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Release: Nov. 1, 2002

MEMOIR OF AN IOWA CHILDHOOD IS PART OF ‘LIVE FROM PRAIRIE LIGHTS’

Patrick Irelan’s “Central Standard,” a memoir of childhood in Bloomfield, Iowa, published by the University of Iowa Press, will be one of the new books featured in free readings on the “Live from Prairie Lights” series during the week of Nov. 11-15 in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. All the week’s readings will be broadcast on the “Live from Prairie Lights’ series hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. The readings can be heard on the internet at http://wsui.uiowa.edu.

The week’s schedule is:

-- a Veterans Day special featuring Iowa native Michael Luick-Thrams reading from his “Enemies Within” at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11;

-- David Roosevelt, the grandson of Eleanor Roosevelt, reading from “Grandmere: A Personal History of Eleanor Roosevelt,” at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12;

-- Patrick Irelan, an editor for the UI Division of Continuing Education, reading from his memoir of life in southern Iowa at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13; and

-- Patricia Henley, National Book Award finalist for “Hummingbird House,” reading from her new novel, “In the River Sweet,” at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15.

Luick-Thrams’ book collects the writings and drawings of Iowans held in detention camps during World War II. A native of rural Mason City, Iowa, he has also written about the experiences of German prisoners held in Iowa in “Camp Algona.” And in “Out of Hitler’s Reach” he wrote about 185 refugees who found sanctuary at Scattergood School near West Branch, Iowa, between 1939 and 1943.

Luick-Thrams has appeared as a guest lecturer at middle- and high schools, colleges and universities, and cultural and religious institutions throughout the U.S., Germany, South Africa, Australia and Uruguay -- and he has toured Iowa for the Iowa Humanities Board.

David Roosevelt, who has retired from his career in the financial industry, spent a significant part of his youth with his grandmother.

He has commented, “I’ve tried to write this book in a way that my children and grandchildren will have a sense of who and what this incredible woman was, and what her legacy means to them and their lives. I want them, and others, to know her as I did, simply as a grandmother rather than the ‘First Lady of the World,’ as she was so often called.”

In “Central Standard,” Ireland uses his father’s notebooks to recall his family’s days working and moving on the Rock Island Line.

“Real life is so much more interesting than fiction, and Patrick Irelan makes his family real” wrote Evelyn Birkby, author of the “Up a Country Lane Cookbook.” “In his simple, straightforward style and living view of the past, Irelan shows us a clear view of his family’s struggles and successes. We grieve for lives lost and dreams shattered. We wonder at their survival during the summer of the drought and the years of Depression on their small, infertile Iowa farm. We also gain a vivid picture of the railroad and the depots where both his father and mother worked. You’ll like knowing these courageous, gutsy people and the time and place in which they lived.”

Patricia Henley is a faculty member in the creative writing program at Purdue University. In addition to “Hummingbird House” she has published two collections of stories, “Friday Night at Silver Star” and “The Secret of Cartwheels,” and a book of poems, “Back Roads.” Her stories have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology.

Andre Dubus III wrote of “In the River Sweet” and its grappling with the personal legacies of the Vietnam War, “With a poet's eye for the essential and a novelist’s sweeping vision across space and time, Patricia Henley illuminates here the wounds and yearnings of us all -- the inherent destructive power of long-held secrets, the never-ending search for spiritual wholeness, our deluded belief that a lasting state of grace is always just out of reach. Gorgeously written and suffused with wisdom, ‘In the River Sweet’ is an absolutely superb novel from one of our very best!”

Pulitzer Prize-winning UI alumnus Robert Olen Butler wrote, “In her remarkable new novel, ‘In the River Sweet,’ Patricia Henley has drawn directly on the events of the Vietnam War and its aftermath and yet given them the universal resonance of high art. And she’s done so within a compellingly readable story. For those seeking to consider Vietnam beyond the parochialism of politics, this book is essential reading.”

For UI arts information, visit www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <ur-acr@uiowa.edu>.