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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 15, 2010

Week of Sept. 20-24 features three 'Live from Prairie Lights' readings

During the week of Sept. 20-24 the "Live from Prairie Lights" readings will feature authors David Herlihy, Robert Michael Pyle and Sandra Park.

--Herlihy will read from his new book, "The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance," at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20.
--Michael Pyle will read from the travelogue "Mariposa Road: The First Butterfly Big Year," at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22.
--Park will read from her debut novel, "If You Live in a Small House," at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24.

Prairie Lights is located at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Readings are streamed live and archived at the University of Iowa's Writing University Web site at

"The Lost Cyclist" is the tale of Frank Lenz, an accomplished "wheelman" during the late 19th century. Lenz’s dreams were dominated by the emerging sport of cycling and an intense desire to make a name for himself.

In May of 1892 he attempted to fuse both by embarking on a quest to circle the globe by bicycle as a correspondent for Outing magazine. Two years later, after having survived countless near disasters and unimaginable hardships, he approached Europe for the final leg, but he never arrived.

His mysterious disappearance in eastern Turkey sparked an international outcry and compelled Outing to send William Sachtleben, another larger-than-life cyclist, on Lenz's trail. The story culminates with Sachtleben's heroic effort to bring Lenz's accused murderers to justice, even as troubled Turkey teetered on the edge of collapse.

David Pitt wrote for Booklist, "The author draws heavily on the historical record, tapping archives and sources in many countries, and on personal letters and photographs in the possession of Lenz’s descendants. In its time, Lenz’s story was, at first, gripping entertainment before it became a puzzling mystery. This well-researched and stylishly written book puts Lenz back in the public eye as well as offering readers a look at the very early days of modern cycling."

Herlihy is the author of "Bicycle: The History," winner of the 2004 Award for Excellence in the History of Science.

"Mariposa Road" tracks Pyle's journey across the United States in his search for as many butterflies as he can find. Like his "Chasing Monarchs," this book recounts his adventures, high and low, in tracking down butterflies in his own low-tech, individual way. Accompanied by Marsha, his cottonwood-limb butterfly net; Powdermilk, his 1982 Honda Civic with 345,000 miles on the odometer; and the small Leitz binoculars he has carried for more than 30 years, Bob ventured out from his Northwest home for a series of butterfly adventures.

Author and naturalist Kenn Kaufman wrote, "Toss out any notion you might have had about butterfly watchers and meet Bob Pyle. Follow him down the rip-roaring Mariposa Road and you'll never look at a butterfly, or the world, in the same way again."

A Yale-trained ecologist and a Guggenheim fellow, Pyle is the author of 14 books, including "Wintergreen," which won the John Burroughs Medal honoring well-written and illustrated natural history publications.

Set in the early 1950s in Hawaii, "If You Live in a Small House" focuses on a multi-generation Korean-American family crammed into a house in the Coconut Grove suburb of windward O‘ahu, across the mountains from Honolulu.

University of Hawaii author in residence Chris McKinney commented, "Completely avoiding the trappings of noisy, multigenerational family melodrama, this rich psychological narrative instead delves into the private longings of these characters. Beautifully told, 'If You Live in a Small House' is the work of a truly gifted writer."

Park is an adjunct faculty member at Ohlone College. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in the the St. Petersburg Review, the Iowa Review, New American Writing, Five Fingers Review and in two anthologies, "Honolulu Stories" and "Oakland Out Loud."

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: Exhibitions are searchable at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jan Weissmiller, Prairie Lights,; Winston Barclay, University News Services, 319-384-0073 (office) 319-430-1013 (cell),