<em>Others Had It Worse</em> just released by UI Press
Friday, August 30, 2013

Chris Baker, alumnus of the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will read from his new book, Others Had It Worse: Sour Dock, Moonshine, and Hard Times in Davis County, Iowa, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, in a free reading at Prairie Lights Books in downtown Iowa City. The reading also will be streamed live on the University of Iowa Writing University website.

others had it worse book cover

Others Had It Worse, just released by the University of Iowa Press, stems from Baker’s decision in 1977 to give his grandmother Vetra Covert (credited as co-author of the book) a notebook and ask her to write about her childhood. Years later, long after her death in 1990, Baker found the tattered yellow notebook. In 29 handwritten pages, the woman he knew as Grandma Covert had recorded her younger life in rural Iowa between 1920 and 1929. Writing about herself from the ages of 4 to 13, Vetra Covert sent a simple message back to her grandson: “That’s just the way it was. Others had it worse. We got by.”

Captivated by this glimpse of a woman very different from the more formidable grandmother of his memory, Baker reframed Covert’s journal to create a narrative of her childhood and a window into rural Iowa life in the 1920s. Transcribing her words into nine chapters that illuminate home, family, neighbors, school, and social life, he has composed a collection of candid, whimsical, sometimes ornery stories that will resonate with anyone who has ever tried to decipher the lives found in old letters and photos.

In addition to the Prairie Lights reading, Baker will appear on Talk of Iowa with Charity Nebbe (the Iowa Public Radio program begins at 10 a.m.). And that afternoon, he will be a guest lecturer in Professor Judy Polumbaum’s Magazine Reporting and Writing course.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to attend this reading, contact Jan Weissmiller in advance at Prairie Lights, 319-337-2681.

For a UI arts calendar and details about upcoming events visit the Arts Iowa website.