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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 22, 2008

POSTPONED: Jonathan Ames returns to Iowa City for Nov. 5 'Live from Prairie Lights' reading

Jonathan Ames, who was a visiting faculty member last year in the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will return to Iowa City to read from his new literary collaboration, "The Alcoholic," at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live via the UI Writing University Web site

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.

"The Alcoholic" is a graphic novel that Ames created with illustrator Dean Haspiel. A Kirkus review declared, "Rarely does a collaboration produce a graphic novel of such literary and artistic merit."

Ames explains how his first graphic novel came about: "It happened because my good friend Dean Haspiel kept suggesting that we collaborate. I've always been a fan of Charles Bukowski and had seen some stories of his, which were accompanied by illustrations from R. Crumb, so the idea of doing something similar with Dean appealed to me.

"Then Dean illustrated Harvey Pekar's 'The Quitter' for Vertigo/DC and one day he brought me in to meet his editor for lunch and I don't know what we ate, but over the course of the meal, I suddenly had this idea for a comic about an alcoholic, called 'The Alcoholic'; in my mind, it would be a perils-of-Pauline sort of tale -- the alcoholic always in danger and getting into trouble, and this idea further blossomed and became the book . . .

"I wanted to tackle something serious, and by serious I guess we mean, not silly or purely comedic. Two of the graphic works that I most admire, 'Maus' and 'Fun Home,' had extremely serious subjects, and I loved those books as a reader and found them to be inspirational as a writer."

Ames is the author of the novels "I Pass Like Night," "The Extra Man" and "Wake Up, Sir!" and the essay collections "What's Not to Love?" "My Less Than Secret Life" and "I Love You More Than You Know." And he launched the "Most Phallic Building" contest with an article in Slate. He is the editor of "Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs."

"Wake Up, Sir!" and "The Extra Man" are in development as films, with Ames writing the screenplays. He has also written for TV, including "Bored to Death" for HBO. He adapted "What's Not to Love?" as a TV pilot for the Showtime network and he played himself. At the time, he said, "It's the role I've been waiting for." Unfortunately, the pilot did not go to series -- Ames did not portray himself with enough accuracy, according to the network.

He also has had two amateur boxing matches, fighting as "The Herring Wonder," and won a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been a recurring guest on "The Late Show with David Letterman."

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: Jan Weissmiller, Prairie Lights,, 319-337-2681; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,