Paul Lisicky and Garth Greenwell were the spotlight readers on Thursday night at Prairie Lights. Both are esteemed authors who graduated from the writing program here at the University of Iowa. The audience sat wordless as they listened to a section from Garth Greenwell’s new novel and Paul Lisicky’s memior.
Garth Greenwell read a section from his novel, “What Belongs to You.” This novel is about the relationship between an American teacher and a Bulgarian man named Mitko. The teacher pays Mitko for sex, but as their relationship deepens, he begins to develop feelings for Mitko. The section he read was about one of the times they are romantic together and it gets pretty graphic, so if you are squeamish towards those things, this book probably isn’t for you. But the wording was beautiful and you could really feel the attachment the narrator had to Mitko.
Paul Lisicky, a recent Guggenheim Fellowship winner, read the first chapter of his memoir, “The Narrow Door”. This book is about two relationships, one with a woman named Denise who has cancer and the other with his husband, Em. The section he read was mostly about Denise’s cancer. It wasn’t in chronological order, which made it difficult to follow when it was read aloud. It was still interesting and well written, but definitely confusing.
The whole reading was wonderful. The atmosphere of the Prairie Lights was perfect for this performance or even reading a new novel, maybe Paul or Garth’s. The whole experience was breathtaking.