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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 23, 2011

Alvarado's 'Anthropologies' memoir is available from the UI Press

"Anthropologies: A Family Memoir" by Beth Alvarado is now available from the University of Iowa Press as part of Sightline Books: The Iowa Series in Literary Nonfiction.

"Anthropologies" layers scenes, portraits, dreams and narratives in a dynamic cross-cultural mosaic. Bringing her lyrical tenor to bear on stories as diverse as harboring teen runaways, gunfights with federales, and improbable love, Alvarado unveils the ways in which seemingly separate moments coalesce to forge a communal truth.

Woven from the threads of distinct family histories and ethnic identities, "Anthropologies" seeks a heightened understanding of how individual experiences are part of a larger shared fabric of lives.

Each snapshot provides a glimpse into the past, illuminating the ways in which memory and history are intertwined. Whether the experience is of her own drug use or that of a great-great-grandmother's trek across the Great Plains with Brigham Young, Alvarado's insight into the binding nature of memory illuminates a new way of understanding our place within families, generations and cultures.

UI Nonfiction Writing Program alumna Eula Biss wrote, "'Anthropologies' is an epic effort of personal anthropology rendered in bright washes of detail-rich, super-lush remembrance."

And "Vanishing Point" author Ander Monson observed, "'Memory is a silent room, a home movie from an old Brownie camera,' Beth Alvarado writes. Her memoir, Anthropologies, suggests otherwise: there is little silence here. Instead everything is sound and light: story stacked up on story, memory on dream, aperture after aperture opening and staying open, recording past the final page. Anthropologies offers us the eternal present tense of memory: all our lives and our families' lives existing at once, like the voice of her father, preserved on her mother's answering machine and now here with many others in this lovely echo chamber of a book."

Alvarado is the author of "Not a Matter of Love," winner of the Many Voices Project Award, the fiction editor for CUTTHROAT: A Journal of the Arts, and co-writer of the screenplay "In Need of a Heart." Recent short stories and essays have appeared in the Sonora Review, Third Coast, Nimrod, the Western Humanities Review, the Cimarron Review, and Ploughshares. She teaches at the University of Arizona, where she received her Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction.

The book is available at bookstores or directly from the UI Press, 800-621-2736 or Customers in Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from Eurospan Group at

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay,