Books and Authors

International Writing Program Turns 50

Sep 20, 2017
Credit Ben Kieffer

The International Writing Program at the University of Iowa is one of the university's signature programs, attracting notable authors from across the world and establishing both the university and Iowa City as paramount to the future of American literature. 

Since 1967, over 1,400 writers from more than 150 countries have come to Iowa. International Writing Program director Christopher Merrill explains how the program came about.

Jon Kerstetter has experienced many "crossings" in his lifefrom a civilian doctor to a medical officer in the Army National Guard, and then, after a career-ending stroke, from a medical provider to a recovering patient.

In this hour of Talk of Iowa, Jon Kerstetter talks with host Charity Nebbe about his life's transformations, detailed in his new book, Crossings: A Doctor-Soldier's Story. 

http://www.mattkuhns.com

The Iowa and Iowa State football rivalry as we know it today only dates back to 1977, but even during the years when the Cyclones never played the Hawkeyes, there was a rivalry between the two schools. And the sports rivalry may pale in comparison to a conflict when Virgil Hancher was the president of the University of Iowa and James Hilton was the President of Iowa State University.  Matt Kuhns has written about those years in the new book Hancher vs. Hilton: Iowa’s Rival University Presidents.

Heather Mill, Penguin Random House

The author of a new book says the race to private space exploration began with Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. Julian Guthrie wrote How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race and the Birth of Private Spaceflight to tell the story of the Xprize and the teams competing for the $10 million prize.

John Pemble

Bruce Campbell has been producing and starring in films since the 1970s, and through work largely with low-budget horror films, he has carved out a niche for himself as an iconic B movie actor. His most recognized role is that of Ash in the Evil Dead film franchise, which has produced three films, six video games, numerous comic books, and a critically-acclaimed TV show on Starz entitled Ash vs. Evil Dead, which was renewed for a third season in 2016. He mentions how his horror movie The Evil Dead received some added credibility from a fellow horror icon.

Rachel.Adams / Flickr

Great advancements in technology certainly assist everyday life, but these advancements often inflict people with dread.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with two novelists, Benjamin Percy and Alissa Nutting, who reflect these anxieties in their work.

Brian Borland knew that his dad was a phenomenal basketball player as he was growing up. What he didn't know was that his mom, Carolyn Nicholson, was an Iowa high school basketball superstar. 

"I was at my parents condo in 2006, and I heard them talking about going back to Des Moines for the 50th anniversary of Maynard winning the state championship in 1956. And I was like 'what state championship?'" he explains. "She said, 'well me and your aunt Glenda played basketball and we won a state championship when we were younger. Do you want to come with me?'"

W.W. Norton & Co.

This hour, host Charity Nebbe speaks live with two Iowa writers, Inara Verzemnieks and Elizabeth Dinschel.

What's in a Name?

Aug 14, 2017
Image courtesy of Eviatar Bach

Baby names tend to peak in popularity, and then decline over the following years. According to the Social Security Administration, none of the top ten male or female baby names in Iowa from 1960 showed up in the top ten in 2016. Names like David, Mary, Michael, and Lori have been slowly replaced by Oliver, Emma, Owen, and Olivia. Patricia O’Conner, language expert and author, discusses the decline in popularity in the once ever-present names "John" and "Mary."

Sandy Dyas Photography

Susan Becker was having a tough time.  Her mother had recently died.  She started feeling like she had made wrong decisions. She wasn't motivated.  She decided there needed to be a change.

She got a job as a lunch lady in Bellevue in northeast Iowa, and she was managing a staff that was many years older than her.  It was challenging, and ultimately it was enjoyable, meaningful, and sparked a renewed outlook on her life.  

"These ladies, what they considered their job...it was service with love."

University of Iowa Press

Bix Beiderbecke was a self-taught cornet player from Davenport, a white kid from the corn belt born in 1903.  He only lived to be 28 years old, but against all odds his musical influence has lasted for generations.  This hour, host Charity Nebbe speaks to author Brendan Wolfe, who grew up in Beiderbecke's hometown.  Wolfe's new book is called "Finding Bix: The Live and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend." (University of Iowa Press)

Charity Nebbe

The Civil War is the deadliest war in American history, with hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered by both the Union and Confederate sides.

In Some of Our Yesterdays, a memoir posthumously unearthed by the family of Charles Seton Lindsay, the Civil War experience is vividly told by Lindsay, who fought for the Union as a teenager after enlisting against his family's wishes. He recalls the horrors of battle he witnessed in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Courtesy of the Gable Family

Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable has been a household name in Iowa for decades. After bringing home three state wrestling championships in high school, he went on to the 1972 Munich Olympics, where he successfully wrestled without losing a single point. He famously coached the University of Iowa team to win 15 NCAA titles before retiring after the 1997 season. Since then he has continued to coach and has been actively working to keep Olympic and collegiate wrestling alive and thriving.

Sarvinder Naberhaus and Kadir Nelson / Kirkus Reviews

Children's author Sarvinder Naberhaus' family emigrated from India to Ames in 1965. In her new book, Blue Sky White Stars, Naberhaus juxtaposes the design of the American flag with what the country represents to her and many others chasing the American Dream.

Thomas Rydberg

Author Terry McDermott grew up in Cascade, Iowa with a passion for baseball instilled by his father. Inspired by Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez’s perfectly pitched game in 2012, McDermott wrote his latest book Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching and the Art of Deception. After explaining different types of pitches, McDermott’s novel combines a pitcher’s thoughts and strategy with baseball data and narrates readers through the perfect baseball game.

http://drakecommunitypress.org/

How many churches are there in Des Moines? How many mosques, temples, or places of worship are there? More than you might think. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Tim Knepper, editor of the new book A Spectrum of Faith that was put together by more than one-hundred students at Drake University and highlights the religious diversity of Iowa.

Vivian Chen / flickr

The way women communicate with their friends can be subtle but powerful. Georgetown University professor of linguistics Deborah Tannen studies interpersonal relationships and communication patterns between women and the ways in which they differ from those of men. These differences can often be frustrating to those involved.

IPR’s 2017 Summer Book List

Jun 12, 2017
Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

The summer months can be a great time of the year to crack open a new book. During this hour on Talk of Iowa, Jan Weismiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Book Store in Iowa City and Kathy Magruder from Pageturners Book Store in Indianola join host Charity Nebbe to discuss both their new and classic book recommendations to add to your summer reading list.

FICTION:

Jan's picks:

Do Not Become Alarmed—Maile Meloy

Joyce Russell/IPR

An Iowa author’s book about Governor Branstad’s long tenure in office is being translated into Chinese by a Beijing publisher.  

Newton author and former newspaperman Mike Chapman wrote Iowa’s Record Setting Governor: The Terry Branstad Story in 2015.  

Two Chinese publishers expressed an interest in translating the book.

Author Loretta Ellsworth has written a number of books for young adults. This is her first novel aimed at an adult reader.  The reader is taken back and forth in time as the main character recalls her life and cherished memories.  The historic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake is part of the setting weaved together with a 1940's World War II backdrop.  Ellsworth grew up in Mason City and her own parents met at the Surf Ballroom.

Matthew Robey / Flickr

On this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe talks with Keith Lesmeister, author of We Could’ve Been Happy Here, a collection of short stories that all take place in Iowa. They are intimate, personal stories that give glimpses into what may be going on below the surface.

Lesmeister grew up in the Cedar Rapids area, and he now teaches at Northeast Iowa Community College and lives near Decorah.

River Lights Bookstore in Dubuque will be hosting Lesmeister for a reading on Friday, May 19th at 5:30 pm.

Harvard Square Press

This hour, we hear about the life of Michael Majok Kuch, a featured "Lost Boy of Sudan" from the PBS documentary "Dinka Diaries," as described in the poet Harriet Levin Millan's first novel "How Fast Can You Run." (Harvard Square Press). 

Behind the Blots: Hermann Rorschach's Ink Test

Apr 27, 2017
Penguin Random House

We’ve all heard references to the “Rorschach test,” but when you hear that term these days, it’s more likely a cultural reference than a clinical one.  In his new book The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing, award-winning translator and Guggenheim recipient Damion Searls tells us about the little known life of the man who created that test -- Hermann Rorschach.

Nina Subin

Public radio listeners have been listening to Maureen Corrigan’s advice for decades. Corrigan has been the book reviewer for NPR’s Fresh Air for 27 years, she is literary critic for the Washington Post, and the Jamie and Nicki Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism at Georgetown University.

In this Talk of Iowa interview, she talks with host Charity Nebbe about how she chooses what books to review out of the 200 plus that she receives each week. She also describes her love of reading for work and pleasure.

Lit City Episode Ten: Forgotten by History

Apr 13, 2017
IMDb

Like the title character of her 1933 novel Miss Bishop, Iowa-born author Bess Streeter Aldrich is finally getting the recognition she deserves. Although she wrote 14 novels and countless popular short stories, Aldrich was long forgotten... until recently, that is, when her hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa decided to name an elementary school after her.

Need a New Podcast to Binge? Try IPR's "Lit City"

Apr 7, 2017

The tenth and final episode of the first season of Lit City, Iowa Public Radio’s new book podcast, goes live next Thursday, April 13th. Co-hosted by IPR's Charity Nebbe and UI English Ph.D. student Anna Williams, Lit City revisits author interviews from Talk of Iowa while also exploring the sights and sounds of the United States’ only UNESCO City of Literature – Iowa City.

Beth Jusino / Flickr

It’s not only drugs that can cause addiction. New research shows dependence on your smart phone may produce some of the same addictive brain responses. 

In this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Adam Alter, an associate professor of marketing at New York University and author of the new book IRRESISTIBLE: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.

According to Alter, the definition of the term “addiction” has expanded over the years to include not only substances, but behaviors as well.

University of Iowa Press

Who would think that doing a key word search of a massive newspaper database would turn up a previously unknown short novel by the much beloved 19th century author Walt Whitman?   University of Houston graduate student Zachary Turpin was the detective who uncovered his second Whitman find in an 1852 issue of an obscure New York City newspaper. 

Claudia McGehee / University of Minnesota Press

After children's book author Jacqueline Briggs Martin read an article in the paper about a man who had restored a creek back into a thriving habitat, something about the story struck her.

"It was amazing that the whole ecosystem has restored itself," she says. "How did the frogs, birds, and bugs know to come back? I found it remarkable that the ecosystem could build itself up."

The History Press

In 1908, the Rev. William Lloyd Clark of Davenport wrote: "If I owned Hell and Davenport, I would sell Davenport and keep Hell."  Iowa's largest metropolis along the Mississippi River was called "the worst city in the country" and "the wickedest city in the west" by many people and it was the Bucktown neighborhood on the east edge of downtown that earned Davenport that reputation. 

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