Robin Hemley will read from his short story collection, Reply All, at Prairie Lights this Thursday at 7 p.m. Reply All takes a humorous, edgy, and frank look at the human art of deception and self-deception. A father accepts, without question, the many duplicate saint relics that appear in front of his cave everyday; a translator tricks Magellan by falsely translating a local chief’s words of welcome; an apple salesman a long way from home thinks he’s fallen in love; a search committee believes in its own nobility by hiring a minority writer; a cheating couple broadcast their affair to an entire listserv; a talk show host interviews the dead and hopes to learn their secrets. The ways in which humans fool themselves are infinite, and while these stories illustrate this sad fact in sometimes excruciating detail, the aim is not to skewer the misdirected, but to commiserate with them and blush in recognition.
Hemley is the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction, including Do-Over!, in which he, as a forty-eight-year-old father of three returned to kindergarten, summer camp, the prom, and other embarrassments. He has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Nelson Algren Award for Fiction, and two Pushcart Prizes. He is the program director for the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, and lives in Iowa City with his family.