William Steele

April 21st, 2019, marks the 30th anniversary of the film Field of Dreams, based on the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. Kinsella and his work were thrust into the limelight back in 1989 with the release of the blockbuster movie. The anniversary of Field of Dreams is being acknowledged with special anniversary screenings of the film in June, and the publication of a biography of W.P. Kinsella by Tennessee author William Steele.

With the success of Shoeless Joe, Kinsella’s other works began to gain more attention as well, including a series of short stories narrated by a young Cree, Silas Ermineskin. Although many readers praised the stories for their humour and biting social commentary, Kinsella’s success reignited criticism of his appropriation of Indigenous voices for his own benefit, and of what some claimed was overt racism.

Achievement in his professional life was tempered by chaos in his personal life, including health problems, and failed marriages. When long-term kidney issues resurfaced causing acute pain, Kinsella made his final arrangements. Never one to shy away from controversy, he insisted that his decision to end his life by physician-assisted suicide must be mentioned in the press release following his death.

Though friends and family would remember him as stubborn, complicated, curmudgeonly, honest and loyal, among a host of other adjectives, Kinsella answered, “I’m a story teller [and] my greatest satisfaction comes from leaving [while] making people laugh and also leaving them with a tear in the corner of their eye.”

Having been granted full access to Kinsella’s personal diaries, correspondence and unpublished notes—and with hours of personal interviews with Kinsella, his friends and his family—biographer William Steele offers insight into Kinsellas personal life intertwined with the critical analysis and commentary the author’s fiction has inspired.

Author William Steele grew up in Washington Court House, Ohio. He is a professor of English at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, who wrote his master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation on W.P. Kinsella’s baseball stories.

Saturday, October 5, 11:30 a.m. Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., Iowa City, IA 52240

Saturday, October 5, 1 p.m. Iowa City Masonic Building, 312 College St. Iowa City, IA 52240