ability to crystallize themes in particular vignettes (fixing a broken phonograph, buying Christmas presents) brings this affecting family drama vividly to life."

Winthrop received her Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction from the University of California at Irvine, where she was the recipient of the Schaeffer Writing Fellowship, established by Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus Glenn Schaeffer, for whom the UI Glenn Schaeffer Library and Archives, and UI fellowships are also named.

She has published stories in Wind, the Evansville Review, the Missouri Review, Red Rock Review and the Indiana Review.

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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, Prairie Lights,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),