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Release: Aug. 19, 2002

LEEBRON READS ‘LIVE FROM PRAIRIE LIGHTS’ AUG. 27

University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumnus Fred Leebron will read from his new novel, “In the Middle of All This,” at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27 in the Prairie Lights Bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The free reading is part of the “Live From Prairie Lights” broadcast series, originating on UI radio station WSUI, 910 AM, and hosted by Julie Englander. Listen on the internet at http://wsui.uiowa.edu .

A Publishers Weekly preview summarizes: “This third novel by Leebron (“Out West”; “Six Figures”) tells the story of Martin Kreutzel, an anthropology professor at a small Pennsylvania college. Happily married and the father of two children, Martin watches his life collapse around him when he learns that his beloved sister, Elizabeth, is ill with cancer. Suddenly, Martin, the scientist whose preferred method is that of the ‘observer-participant,’ can neither observe nor participate, unable to cope with his sister’s imminent death, unable to decide ‘whether mercy meant denial or acceptance.’

“When his sister’s husband, Richard, disappears, Martin flies to London to be with Elizabeth, leaving behind a house falling apart and a college struck by a series of tragedies. Shortly after Martin’s arrival Richard mysteriously returns and whisks Elizabeth off to an undisclosed location, leaving Martin in an empty house, futilely awaiting their return. In his sister’s absence, Martin must learn to accept not only the loss of her life but the validity of his.

“Leebron tells most of his open-ended story from Martin’s viewpoint, providing an uneasy glimpse into the psyche of a man torn apart, a man forced to acknowledge grim realities and to realize that ‘life in the middle of all this’ meant that ‘life was the middle of all this.’ Leebron’s exceptional skills as a storyteller and observer of humanity produce a novel both tremendously enjoyable and grandly poignant, a novel almost anthropological in its keen examination of man’s fate.”

Leebron is the co-author of “Creative Fiction Writers Companion” and co-editor of “Postmodern American Fiction: A Norton Anthology.” He has been the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, a James Michener Award, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Award, and two fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. His stories have appeared in Grand Street, Triquarterly, DoubleTake and other periodicals.