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University of Iowa News Release

May 4, 2005

Jim Fergus Reads From New Novel 'Wild Girl' May 19 On WSUI

Fiction writer/journalist Jim Fergus, the award-winning author of "One Thousand White Women," will read from his novel "Wild Girl: The Notebooks of Ned Giles, 1932," at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 19, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910. Listen on the Internet at wsui.uiowa.edu.

The reading, hosted by Julie Englander, will be a free event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

Fergus sets his based-on-fact novel in the American West during the early 20th century and, in a tale in the tradition of "Little Big Man," tells the story of a wild Apache girl who complicates the lives of all she meets.

A starred review in Publishers Weekly stated, "Depicting the dusty Depression-era West this grandly, cinematically imagined sweat- and bloodstained saga, inspired by events that took place in Arizona and south of the border in the Sierra Madre badlands, dramatizes latter-day conflicts between whites and Native Americans.

"During the fall of 1999, an obscure, financially struggling photographer, Ned Giles -- now in his early 80s -- sells, for $30,000, 'La Niña Bronca,' his only copy of a photo of a young Apache girl lying on the rude floor of a Mexican jail cell; the buyer's curiosity about the picture's provenance sparks Ned's memories.

"The rest of the book, set in 1932, reveals a legacy of heroism and lost love through Ned's scrupulously detailed diaries, which vividly recount a nightmare of harrowing misadventures beginning the day he signs on to be a part of the Great Apache Expedition, one of dozens of men hoping to free the son of a wealthy Mexican rancher kidnapped by the Apaches. (The wild Apache girl will be used as ransom.)

"The narrative unfolds as a series of flashbacks, intermingling short passages from the third-person POV of the fierce Apache girl and first-person excerpts from the diaries of the 17-year-old Chicagoan photographer on his first big assignment. Fergus makes unforgettable characters move against vivid landscapes in this laudable encore."

Fergus, a freelance journalist, has also written two non-fiction travel books.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, ur-acr@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu