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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 12, 2008

Douglas Bauer's 'Prairie City, Iowa' is available from the UI Press

Novelist and journalist Douglas Bauer's memoir "Prairie City, Iowa: Three Seasons at Home" is now available from the Bur Oak Books series from the University of Iowa Press.

The book is available at bookstores or 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

Weary from the journalistic treadmill of "going from one assignment to the next like an itinerant fieldworker moving to his harvests" and healing from a divorce, Bauer decided it was time to return to his hometown. Back in Prairie City, a small town east of Des Moines, he helped on his father's farm, scooped grains at the co-op, and tended bar at the Cardinal. The resulting memoir is a picture of an adult experiencing his childhood roots as a grown-up and testing whether one can ever truly go home again.

As a teenager, Bauer left the farm for college life at Drake University, 20 miles away, and then took a job with Better Homes and Gardens in Des Moines, writing in the junk-mail fictional persona of "Barbara Joyce," asking millions of people to subscribe. After a few years he moved to Chicago to work as an editor and writer for Playboy and eventually as a freelance journalist. In the summer of 1975, he returned home to attend his grandmother's funeral and by autumn he moved back to Prairie City, where he stayed for the next three seasons.

Bill Bryson, the author of "A Walk in the Woods" and "I'm a Stranger Here Myself," wrote "Kindly, shrewd, and endlessly absorbing -- this is as good as a book gets."

And Phillip Lopate, author of "The Art of the Personal Essay" and "Getting Personal," called "Prairie City, Iowa" "One of the finest books about place I know. This scrupulously observed, eloquently written, deeply humane, and exemplary work of literary nonfiction captures the mystery of everyday life, in all its grievous darkness and tenderness."

Douglas Bauer has written three novels, "Dexterity," "The Very Air" and "The Book of Famous Iowans," and a book of essays, "The Stuff of Fiction: Advice on Craft." He has taught at Harvard and the University of New Mexico, and has been writer-in-residence at Rice University and Smith College. He currently teaches at Bennington College.

Recognizing the richness of Midwestern heritage, the original and reprinted Bur Oak Books, named after the state tree of Iowa, represent the UI Press's dedication to preserving the literature, history, geography and culture of the heartland.

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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,