New book is a nonfiction handbook
Monday, April 16, 2012

Robin Hemley, director of the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program (NWP), will introduce his new book, A Field Guide for Immersion Writing: Memoir, Journalism, and Travel, in a free event at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 19, in Prairie Lights Books and on a live stream at the Writing University website,

He will be joined in the discussion by NWP graduate students Stephanie Elizondo Griest and Inara Verzemnieks.


Hemley, an alumnus of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, explains, "I wrote this book to recalibrate the way we think of the kinds of nonfiction in which writers engage the world and write about the experiences without pretending to be objective.

"The best kind of immersion writing either uses the Self as a means to write about the world at large or uses the world at large to write about the Self in ways that aren't self-indulgent, but meaningful to others."

Hemley is the author of eight previous books of fiction and nonfiction. His awards include a 2008 Fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, two Pushcart Prizes, the Nelson Algren Award for Fiction from the Chicago Tribune, and many others.

For his most recent book, DO-OVER!, he returned to kindergarten, summer camp, the prom, and other embarrassing moments from his youth to give them another shot—this time, as a 48-year-old father of three, equipped with some adult wisdom and perspective.

Griest is the author of the memoirs Mexican Enough and Around the Bloc, and the editor of several volumes of travel writing. She will be the Viebranz Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at St. Lawrence University next fall.

Verzemnieks is a former journalist with the Oregonian and a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

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