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Author of 'The Magical Stranger' to Lecture at Medill

Journalist, writer Stephen Rodrick explores the life and death of his Navy pilot father

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May 20, 2013 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Journalist and author Stephen Rodrick will discuss his new book, “The Magical Stranger: A Son’s Journey into His Father’s Life,” Thursday, May 23, at Northwestern University.

Presented by Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Rodrick’s lecture will take place at 4 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, on the Evanston campus. The event is free and open to the public. 

In his newly published book, the author explores the life and death of his father, Commander Peter Rodrick, an accomplished Navy pilot who died when his plane crashed in the Indian Ocean, leaving behind a devastated wife, two daughters and a 13-year-old son. The son felt compelled to write about his father, family and the devastating consequences of military service. 

To better understand his father and his own experience growing up without him, Rodrick turned to current members of his father’s former squadron and spent two years with VAQ-135, “The World-Famous Black Ravens.” His travels took him around the world, from Okinawa and Hawaii to Bahrain and the Persian Gulf -- but always back to Whidbey Island, the setting of his family’s story.

A contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and contributing editor to Men’s Journal, Rodrick earned a master’s degree in journalism from Medill in 1991. He has written for New York magazine, Rolling Stone, GQ and The New Republic.

His work has been anthologized in “The Best American Crime Writing,” “The Best American Political Writing,” “Wild Stories: The Best of Men’s Journal,” “Going Long: The Best Stories from Runners World” and “The Philadelphia Reader,” a best of Philadelphia magazine compilation.

“Stephen Rodrick is the kind of writer -- longform, books and more -- that our students aspire to be,” says Patti Wolter, associate professor at Medill. “We are thrilled to have him come back and share his wisdom.”

Books will be available for purchase at the event. For more information on the May 23 lecture, contact Belinda Clarke at b-clarke@northwestern.edu or (847) 491-3636.