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University of Iowa News Release


March 13, 2008

Ryan, Brockmeier, Howe and Shields read for 'Live from Prairie Lights'

Iowa connections will abound when fiction writers Kevin Brockmeier and LeAnne Howe, and nonfiction writers Rebecca Ryan and David Shields read for WSUI's "Live from Prairie Lights" during the week of March 24-29.

The free events, hosted by Julie Englander at 7 p.m. in the store at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, will be:

--Ryan, a "next generation" expert and a graduate of Drake University, reading from her self-published "Live First, Work Second" Monday, March 24.
--University of Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus Brockmeier, reading from his new short-story collection, "View From the Seventh Layer," Tuesday, March 25.
--Howe, a former UI staff member and lecturer, reading from "Miko Kings," her baseball novel set in Oklahoma Indian Territory, Wednesday, March 26.
--Shields, who was a visiting faculty member in the Writers' Workshop last semester, reading from the acclaimed "The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead" Saturday, March 29.

Listen to each of the readings live via the Writing University Web site at

The events will also be recorded for broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, originating on UI radio station WSUI-AM 910. Hour-long Iowa Public Radio "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 and WOI-AM 640 in Ames.

Ryan (left) leads the market research firm Next Generation Consulting, which focuses on the integration of life quality and work that is necessary for attracting and retaining contemporary young professionals.

Richard Florida wrote in the foreword to Ryan's book, "'Live First, Work Second' is a sentiment I often hear in my travels around the country and the world. Regardless of their zip code, their native language, or their vocation, members of the Creative Class place as much emphasis on where and how they live as where they work. It's a core premise of Rebecca's book, and a story that must be told."

Brockmeier (left) is the author of two novels, "The Brief History of the Dead" and "The Truth About Celia"; a previous short-story collection, "Things That Fall from the Sky"; and a trio of children's books. One of the stories in "The View from the Seventh Layer" was anthologized in "Granta's Best of Young American Novelists 2," which was published last spring.

Lydia Millet, author of "Oh Pure and Radiant Heart" wrote of the new collection, "Kevin Brockmeier's writing has a light, magical quality that makes it a joy to read. Playful and uninhibited, imaginative and gentle, he's an American Italo Calvino."

Brockmeier has published stories in many magazines and anthologies, including The New Yorker, the Georgia Review, McSweeney's and "The Best American Short Stories." His story "The Green Children" from "The Truth About Celia" was selected for "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror." He has received the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Award, an Italo Calvino Short Fiction Award, a James Michener-Paul Engle Fellowship at the UI, two O. Henry Awards and a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

American Book Award winner LeAnne Howe (right), an enrolled citizen of the Chactaw Nation of Oklahoma, is the founder and director of the WagonBurner Theatre Troop, which began at the UI, and she is also involved in numerous scholarly, educational and film projects. She teaches in the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Illinois.

The WagonBurner Theater Troops' "Indian Radio Days," supported by an Iowa Artist-in-Residence Grant, was performed on WSUI in 1993.

In the introduction to an interview with David Shields (right) at, Will Doig explains, "This process of aging is the central conceit of David Shields' peculiar and extraordinary new book, 'The Thing About Life is That One Day You'll Be Dead.' Part memoir, part academic text, Shields traces the arc of the human body and mind in three main aspects: biological (fun facts galore), philosophical (musings on aging from Tolstoy to Tarantino), and personal (his dad is 95 and more virile that he is).

"Two things that surprise: aging is not just for the aged, and it's not so bad -- people's 'ideal age' rises as they get older. And Shields' aggressively secular take on reproduction, intelligence, suicide, lust, acne, fear, penis size and body odor (the last of which disappears after eighty -- that proverbial 'grandma smell' is Chanel) shows life as no less charmed than if it were created by intelligent design. Still, people who don't go to church die earlier than those who do. Want to close the gap? Have a good sense of humor -- it adds seven years."

His previous books include "Body Politic: The Great American Sports Machine"; "Enough About You: Adventures in Autobiography"; "Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season," a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; "Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity," winner of the PEN/Revson Award; and "Dead Languages: A Novel," winner of the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award.

Shields' essays and stories have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, the Yale Review, the Village Voice, Salon, Slate, McSweeney's and the Utne Reader, and he has written reviews for the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the Boston Globe and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He has received a Guggenheim fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He is a professor in the English Department at the University of Washington and has also been a member of the faculty in Warren Wilson College's low-residency Master of Fine Arts Program for writers.

The Writers' Workshop is a graduate program of 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: Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights, 319-337-2681,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),