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University of Iowa News Release


March 18, 2008

Morano's 'Grammar Lessons,' From UI Press, is a 2007 'Book to Remember'

Michele Morano's "Grammar Lessons," a collection of 13 personal essays published by the University of Iowa Press, was included in the New York Public Library's list of 25 "Books to Remember from 2007."

In "Grammar Lessons" Morano connects the rules of grammar to the stories we tell to help us understand our worlds. Living and traveling in Spain during a year of teaching English to university students, she learned to translate and interpret her past and present worlds -- to study the surprising moments of communication -- as a way to make sense of language and meaning, longing and memory.

Poet, writer, filmmaker and anthropologist Ruth Behar says, "I've never read a book quite like Michele Morano's account of her love affair with the Spanish language and with contemporary Spain. Without pretension, 'Grammar Lessons' accomplishes so much: It is prose poetry, a traveler's tale, reflexive ethnography, a meditation on the possibilities of translation, and a gorgeous memoir of a woman's search for a new language that can help her to know better who she wants to be."

Morano focuses first on her year of living in Oviedo in the early 1990s, a time spent immersing herself in a new culture and language while working through the relationship she had left behind -- a relationship with an emotionally dependent and suicidal man.

Next, after subsequent trips to Spain, she explores the ways that travel sparks us to reconsider our personal histories in the context of larger historical legacies. Finally, she turns to the aftereffects of travel, to the constant negotiations involved in retelling and understanding the stories of our lives.

Throughout she details one woman's journey through vocabulary and verb tense toward a greater sense of her place in the world.

Morano is a faculty member in the English department at DePaul University. Her essays have appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, including "Best American Essays 2006," "The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction," the Georgia Review, the Missouri Review, Under the Sun, the Crab Orchard Review and Chicago Public Radio's 848.

"Grammar Lessons" will also be available directly from the UI Press, by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from the Eurospan Group online at

"Grammar Lessons" is part of Sightline Books, the UI Press series of literary nonfiction edited by Carl Klaus and Patricia Hampl. Klaus explains, "Sightline Books is a series of works that embody the richly varied knowledge, artfully crafted prose, and compelling authorial presence that characterize the most engaging contemporary nonfiction."

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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: Allison Thomas, UI Press,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,