Tuesday, April 7, 2020

In these strange and difficult times, the University of Iowa Press, with the Writing University, is reaching out to its authors to gain perspective, advice, humor and connection. We want to know how they are doing, first and foremost: we are primarily checking in. But we also want to know how they are living (or surviving, or managing) with the pandemic that surrounds all of us. We are a family here -- the press, the authors, the university -- and this is what families do: we check in.

Today's author conversation came from Paula Becker. Becker is the author of Looking For Betty MacDonald: The Egg, The Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and I, and co-author of The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World's Fair and Its Legacy and Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition: Washington's First World's Fair. Her newest book, from University of Iowa Press, is A House on Stilts: Mothering in the Age of Opioid Addiction, a memoir.

Paula wrote UI Press marketing director Allison Means about her daily life during the pandemic:


1. What book(s) do you recommend for this time of isolation?

Betty MacDonald, especially The Plague and I and Anybody Can Do Anything, both reissued by and available from University of Washington Press.

Timothy Eagan, A Pilgrimage to Eternity

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters, ed. by Charlotte Mosley. My #1 desert island book.


 2. What are 3 good things that happened today?

Shopping for vegetables at Sosio's, one of the few Pike Place Market stalls still open. The owner is social distancing his staff but laying off NO ONE. I feel much safer there in the open air than I do in the touch/touch/touch produce section of my grocery store.

One friend came by to pick up books I'd left her on my porch, and we had a lovely socially-distanced chat while she ran her new puppy around my front yard. Then, as I took my daily solo hour-long walk, a good friend who had been picking up supplies at Target rode by on her electric bike. She stopped about 10 feet from me, and we had a lovely chat. Two actual friend visits in one day is unprecedented -- I am taking this extremely seriously.

My son Sawyer, 24, who lives alone but is in our "bubble," walked over and we had a nice visit.

3. What is your isolation playlist?

I am listening to Ronan Farrow read Catch and Kill on my daily walks. Also podcasts while I cook: Spilled Milk, This American Life, Fresh Air, Grief Outloud

4. Could you share an image of your new “coworker(s)” (pets, kids, etc.) or your new "office" (my desk is literally in a closet)?

Feeling fortunate on this one, since I have worked from home for 20 years. Nothing has changed for me in this regard.


Thanks Paula!



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Photo by Galina N on Unsplash