As part of the workshop Quotes & Appropriation, Omaha Uninitiated features readings from the novella On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown presented alongside a selection of photographs, film, and music that inspired the prose. Through historical photographs of Omaha, Nebraska, and popular American film and music from the World War I era, the presentation investigates the celebration of certain identities (and degradation of others) in a time of rising nationalism and diaspora. It does this by illuminating both fictional and historical characters within the context of the presented media. This project is undertaken with the purpose of understanding the novella as a medley of primary historical sources, literary influences, and original prose, suggesting that a book is as much as about the process of its creation as its content. In addition to the readings and slideshow, DJ Darren Keen engages in a live cross-fertilization of music from the era that was important to the creation of the novella with contemporary songs, in particular music from the state of Nebraska in the past 15 years.
Theodore Wheeler, Omaha/United States — Literature, Solitude fellow 2013–2015
is also author of the novel Kings of Broken Things (Little A, 2017), and began writing the novel In Our Other Lives (Little A, 2020) when he was a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude in 2014. Winner of a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, Wheeler teaches at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, covers a civil-law and politics beat for a national news service, co-directs Omaha Lit Fest, and sidelines as a bookseller for the Dundee Book Company roving book cart, one of the world’s smallest bookstores.