Friday, October 18, 2013

Midwest Nature Quote of the Week

True prairie was not a matter of location, but of composition. The lie of the land had nothing to do with whether it was prairie or not; if it was tallgrass prairie it included the tallgrass communities. Some prairie was flat, but much of it was rolling, and some was broken and rocky. But it needed tallgrasses if it was to qualify as true prairie—the most easterly of the great American grassland societies that sprawled between the Rockies and the eastern forests.

John Madson, Out Home

Douglas Bauer & Douglas Trevor at the Boston Book Festival

The UI Press is proud to announce that Douglas Bauer, author of What Happens Next? Matters of Life and Death, and Douglas Trevor, author of The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space, will be presenting with Daphne Kalotay at the Boston Book Festival. Don't miss them on Saturday, October 19, when they appear in "Readings in the Forum: Love and Hope," read from their respective books, and participate in a Q&A session.

Stop by the Trinity Forum at 12:30 P.M. tomorrow to meet and hear from these excellent authors! For more information, visit our Facebook event page.

Praise for What Happens Next?
"A literate, thoughtful memoir/essay collection from the heartland."—Kirkus

"This remarkable memoir-in-essays respects time but is not enslaved to it. Bauer moves in circular fashion among incidents that foreshadow later ones and recall earlier. It's not a linear but a spiral history, which touches us and then touches again. As for the language: in each sentence each word seems the only possible choice. How easily the prose lets us read it; what artistic intensity made it that way."—Edith Pearlman, author, Binocular Vision, winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award

Praise for The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space
Winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award

"Douglas Trevor writes movingly and persuasively about the ways in which people can be unmoored by loss. The bereaved parents and brokenhearted students in his stories turn to travel and to drink and most of all to book for solace: Thoreau's Walden, Lowell's poetry, and even Gray's Anatomy. Each of the characters is a fully realized human being, a small civilization of memories and preoccupations, and the final paragraphs of Trevor's stories are among the most knowing and beautiful you are ever likely to read."—Kevin Brockmeier

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lawrence L. Rettig Reading: October 17

Lawrence L. Rettig will be giving a reading of his new book, Gardening the Amana Way, tomorrow! Make sure to head out to the Cedar Rapids Barnes & Noble on Collins Rd. He'll begin the reading at 7:00 PM.

We hope you can make it!

Praise for Gardening the Amana Way
"Rettig has succeeded in the challenging task of providing a most interesting garden book that also provides insights into the interrelationships between garden and kitchen in one of our longest-lived communal societies. An intriguing blend of nature and culture with an insider's perspective, Gardening the Amana Way is a blend of plant list, gardener's almanac, and sustainability guide. It is as thoughtfully woven together as a traditional Amana blanket. The Gardebaas (garden boss) and the Kichebaas (kitchen boss) would be proud!"—J. Timothy Keller, Iowa State University

Gardening the Amana Way by Lawrence L. Rettig

Interview with Douglas Bauer

Doug Bauer is the author of What Happens Next? Matters of Life and Death, just published this month. University of Iowa Press acquisitions editor Catherine Cocks asked him a few questions about the book.

CC: What’s behind the title, What Happens Next?
DB: First, I simply liked the common application: the question a reader continuously asks as a story unfolds. But there’s also the far more essential story of one’s life unfolding. Here, it’s age that increasingly becomes the story teller, the omniscient narrator, supplying the plot surprises. Obviously, we’re not the reader of this story. We’re the main character, who asks even more imperatively, “What happens next?”

CC: Woven throughout these pages are what you call the “dual calendars” of your own mortality and that of your aging parents. What did you figure out about the experience of growing older that might help others in the same situation?
DB: As we age, we are increasingly two separate selves—our internal self, which has at least the chance to remain what I’ll call “youthful,” staying alive to learning, to experience, and so forth; and the physical self, which does not have that chance. (I sometimes think of the body I see when I look in the mirror as some terribly unfortunate costume I’ve been forced to wear over my actual body.) The more we’re able to accept that separation, the better the possibility of accepting the terms that time ruthlessly insists on. So much easier said than done.

CC: You had a wonderful mentor in renowned food writer M.F.K. Fisher. How you come to meet her?
DB: I describe our meeting in “What We Hunger For,” one of the sections of the book. She was assigned by Playboy magazine, where I‘d recently been hired in the early ‘70s, to go to New Orleans and write about the food. We spent a magical week eating and talking and wandering the city, during which I gained seven pounds and she, as she claimed in a follow-up letter, lost about the same amount. But I gained much more than weight. I gained her unlikely—I was twenty-six and she was sixty-two—and irreplaceable life-long friendship.

CC: Quite a lot of food writing today (like Michael Pollan’s latest, Cooked) celebrates cooking and mealtimes as occasions for bringing fragmented modern families together. In What Happens Next, though, you show how both can express tensions in a family that seems outwardly to embody the ideal we are being urged to strive for. What should we make of this apparent contradiction?
DB: As M.F.K. Fisher’s writing pioneered, food and eating can be used metaphorically to talk about other matters in the lives of those doing the eating. A section of my book, “What Was Served,” uses the daily meal my mother served my father, grandfather, and me as a boy as a way of writing about the family’s history and the tensions that were also being silently, invisibly “served” with the food, passed around the table. And in another sense, my mother was “serving” me, that is, was acting in the service of my well-being, by keeping me ignorant of family difficulties.

What Happens Next? Matters of Life and Death by Douglas Bauer