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Midwestern author who is paralyzed to speak at disabilities forum

RELEASED: Oct. 8, 2010

Driftless book cover
"Driftless" author David Rhodes will speak Oct. 21 at UW-Eau Claire's Schneider Disability Issues Forum.

EAU CLAIRE — A Midwestern author who wrote three critically acclaimed novels before a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the chest down and sidelined his career for 30 years will speak at the second annual Schneider Disability Issues Forum.

David Rhodes, who began to publish again in 2008, will give a presentation about his career and newest novel at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in Phillips Recital Hall of the Haas Fine Arts Center at UW-Eau Claire. The presentation, titled "Words in Wisconsin," is free and open to the public.

Rhodes will talk about his recent book, "Driftless," which is a funny, poignant novel with themes of isolation, spirituality, marital discord, aging and death. The book is set in a small town in Wisconsin and includes a quirky cast of characters: among them, a middle-aged couple who guards the family farm from the schemes of their milk cooperative; a paraplegic who suddenly regains the use of her legs; a pastor who finds enlightenment when she least expects it; a cantankerous and prejudiced retiree; and a former drifter who forever alters the ties that bind the community together. The Chicago Tribune praised the book as "the best work of fiction to come out of the Midwest in many years."

Rhodes, who received a master's degree in fine arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1971, is the author of "The Last Fair Deal Going Down," published in 1972; "The Easter House," published in 1974; and "Rock Island Line," published in 1975.

Rhodes will answer questions and sign books following the presentation. The book will be on sale after the talk.

The disabilities forum was established by Dr. Katherine Schneider, a UW-Eau Claire senior psychologist emerita, through a gift to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation in 2009. This year's event is co-sponsored by the Chippewa Valley Book Festival, UW-Eau Claire Services for Students with Disabilities and the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.

Schneider wrote her own book relating to her experiences as a blind person, "To the Left of Inspiration: Adventures in Living with Disabilities," and a children's book titled "Your Treasure Hunt: Disabilities and Finding Your Gold." She worked in Counseling Services at UW-Eau Claire for 14 years and established the forum to help people understand accessibility issues for people who have disabilities.

For accessibility accommodations to attend the event, call 715-836-4542. Free parking for the event is available in the Haas Fine Arts Center lot and in the lot on Water Street directly across from the Hass Fine Arts Center.

For more information about how to support the lecture series and/or disability services at UW-Eau Claire, call Kimera Way, executive director of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, at 715-835-5180 or visit the Foundation website.

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KH/DW

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