CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Nov. 8, 2002
UI FACULTY MEMBER KATHLEEN DIFFLEY READS LIVE FROM PRAIRIE LIGHTS
Live and Die: Collected Stories of the Civil War, 1861-1876, edited
by University of Iowa English department faculty member Kathleen Diffley,
will be one of the new books featured in free readings on the Live from
Prairie Lights series during the week of Nov. 18-22 in the Prairie Lights
bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. All the weeks
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 weeks schedule is:
--.Mary Rakow, reading from her debut novel The Memory Room,
at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18;
-- Michael Perry, reading from Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors
One Siren at a Time, his memoir of returning to a small Wisconsin town,
at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19;
-- National Book Award nominee Richard Dooling, reading from his new thriller
Bet Your Life at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20;
-- acclaimed southern novelist Lee Smith reading from The Last Girls
at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21; and
-- Diffleys reading at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22.
Rakow has a masters degree from Harvard University Divinity School and a
doctorate in theology from Boston College, and her debut novel concerns a
woman coming back from hell to construct a new self. Written in un-rhymed
verse, to book echoes the influence of Holocaust poet Paul Celan.
Scholar John Felstiner, who won the Truman Capote Award administered by the
UI Writers Workshop for his critical work on Celan, wrote: Mary
Rakow has seamlessly, subtly, composed her own memory fugue, distant from
Celan but profoundly connected.
A Publishers Weekly preview stated, With subtlety, restraint and an
extraordinary eye for detail, Rakow has constructed a breathtaking debut that
avoids the clichés of abuse narratives as it tests the boundaries of
prose and poetry. Drawing from the Psalms and the poems of Paul Celan, Rakow
has written a novel that distills the mysteries of suffering, faith and salvation
into a complex yet accessible whole.
Michael Perrys Population 485 takes readers to New Auburn,
Wis., to which he returned after a decade away. Unable to polka or repair
his own pickup, his farm-boy hands gone soft after years of writing, Mike
figures the best way to regain his credibility is to join the volunteer fire
department, the description goes. Against a backdrop of fires
and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, he tells a frequently comic
tale leavened with moments of heartbreaking delicacy and searing tragedy.
Richard Dooling is an Omaha lawyer and developer of legal software. His second
novel, White Man's Grave, was a finalist for the National Book
Award, and he has also been a finalist for a National Magazine Award. His
work has appeared in periodicals including the New Yorker, the New York Times
and the Wall Street Journal. His other books are Brain Storm and
Critic Emily Russin described Lee Smiths The Last Girls
as At its heart, a book about how we never quite outgrow the past, even
after plenty of chances to do otherwise. Brad Hooper wrote for Booklist,
Achieving greater depths of characterization and heights of technique
with each succeeding novel, Smith sets out here, as the women themselves set
out on their trip, to explore various paths by which women journey from late
adolescence to early middle age. With graceful, even brilliant shifts from
past to present, Smith builds this absolutely inviting, completely compelling
novel around the idea that whatever you're like in your youth, you're
only more so with age.
Lee is the author of the novels Fair and Tender Ladies and Saving
Grace, and the story collections Me and My Baby View the Eclipse
and News of the Spirit, both of which were New York Times Notable
Books. Her awards include the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award
and the 1999 Academy Award for fiction from the American Academy of Arts and
With To Live and Die: Collected Stories of the Civil War, 1861-1876
Kathleen Diffley follows up on her previous book, Where My Heart Is
Turning Ever: Civil War Stories and Constitutional Reform, 1861-1876.
Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain are the only well known authors in her new
anthology, in which bushwhackers carry the war to out-of-the-way homesteads,
spies work households from the inside, journeying paymasters rely on the kindness
of border women, and soldiers turn out to be girls. The stories are populated
with nurses, officers, speculators, preachers, slaves, and black troops, and
they take place in cities, along the frontier, and on battlefields from Shiloh
Gary W. Gallagher, author of Lee and His Army in Confederate History
wrote, This splendid collection reveals a great deal about the real
war that Walt Whitman predicted would never get into the books. Written
between 1861 and 1876, the stories illuminate myriad facets of our defining
national crisis. The range of scenes and voices from the battlefield and the
home front, from men and women, from North and South, remind us of the almost
infinite variety of ways in which the war touched Americans.
And Elizabeth Young, author of Disarming the Nation: Womens Writing
and the American Civil War noted, Kathleen Diffley has unearthed,
assembled, and contextualized a fascinating collection of stories, most completely
unknown until now. This volume will bring renewed attention to Civil War fiction
as a viable and interesting genre.
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