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University of Iowa News Release


March 27, 2009

New UI Press book, available April 1, describes the life of a physician

"The Orange Wire Problem and Other Tales from the Doctor's Office" by David Watts, which describes the sometimes crazy experiences of a practicing physician, will be available April 1 from the Bur Oak Books series of the University of Iowa Press.

The book will be 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

Western literature has had a long tradition of physician-writers. From Mikhail Bulgakov to William Carlos Williams to Richard Selzer to Ethan Canin, exposure to human beings at their most vulnerable has inspired fine writing. In an unpretentious style, Watts tells stories that range from the riveting to the dramatic to the hilarious. "The Orange Wire Problem" lays bare the nobility and weakness, generosity and churlishness of human nature.

As the stories in this work unfold, readers are witnesses to the moral dilemmas and personal rewards of ministering to the sick.

Rachel Naomi Remen, author of "Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather's Blessings," commented, "With this new book, Watts takes his place among the most eloquent of modern physician-writers, casting a clear and honest light on the medicine of today, its absurdities, its limitations, its power, and its grace.

"'The Orange Wire Problem' captures it all with a signature eloquence and wit. If you are a physician, it will give you new eyes. If you are not, it will offer you a deeper understanding of medicine as a way of life."

Howard Spiro, founding director of the Program for Humanities in Medicine at Yale University, added, "Humor and humanity, science and satire, you will find them all in these essays by a stomach doctor who gets into the heads as well as the guts of those who come for his down-to-earth counsel. Garlic and sapphires, they're all there. A breezily good read for doctor and patient alike!"

Watts practices medicine in San Francisco. A poet, musician, television host and teacher, he is the author of "Bedside Manners: One Doctor's Reflections on the Oddly Intimate Encounters between Patient and Healer," "Blessing, Making, Taking the History" and "Slow Walking at Jenner-by-the-Sea." He produced "Healing Words: Poetry and the Art of Medicine," which was broadcast nationally on PBS in the summer of 2008.

For UI arts information and calendar updates visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

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,