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Release: Sept. 26, 2002

UI Writers' Workshop Grads Power And Olsen Read At Prairie Lights

University of Iowa Writers' Workshop graduates Susan Power and Lance Olsen will read from their new work during the Oct. 7-11 broadcasts of "Live from Prairie Lights," hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910.

The week's free readings, broadcast live from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, will be:

-- Power, reading from her new fiction collection, "Roofwalker," winner of this year's Milkweed National Fiction Prize, at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7;

-- Daniel Mason, with editor Robin Dresser, reading from his first novel, "The Piano Tuner," at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8;

-- Olsen, reading from his new book, "Girl Imagined by Chance," in a joint event with "extreme" writer Harold Jaffe, the editor of Fiction International, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9;

-- Hyptertext poet Stephanie Strickland, presenting work from her new volume, "V: WaveSon.nets/Losing L'una," at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10; and

-- Native American writer Debra Magpie Earling, reading from her novel "Perma Red" at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11.

A Publishers Weekly preview explained that in "Roofwalker," "Power continues to explore her Native American heritage in this short story collection, a poignant, evocative follow-up to her PEN/Hemingway Award-winning first book, 'The Grass Dancer.'"

Describing Power's writing, the critic of the New York Times wrote, "This is not magic realism, which consciously alters the world in order to expand its circumference, but a factual representation of reality as it is perceived by the characters . . . a healing vision that goes to the core of our humanity."

Daniel Mason's debut novel, "The Piano Tuner," is the story of Edgar Drake, commissioned by the British War Office in 1886 to travel to hostile Burma to repair a rare Erard grand piano vital to the Crown's strategic interests.

Joanne Wilkinson wrote for Booklist, "A gifted storyteller and writer, Mason uses translucent prose rich with metaphor and allusion to call up Conrad's signature theme of the voyage into the wilderness."

Arthur Golden, author of the best-seller "Memoirs of a Geisha," wrote, "Daniel Mason has woven together an elegant and unusually engrossing story, one that offers the reader the best possible journey -- into a world that no longer exists. Rich, atmospheric, and evocative of the sights, smells and textures of 19th-century Burma, 'The Piano Tuner' is an astonishingly accomplished first novel."

Lance Olsen, Philip K. Dick Award finalist and Pushcart Prize recipient, is author of more than a dozen books, including the acclaimed speculative novels, "Tonguing the Zeitgeist," "Time Famine," "Freaknest" and "Burnt." He received his master of fine arts degree from the Writers' Workshop in 1980, and later taught in the MFA program at the University of Idaho.

Olsen's recent book "Sewing My Eyes Shut" was described as "an avant-pop anti-spectacle," and Carole Maso described it as "An exhilarating, high-octane performance . . . at once frenzied and furious and tender."

Jaffe, whose 10 books include "Sex for the Millennium," "Straight Razor" and "Saints and Serial Killers," will read from his new collection, "False Positive," which teases out the subtexts of actual newspaper articles.

Don Webb, author of "Endless Honeymoon," observed that Olsen's "Freaknest" "has the careful world building of a Bruce Sterling, the horror and comedy of William S. Burroughs, and the adventures and great characters of an Alfred Bester."

A hypertext pioneer, Stephanie Strickland pushes the boundaries of the printed word. Her new volume is an invertible book with two beginnings. She is the author of three volumes of poetry and winner of the Brittingham Prize for "The Red Virgin: A Poem of Simone Weil." Her work has appeared in journals including the Paris Review, the Kenyon Review, the Iowa Review, Double Take, Prairie Schooner, the Electronic Book Review and Ploughshares, and she has produced several hypertext version of her works, including "Ballad of Sand" and "Harry Soot."

Debra Magpie Earling's debut novel explores life in the tiny reservation town of Perma, Mont., through the problems and passions of Louise White Elk. Bill Ott, writing for Booklist, called the book "a love story of uncommon depth and power, a love story that is as painful as it is transcendent, a love story in which the lovers, like Birkin and Ursula in Lawrence's 'Women in Love,' are unwilling to diminish themselves in the act of joining together but are equally unable to turn away."

David Abrams wrote for January magazine, "Debra Magpie Earling's debut novel 'Perma Red' is something of a miracle. The University of Montana creative writing professor began writing it in 1984 and, over the years, it has been through at least nine different rewrites, trimmed from an epic-length 800 pages to a compact 288, burned to a crisp in a house fire, and rejected by publishers who loved the writing but thought the original ending too dark and brutal. Through it all, Earling persevered and the novel stands as a testament to her faith and patience."

Earling is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation. Her work has appeared in "The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology," "Talking Leaves: An Anthology of Contemporary Native American Short Stories," "Circle of Women: Anthology of Western Women Writers" and "Wild Women: Anthology of Women Writers," as well as in numerous literary journals.

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.