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Release: October 21, 2002

UI Student Who Sold His Life On eBay Reads At Prairie Lights

John Freyer, the University of Iowa art student who gained international notoriety when he sold all his possessions on eBay, and then visited them in their new homes around the globe, will read from the account of his adventure, “All My Life for Sale,” at 8 p.m. Friday,
Nov. 1, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The reading will be broadcast on the “Live from Prairie Lights’ series hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. The reading can be heard on the internet at http://wsui.uiowa.edu.

Other WSUI “Life from Prairie Lights” readings that week will be:

-- Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate D. A. Powell and new Cornell College faculty member Matthew Cooperman, reading from their poetry at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28;

-- Bosnian fiction writer Aleksandar Hemon, reading from his novel “Nowhere Man” at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29;

-- fiction writers Kelly Link and Karen Joy Fowler reading from their recent books at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30;

-- and satirist Alex Shakar reading from “The Savage Girl” at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31.

When Freyer, a Bodine Fellow in the UI School of Art & Art History, decided to sell his life, his possessions included everything from an unopened box of taco shells and a half a bottle of mouthwash to his clothes, his favorite records, his sideburns (in a plastic bag) and even Christmas presents he had bought to give to his family. His former belongings ended up all over the world, including a bag of Porky’s BBQ Pork Skins in Japan, a chair in the Museum of Modern Art and a dental partial plate in the UI Museum of Art.

“All My Life for Sale” has been called “an extraordinary book that functions as an autobiography, a travel narrative, and a meditation on what the objects we surround ourselves with actually mean to us and what happens when we set them free.”

A Publishers Weekly review of Powell’s debut poetry collection, “Tea,” observed, “Powell’s discoed-out flippancy and attuned formalism are like the kiss of life to that age-old pair of sleeping beauties, sex and death . . . the poems record a fractured existence, full of foreboding desire and disappearance.”

BOMB magazine’s review of Powell’s “Lunch” stated “Written at a time when much poetry seems to rise from false emotion, D. A. Powell's poems -- of love, lust, and the physical and psychological reality of sickness -- are sincere. Yet authenticity is not their only virtue . . . these poems derive their power from a keen sensitivity to the potential of language to pun, sing, and give us experience, sometimes simultaneously.”

 

Cooperman’s poems, essays, and interviews have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Field, Denver Quarterly, The Journal, Chicago Review, Sonora Review, and Rolling Stock. He is a founding editor of Quarter After Eight, a journal of prose and commentary. He is the author of “A Sacrificial Zinc,” Winner of the 2000 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Series Award, and the chapbook “Surge,” winner of the 1999 Wick Chapbook Prize from Kent State University Press.

 

 

 

Aleksandar Hemon’s “The Question of Bruno” won international acclaim in 2000, including a review from the New York Times’ Richard Eder that pronounced the book “so good as to make the reader feel certain of having discovered not just an extraordinary story but an extraordinary writer: one who seems not simply gifted but necessary.”

On Oct. 29 he will read from “Nowhere Man,” about which a Publishers Weekly review concluded “Hemon's inimitable voice and the wry urgency of his storytelling should cement his reputation as a talented young writer.

 

 

Both Kelly Link and Karen Joy Fowler began in the science fiction genre.

Jonathan Lethem, author of “Motherless Brooklyn,” called Link “the exact best and strangest and funniest short story writer on earth that you have never heard of.” A Booklist review of Link’s “Stranger Things Happen” says, “Link offers strange and tantalizing stories -- contemporary fiction with a fairy-tale ambience -- that explore the relationship between loss and death and the many ways we try to cope with both. She boldly weaves myth and fairy tale into contemporary life, drawing inspiration from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, from the fairy tale of Cinderella, from the writings of C. S. Lewis, and from the true story of the Donner party’s descent into cannibalism.”

 

Fowler, the author of the novels “Sarah Canary” and “The Sweetheart Season,” will read from “Sister Noon,” which was short-listed for the Pen/Hemingway Award last year. Library Journal recommended the book as a “witty novel” that is “a deft blend of historical fact, urban myth, social satire, and romance.”

 

 


 

“The Savage Girl” is Alex Shakar’s debut novel, following up on the success of his short-story collection, “City in Love,” which won the 1996 National Fiction Competition. A Booklist review called the new book “a kinetic debut novel that cannily assesses the shadow side of consumer culture… Shakar's satiric extrapolation of the cannibalistic aspect of our frenzied pursuit of what’s hot is searing and brilliant.”

 

 

 

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