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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 25, 2009

Gooch will read from new Flannery O'Connor biography March 5

Brad Gooch will read from "Flannery: A Life of Flannery Connor," his new biography of one of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop's most famous graduates, at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 5, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The "Live from Prairie Lights" series event will be streamed live and then archived on the UI Writing University Web site,

A review in Atlanta Magazine observed: "In the first major biography of the short story master, Brad Gooch makes up for torrid romances and bad behavior -- of which there were none in O'Connor's life -- with detail and insight, undoing some popular myths along the way."

A review in Library Journal summarized, "Gooch's biography is a marvel of concision but skimps on nothing. . . . If O'Connor's writing glows with edged comic genius, biographer Gooch is himself no slouch. If a library is to have only one book on Flannery O'Connor, this should be it."

And Edmund White asserted, ""Flannery O'Connor, one of the best American writers of short fiction, has found her ideal biographer in Brad Gooch. With elegance and fairness, Gooch deals with the sensitive areas of race and religion in O'Connor's life. He also takes us back to those heady days after the war when O'Connor studied creative writing at Iowa. There is much that is new in this book, but, more important, everything is presented in a strong, clear light."

Gooch is the author of the acclaimed biography of Frank O'Hara, "City Poet," as well as other nonfiction and three novels. The recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities and Guggenheim fellowships, he teaches at William Paterson University in New Jersey.

O'Connor's first collection of short stories came from her UI experience, and she received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the Writers' Workshop in 1947. Workshop director Paul Engle found funds to support her for an additional year so that she could work on her first novel, "Wise Blood."

Her career was cut short by lupus, but she became regarded as one of the most important voices in American literature. O'Connor was honored by a Kenyon Review fellowship in fiction, a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant in literature and First Prize in the O. Henry Memorial Awards. The honors continued after her death in 1964, with the National Book Award for "The Complete Short Stories" -- for which Engle wrote the introduction -- and a National Critics Circle Award.

The Writers' Workshop is a graduate program in 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,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office) 319-430-1013 (cell),