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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 22, 2010

Update: The location of the John D'Agata reading on Wednesday, Feb. 10 has been changed to Lecture Room II, Van Allen Hall.

Upcoming 'Live at Prairie Lights' readings have distinctive Iowa flavor

Four consecutive readings in the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, streamed live and archived at, share a distinctive Iowa flavor. The free events, all scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Prairie Lights, 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, are:

--University of Northern Iowa faculty member Nicholas J. Pace will read from "The Principal's Challenge: Learning from Gay and Lesbian Students" on Friday, Feb. 5.
--University of Iowa women's studies faculty member Ellen Lewin will read from "Gay Fatherhood" on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
--UI nonfiction writing faculty member John D'Agata will read from "About a Mountain" on Wednesday, Feb. 10.
--And Iowa Writers' Workshop student and Iowa native Lucy Silag will read from "Wanderlust: A Beautiful Americans Novel" on Thursday, Feb. 11.

pacePace served as secondary principal at North Tama Junior-Senior High School and a social studies teacher and basketball coach at Davis County and Seymour, Iowa, before returning to his alma mater as a faculty member and coordinator of the UNI Principalship Program.

When a senior in his tiny rural high school came out, Pace started down an unexpected path that would change his outlook on school leadership, and transform his practice. Presented in eight unique stories in students' own words, his book reveals their challenges, fears, and triumphs -- and shows how their schools and the people in them both helped and hurt.

lewin"Gay Fatherhood" is the result of interviews Lewin conducted with nearly 100 gay men who have or are trying to have children. The book chronicles the men's lives, investigating how they cope with political attacks from the right and left, including criticism from peers in the gay community who view parenthood as a sign of conformity.

Learn about the book in greater detail at

d'agata coverA Publishers Weekly starred review of "About a Mountain" stated, "In this circuitous, stylish investigation, D'Agata ('Halls of Fame') uses the federal government's highly controversial (and recently rejected) proposal to entomb the U.S.'s nuclear waste located in Yucca Mountain, near Las Vegas, as his way into a spiraling and subtle examination of the modern city, suicide, linguistics, Edvard Munch's 'The Scream,' ecological and psychic degradation, and the gulf between information and knowledge.

"Acting as a counterpoint to Yucca is the story of a teenager named Levi who leapt to his death off Las Vegas' Stratosphere Motel. It is testament to D'Agata's skillful organization of the book, broken into Who, What, When, Where, and Why, and his use of a rapid sequences of montages -- Levi's suicide is spliced with Orwellian Congressional debates on the stability of Yucca Mountain -- that readers will be pleasurably (and perhaps necessarily) disoriented but never distracted from the themes knitting together the ostensibly unrelated voices of Native American activists, politicians, geologists, Levi's parents, D'Agata's own mother, and a host of zany Las Vegans.

"A sublime reading experience, aesthetically rewarding and marked by moral courage and humility."

D'Agata is also the author of "The Next American Essay" and "The Lost Origins of the Essay."

silagThe sequel to her debut, "Beautiful Americans," Silag's teen/young-adult novel - now in development for a movie -- follows exchange students who are searching the French countryside for a missing classmate. She has written for many publications, including Salon, Allure, New York Magazine, Real Simple Travel and the Independent on Sunday magazine.

Visit Silag's blog at

The Writers' Workshop and the Nonfiction Writing Program are units in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: For additional arts information, 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, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jan Weissmiller,; Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,