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Tuesday, October 21

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Book Club

Reviews Mon Oct 20 2014

Blind's Self-Pitying Narrator is Tough to Love

If you speak to any sighted person, becoming blind later on in life is an utterly devastating proposition. They would have no idea how blind people cope, how organizations thrive to better our lives, or how we could overcome so many mundane challenges in a single day. Blind by Rachel DeWoskin is an assumptive story that is a calming, engrossing read that doesn't hold many answers about how blind people -- such as myself -- accurately or factually live life but houses a wonderful plot and premise beneath stellar writing.

Continue reading this entry »

Robert Kingett / Comments (0)

Bookmarks Fri Oct 17 2014


Tomorrow! Hit City Lit Books for Chicago Poets Night, where some of the city's best will read their latest work, 3 pm.

Tomorrow! Hilltop Restaurant hosts the College of Complexes, featuring author Rosalie Riegle, 6 pm.

Tomorrow! Carnival at Bray author Jessie Ann Foley speaks at City Lit Books, 7 pm.

Tomorrow! In the spirit of Halloween, Sulzer Regional Library presents The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, 1:30 pm.

Tomorrow! Food-themed literary magazine Graze celebrates a sixth mouth-watering issue with local performers, brew, and grub! $10, which includes a copy of the issue, 8 pm.

Miden Wood / Comments (0)

Events Thu Oct 16 2014

Sex, Drugs & Nonfiction: Chuck Klosterman Reads at Columbia College

On Tuesday, Oct. 21, the Poetry and Nonfiction Reading Series at Columbia College Chicago welcomes author Chuck Klosterman for a reading at 33 E. Congress, Room 101, at 5:30pm.

Hosted by the college's Department of Creative Writing's MFA Nonfiction program, Klosterman will give a nonfiction reading (a genre which he can definitely cover lest we forget his debut Fargo Rock City). This reading series is committed to bringing in guests that are critically engaging, culturally relevant and offer diverse voices (he can cover that too).

There will be an opportunity to purchase books and meet the author at the end of the program. The event is free and open to the public.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Author Thu Oct 16 2014

John Lahr and His "Mad Pilgrimage:" Writing the Biography of Tennessee Williams


John Lahr, veteran writer and biographer, sat on the Steppenwolf Theatre stage Monday night to discuss his definitive and intimate biography of Tennessee Williams, one of America's greatest playwrights.

His book, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (Norton 2014) is one of the five nominees for the nonfiction National Book Award.

Lahr and Martha Lavey, Steppenwolf artistic director, were seated on a stage dressed for the cluttered Irish bachelor-hoarder's apartment for the current Steppenwolf production, Conor McPherson's The Night Alive. Lavey, whose departure as artistic director was recently announced, was prepared with her own advance copy of the book stuffed with fuchsia post-it notes. She asked short, pointed questions and let Lahr warm to his subject.

Williams, born Thomas Lanier Williams in 1911, adopted the name Tennessee early in his writing career. He wrote some 70 plays including masterpieces such as The Glass Menagerie, Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Night of the Iguana, The Rose Tattoo and Summer and Smoke.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Events Wed Oct 15 2014

To-Do This Month: Chicago Humanities Festival 2014

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Who better to discuss journeys than Jamaica Kincaid, Cheryl Strayed, Marjane Satrapi or Philippe Petit? Than those makers who traversed oceans, countries, revolutions; who proved that the most harrowing journeys can occur within just two hundred feet of tightrope?

The much-anticipated Chicago Humanities Festival returns for its 25th year with an extraordinary line-up of events, all centered around the theme of "Journeys." The tremendous talent includes, in addition to the aforementioned, writers like Ben Marcus (Leaving the Sea, Flame Alphabet), Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Eula Bliss (On Immunity), Gary Shteyngart (Little Failure), and Jesmyn Ward (The Men We Reaped) to name only a few. Sit in on conversations with these authors and more as they recount journeys actual and notional; from the adventures that inspired their books to the very personal journey of writing them.

In addition to relishing favorite authors, lit lovers can revel in A Moth StorySLAM or any of a number of lectures. Unearth the original iteration of Hamlet, investigate J. Edgar Hoover's fascination with the Harlem Renaissance, or analyze love in all its guilty pleasure modernity with "Modern Love" editor Daniel Jones.

The festival kicks off on Oct. 21 with a Benefit Gala featuring The New York Times Op-Ed Journalist, David Brooks. Then, on Oct. 25, CHF begins full swing, with such a wide array of event topics as to make traveling to one program after another a journey in and of itself. In short, if you were looking for something to do between Oct. 25 and Nov. 9, Chicago Humanities can ensure that you will never be bored [PDF].

Miden Wood / Comments (0)

Author Tue Oct 14 2014

Lit from Chicago, Mexico City Celebrated at Lit & Luz Festival


With each gust of wind the weary thought of winter gets stronger in our heads and suddenly we're all thinking about taking extended vacations in Mexico. Well, for those that can't get away, there's Lit & Luz: a festival featuring visual art, performances, and, of course, readings (how could we forget the readings?) with artists and authors from Chicago and Mexico City. The festival kicks off today at various locations throughout Chicago.

Lasting for four days, (Oct 15-18), Lit & Luz has lectures, interviews, and readings from strong, up-and-coming novelists and poets, such as Álvaro Enrigue, Valeria Luiselli, and Luis Felipe Fabre. Most of the readings are free, although tickets to the closing party, "A Live Magazine Show Extravaganza" put on by MAKE Literary Magazine are going for $15.

Jack McCormick / Comments (1)

Bookmarks Fri Oct 10 2014


Tonight! Lagunitas founder Tony Magee presents his book So You Want to Start a Brewery?: The Lagunitas Story at City Lit Books, 6:30 pm.

Tonight! Naked Girls Reading presents naked girls, reading! Check out their Halloween iteration, Naked Ghouls Reading, tonight at Everleigh Social Club, 7 pm.

Tonight! Make your way to Women & Children First for an evening with authors Adrianne Kalfopoulou and David Lazar, who will be reading their works, 7:30 pm.

Saturday! Head to Gallery 400 for Young Chicago Poets' collaborative piece, A Feminist Perspective on Gun Violence in Chicago: Screening and Performance, 4 - 6 pm.

Sunday! Mystery novelist Michael Black stops into Centuries & Sleuths for a signing of his book Chimes at Midnight, 2 pm.

Miden Wood / Comments (0)

Events Fri Oct 10 2014

You're Invited to A Casual Reading This Saturday

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You are cordially invited to The Learning Machine, 3145 S. Morgan, in Bridgeport this Saturday, October 11th, 7pm for A Casual Reading.

The night's entertainment will be anything but. Words from writers Amanda Goldblatt, Cecilia Stelzer, and Swoon Lake. Images/words from writer/artist Jen Rickert. Musical accompaniment includes Harmonica Blues by Dance Lance.

Attire: casual.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Book Club Wed Oct 08 2014

Reflections on The Giving Tree at 50

It's the 50th anniversary of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree -- perhaps the world's most contentious story of a sentient tree. It's a classic story -- boy meets tree, tree falls in love with boy, boy strips tree bare of apples, branches, and finally trunk until tree is just a stump and boy is a lonely, bitter old man. As a kid, I thought the book was sad and sort of uncomfortable for reasons I couldn't quite put a finger on; as an angry 20-something I thought the tree was a sucker, and the boy was your typical, selfish tree-killing man. But I've come around to thinking this is a subtly brilliant indictment of some of the things we value the most.

The New York Times ran an article in their Book Review section last week: two writers debated "whether the book is a tender story of unconditional love or a disturbing tale of monstrous selfishness." Frankly, it's neither. Silverstein wasn't a dummy. He put the meaning of the book right there in the title. It's about giving. And giving, being generous, makes us very uncomfortable. Because giving, really giving, feels like losing. To give something to someone else, you must lose something of yourself. This is a very American way to look at generosity. Some of us (me) were taught very young to gird our loins against those who wanted stuff from us, and according to paranoid '80s parents, everyone wanted stuff from us. But even beyond that, for me, at least, real generosity was portrayed as martyrdom, death -- with reward, sure, but still death.

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Eden Robins / Comments (0)

Events Wed Oct 08 2014

The Reader's Dilemma: Which Thursday Night Event to Attend

This Thursday, Oct. 9, is one of the more challenging nights of competing literary events in recent memory, as Michael Chabon, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Steven Pinker will all be appearing in different parts of the city.

coates pinker chabon

Coates, a senior editor and writer for The Atlantic and journalist-in-residence at City University of New York, wrote the controversial story "The Case for Reparations," which examined the cultural and economic issues surrounding violence in Chicago's mostly black neighborhoods. He'll discuss the article and the issue as a whole at 5pm in Roosevelt University's 10th floor library, 430 S. Michigan Ave.

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Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Events Mon Oct 06 2014

Get Funky Tuesday at Tuesday Funk

Tuesday Funk October 2014This Tuesday, Oct. 7, the 74th edition of Tuesday Funk will live up to its tagline with a truly eclectic show, featuring Mark Turcotte, Noel Jones, Paul McComas and Maya Kuper, Lori Rader-Day, and Dmitry Samarov.

The reading gets underway promptly at 7:30pm in the upstairs lounge at Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St., Chicago. Doors open at 7pm -- no earlier unfortunately, but get there as close to 7 as possible to secure a table, as the room fills up quickly. Gapers Block's Andrew Huff and Eden Robins co-host.

RSVP on Facebook and bring a friend. No cover, 21+

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Bookmarks Fri Oct 03 2014


Tonight! Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz reads from her new book, Dr Mütter's Marvels at Quimby's, 7 pm.

Saturday! Illinois Woman's Press Association makes an appearance at the Book Cellar to celebrate the release of a collection of member's works, The Anthology, 7 pm.

Saturday! If you enjoyed Printers Ball this summer, then start gearing up for next year by bidding on original artwork in a silent auction at Spudnik Press, 7 pm.

Sunday! Here, Chicago returns to Stage 773 for a livelit show and potluck. Grab some grub and gnosh on original tales, 8 pm.

Miden Wood / Comments (1)

Events Fri Oct 03 2014

Two Cookie Minimum Resurrects Silver Tongue Reading Series

As host of the reading series Two Cookie Minimum, I set out each month to book a show that I would like to see and then hope others will be as excited as I am for it. For the October reading, I connected with Mason Johnson, an old friend in the literary scene, to help curate the month's readers (it's gets hard to do this month after month so I asked for some assistance). Johnson is a writer for CBS online, a 2010 graduate of Columbia College's Fiction Writing Department, and author of Sad Robot Stories (Chicago Center for Literature and Photography). When at Columbia, Johnson was host of Silver Tongue, a student run reading series. The series was funded through special events office of student affairs. The advisors (writers themselves, Jill Summers, Dave Snyder and Mairead Case) allowed students to curate readers, book special guests and put out the literary magazine Mad Licks. The series was a sponsor of lit events such as Printer's Ball and Chicago Zine Fest. It booked writers such as Lindsay Hunter, Tao Lin, and Ian Belknap. Each reading featured Columbia student readers. It was booked by students, for students. Due to staff changes, budget and student support, the series ended its run in mid-2013. It began in 2008.

On Tuesday, October 7th, Two Cookie Minimum will resurrect the idea of the Silver Tongue reading series with Johnson reprising as host. The reading will feature past students (all have since graduated) including Lauryn Allison Lewis author of Solo Down (also on CCLaP), Devan Perine member the band Sojourner, writer Andi White, comedian Mr. Dan Shapiro, and writer Ian Jones (who was host after Johnson graduated). Joining will be the series advisors, writer Jill Summers (main advisor for the series' tenure) and poet Dave Snyder (who coined the series' name). Johnson will deliver eulogies for each reader and has a few other tricks up of his sleeve.

In preparation for the event, I interviewed Johnson via email to get a better understanding of what the series meant to him. He provided a brief series history, some memorable moments and how the experience aided his writing career.

Can you give a brief history of the reading series and how long were you part of it?

Two years. I think. Some stuff happened, then I arrived. Then I left. Then some more stuff happened. I don't want to downplay the influence of those who came before (Jasmine Neosh and co.) or after (Ian Jones, Sandra Lee Ersnberger, and co.) me, but I'm the one who brought the pizazz. Everyone else who's been involved has been, like, authentic Italian food and I was Olive Garden. Sure, whatever, your spaghetti's great, grandma, but... well, let's just say I hit that school like a basket full of free bread sticks, and those bratty college kids ate me up.

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John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Events Sun Sep 28 2014

Hey Dude, Don't Miss Reading Under the Influence On October 1st

Longstanding series Reading Under the Influence is at it again, Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 7pm at their home, the back room of Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave.

The month's theme is Dude Ranch. That could reference anything from the title of a Blink 182 album, the setting of a John Wayne Western, or the title of a classic '90s Nickelodeon television show. See how it is interpreted by readers, Brian Costello (author of Losing in Gainesville), Matt Rowan (author of Why God Why), Joseph G. Peterson (author of Gideon's Confession) and Gint Aras (author of Finding the Moon in Sugar).

Readers read twice, once with original work and again with published work related to the night's theme. Trivia questions per the theme will be asked with drink tickets and literary swag awarded to the victors.

Stay for drink specials, $2 domestic bottles and some barbecued vittles. There is a $3 cover, and it's 21 and over.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Bookmarks Fri Sep 26 2014


Tonight! Plant yourself amongst a wide array of authors, artists, and architects for the Chicago Botanic Garden's Novel Affair, 6 pm.

Tonight! Well-read rebels read from some of the most commonly banned books to celebrate Banned Book Week. Listen to passages from old controversial favorites like To Kill a Mockingbird, Persepolis, Watership Down, and The Lorax at Logan Square's City Lit Books, 6:30 pm.

Tonight! Join Unabridged Bookstore in Exploring Creative Non-Fiction, featuring writers Megan Stielstra, Dmitry Samarov, and Wendy C. Ortiz, as they discuss fact that reads like fiction, 7 pm.

Tonight! Women & Children First hosts author Amina Gautier as she reads from her book Now We Will Be Happy, 7:30 pm.

Tonight! No relevant experience required to enjoy poet Chris Green's latest collection Résumé at the Book Cellar, 7 pm.

Tonight! Head to Challenger Comics + Conversation to get your copy of Lucy Knisley's new graphic novel Age of License signed by the maker herself, 7 pm.

Saturday! Spend your afternoon at Newberry Library, where author Michael Blanding discusses a book as compelling as its subtitle is long: The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps, 1 pm.

Saturday! Former Chicago-Sun Times columnist Debra Pickett presents her debut book Reporting Lives at City Lit Books, 5 pm.

Saturday! Make your way to Quimby's Bookstore for a celebration of John Porcellino's new graphic novel, The Hospital Suite, as well as a screening of King-Cat Comics documentary Root Hog or Die, 7 pm.

Saturday! The Kates return to the Book Cellar for more hilarious live lit. Check it out at 7 pm.

Sunday! Free Bourbon. Now that I have your attention, check out the Book Cellar's author event featuring Michael Veach, along with distillers Bill Rix Welter and Paul Heltko, as they discuss Veach's new book, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage. Free bourbon tasting to follow, and all spirits will be available for purchased at Provenance down the street, 4 pm.

Miden Wood / Comments (0)

Gapers Block presents Tuesday Funk, Chicago's ecclectic monthly reading series.



Mon Oct 20 2014
Story Collector Presents: A Live Lit Showdown, Readers v. Tellers @ Haymarket

Mon Oct 20 2014
Louder than a Mom @ Martyrs'

Mon Oct 20 2014
Essay Fiesta @ Book Cellar

Mon Oct 20 2014
Between Bites @ Frontier

Tue Oct 21 2014
Story Club South Side @ Co-Prosperity Sphere

Tue Oct 21 2014
Write Club @ Hideout

Wed Oct 22 2014
Guild Complex Prose Awards

About GB Book Club

Book Club is the literary section of Gapers Block, covering Chicago's authors, poets and literary events. More...

Editor: Miden Wood,
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