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Wednesday, July 29

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Book Club

Bookmarks Fri Jul 24 2015


All Weekend! The Newberry Library hosts their 31st annual book fair throughout the weekend.

Friday! City Lit Books welcomes authors Christine Sneed and Leslie Parry for a a reading and conversation.

Saturday! Story Sessions holds their annual retreat at Little House of Glencoe (tickets available).

Sunday! Reading series the Marrow gets it going early at the Whistler.

Sunday! Sunday Salon Chicago has booked a solid lineup of writers for your entertainment at Riverview Tavern.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Essay Tue Jul 21 2015

Honoring Open Mic Poetry

We call it "live lit" these days, but the practice of performing written material for an audience goes back decades in Chicago. From storytelling sessions to coffeehouse readings to the genesis of the poetry slam, it's a tradition that only continues to grow.

One of the few awards to formally honor that tradition, Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award, presented by the Guild Literary Complex, holds its 22nd annual award ceremony this Wednesday, July 22 at 7pm at the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St.

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Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Bookmarks Fri Jul 17 2015


ALL WEEKEND! Visit the Book Fort at Pitchfork music festival including local and national publishers and presses.

SATURDAY! Neighborhood festival Learnapalooza hits Lakeview with free programming including some lit workshops including character development, self-publishing, and letterpress tutorials (various locations).

SATURDAY! The Ernest Hemingway Foundation in Oak Park celebrates the birthday of Ernest Hemingway with drinks, music and tours.

SATURDAY! University of Richmond professor Bert Ashe discusses black male identity from his work Twisted: The Dreadlock Chronicles at 57th Street Books in Hyde Park.

SATURDAY! Podcast Bad Karate welcomes guest readers as they record live at Chicago Publishers Resource Center.

SUNDAY! Magazine RHINO Poetry hosts an open mic and poetry reading at Village Tap.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Bookmarks Fri Jul 10 2015


Friday! Loose Chicks reading series comes to Uncharted Books.

Friday! Chicago Alternative Comics Expo partners with their host for a some live comics readings at Chicago Publishers Resource Center.

Friday! Shame That Tune is back at the Hideout Inn.

Saturday! Curbside Splendor book release for Chris Bower's book Little Boy Needs Ride at the Whistler (includes a shadow puppet show of a story from the book!).

Saturday! The 2nd Story holds a pop-up reading at Pub 626 in Roger's Park.

Sunday! Reading series That's All She Wrote at Great Lakes Tattoo.

Sunday! Reading series It's All True records a live podcast at A Red Orchid Theater.

Sunday! Local artist Tony Fitzpatrick holds a book release for his work Dime Stories on Curbside Splendor at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Reviews Tue Jul 07 2015

Review: Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

Time Salvager by Wesley ChuIn the year 2511, Chicago isn't somewhere you'd want to live anymore. "Everywhere they looked, rust dominated the landscape...Occasionally, a dim pale ray of light would sneak past the thick gray clouds, laying down an orange glaze across a surface...In the far distance over Lake Michigan, an electric storm sparked..."

"What happened to this place?" asks Elise Kim, a scientist who should have died over 400 years earlier. Her savior, James Griffin-Mars, responds, "Not just this place. Everywhere on Earth."

Chicago author Wesley Chu's new science fiction adventure novel from Tor Books, Time Salvager -- which hits bookstores today, July 7 -- is an impressive, ridiculously fun cross between Looper and Star Trek. Michael Bay, the pyromaniacal director of Transformers, has already optioned the book for a feature film.

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Adam Morgan / Comments (0)

Bookmarks Fri Jun 26 2015


All Weekend! The Amalgamated Printers Association celebrates ChicaGoose with workshops, panels, and a letterpress swap meet at various locations.

Saturday! Printers Ball 2015 is in full force with the theme Push and Pull, offering workshops, readings, hands-on demos and a steamroller!

Saturday! Army veteran Glenda Dugar reads from her book series Career Soldier at City Lit Books.

Saturday! The Kates host a comedy night at the Book Cellar.

Sunday! Quimby's Bookstore presents Three Songs, Three Writers Reading about those Songs at Live Wire Lounge.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Ink Thu Jun 25 2015

Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago Lit Selections

The Chicago Reader released its Best of 2015 list recently detailing local Arts, Culture, Food, Music and more. Here is a list of the best from our literary community.

Best Novelist
= Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl)
Best Nonfiction Writer = Samantha Irby (author of Meaty)
Best Journalist = Ben Joravsky
Best Playwright = Tracy Letts
Best storytelling series for potty humor = I Shit You Not
Best Literary Event = Printers Row Lit Fest
Best New Music Blogger = Lorena Cupcake
Best New Cookbook from Chicago = The Big Jones Cookbook
Best Bookstore = Myopic Books
Best Hidden Bookstore = Open Books Pilsen

Oh and there's one more category to mention,
Best Local Blog
= Gapers Block
Aw shucks!

Go pick up a copy this week in any of the yellow Chicago Reader boxes or newsstands throughout the city and read the entire Best Of list.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Interview Wed Jun 24 2015

An Interview with Chicago Author Lori Rader-Day about Her New Mystery, Little Pretty Things

Lori Rader-Day is one of Chicago's most exciting and talented writers, having won massive praise last year for her first novel, The Black Hour, a murder mystery set in Chicago. On July 7 her second novel, Little Pretty Things, will be published by Seventh Street Books, and it's one of the best books I've read in 2015.

lpt.jpgSet in the farthest reaches of Chicagoland -- a fictional small town called Midway in the cornfields of northwestern Indiana -- Little Pretty Things centers on a bizarre murder at a roadside motel, when a maid named Juliet Townsend discovers the body of her best friend from high school. It's creepy, clever, and full of surprises, the kind of book you stay up all night to read in one sitting.

Rader-Day completed her MFA in Creative Writing here in Chicago at Roosevelt University, under the mentorship of another great Chicago writer, Scott Blackwood. She was kind enough to chat with me at length about her new book.

Continue reading this entry »

Adam Morgan / Comments (0)

Bookmarks Fri Jun 19 2015


Friday! Chicago Center for Literature and Photography releases author Ben Tanzer's newest book New York Stories at City Lit Books.

Saturday! Chicago Alternative Comics Expo leads a comics workshop for LGBTQ/gender non-conforming youth at the Bezazian Branch Library.

Saturday! Reading series You're Being Ridiculous celebrates LGBTQIA Pride Month with a reading at Women & Children First Bookstore.

Saturday! Author Catie Disabato discusses her new book The Ghost Network at the Book Cellar.

Sunday! Reading series the Marrow makes the move to the Whistler.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Reviews Fri Jun 19 2015

Father's Day Review: Lost in Space by Ben Tanzer

It's Father's Day! To celebrate, we bring you the second installment of our two-part spotlight on Chicago fathers writing about parenthood featuring Ben Tanzer's book Lost In Space: A Father's Journey There and Back Again (Curbside Splendor). Tanzer has been giving birth to new books almost annually, with his newest work, New York Stories, being released this month by The Chicago Center for Literature & Photography. Come out for the release reading today, June 19, at City Lit Books 2523 N. Kedzie at 6:30pm (so all you dads can get back home to tuck in their kids).

LostInSpace_cover.jpgLost in Space is a collection of creative nonfiction essays in which Tanzer chronicles his childhood via his own experience raising a family. The chapters are not arranged chronologically, but Tanzer interjects pop culture references that act as sign posts, marking days by the release of Star Wars or the Lion King. The opening lines of the first essay namedrop Patrick Ewing and Caddyshack.

Throughout the book we get a sense of Tanzer as a father who is writing while juggling parenthood, marriage, a job, and his social life. He directly speaks to the reader, sharing his most intimate feelings and letting us in on the minutiae of his day-to-day life. We know he is a runner, a worrier, a loving father, and a dedicated writer. He leaves nothing out, sharing even his personal fears and insecurities, about parenting and writing both. We see this done in the essay Anatomy of a Story, in which Tanzer wrestles with how to write about a surgical procedure undergone by his son. The original intent was to fictionalize the diagnosis into something more visceral for the reader. Yet, ultimately he tells it true to life, demonstrating his authority and authenticity as a writer and a parent.

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John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Reviews Wed Jun 17 2015

Father's Day Review: The Most Greatest Traveling Circus with Rad Dad Jonas

With father's day right around the corner, this is a two-part nod to all those writing dads out there. Friday we'll feature Ben Tanzer's book Lost In Space about fatherhood, but first up, today, is a Chicago self-publisher who goes by the one-word moniker Jonas. In the local self-publishing community he is as prolific as James Paterson with his zine Cheer the Eff Up! In the zine's fifth issue, Jonas features a non-fiction essay about fatherhood, reminiscing about his dad and how their relationship has helped shape him into the dad he has recently become himself. Jonas is also a contributor to California-based Rad Dad magazine's Father's Day Issue (2014).

The topic of fatherhood is also prevalent in Jonas's book
The Greatest Most Traveling Circus
, released last year on Sweet Candy Press. The book is a collection of short stories, thematically related to the book's title. He builds microcosms, calling them acts, which are as serious as they are hilarious. Each act carries a consistent voice and stories are easily read in short bursts, great for one's morning commute or morning constitution, or both.

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John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Bookmarks Fri Jun 12 2015


Friday! Variety show Shame that Tune is at the Hideout Inn.

Saturday! The 54th Chicago Book & Paper Fair will be held at the Chicago Journeyman Plumbers Union Hall.

Saturday! Raw Fury issue #3 release at the Pilsen Outpost.

Saturday! Novelist Dolen Perkins-Valez discusses her work with WBEZ's Natalie Moore at 57th Street Books.

Sunday! Self Publishers of Chicago hosts their monthly reading series at Uncharted Books.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Book Club Fri Jun 05 2015

Plan Your Printers Row Lit Fest Weekend With A Little Help From Us

Printers Row Lit Fest.jpg

Get ready, Book Club, because it's almost time to descend upon Dearborn Street for the Midwest's largest outdoor literary festival. That's right, the Printers Row Lit Fest is merely hours away--and with a lineup featuring over 200 events, there will be something for every book lover.

Now in its 31st year, the Printers Row Lit Fest runs from June 6-7, celebrating all things literary with an unparalleled book fair and schedule of performances. Show up with a tote or two (or three) to stock up on summer reading material, or purchase tickets to panels on fiction writing, papal ponderings, or humorous fashion blogging.

If you want to be more hands-on, there will be workshops galore. Check out Jill Pollack's (director of StoryStudio Chicago) Prompt-A-Palooza, Wilda Morris' "On a Line by: Writing Poetry Inspired by Other Poems," or 826CHI's "Behind the Book: Around That Age, I Liked to Play with Fire."

If you're hungering for a more savory experience, there are several events that blend culinary and literary inspiration, including cooking demonstrations by Rick Bayless and Mexique's Carlos Gaytan, as well as wine pairing tips from journos.

For the more raucous among us, Lit After Dark will return on Saturday with Bob Saget discussing his memoir at Jones College Prep. There will also be a special Lit Fest installment of monthly storytelling series, This Much Is True, and a C2E2 Drink & Draw event where you can mingle with local comic book artists.

Here's just a taste of the panels and discussion that will take place this year. Please note that there are multiple venues and tents. But if you feel your FOMO coming on, relax--Printers Row Lit Fest and Tribbooks have ways to keep you organized, from sorting through events by stage and time online, to offering an app that will make sure you don't miss out on a single word. Well, you can try not to.

Printers Row Lit Fest kicks off at 10am on Saturday, June 6 and runs through 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 7. Festival passes (which include a digital membership to Printers Row Journal) have sold out, but you can still purchase individual tickets.

Saturday suggestions:

Curbside Splendor author Cyn Vargas is part of the First Fiction panel at 10 a.m. at Jones College Prep, Room 5006.

Levar Burton will be presented with the Chicago Tribune Young Adult Literary Award at 12 p.m. at Jones College Prep.

Have "lunch" with Tavis Smiley at the Harold Washington Library's Pritzker Auditorium at 12:30 p.m.

At 3 p.m., join WRITE CLUB Overlord Ian Belknap and co-producer Lindsay Muscato for some bare-knuckled lit.

The Hoy tent hosts their editors Beatriz Rivas and Gisela Orozco for a conversation on women in literature at 3:30 p.m.

Sunday suggestions:

Early birds: have coffee at 10 a.m. with John Kass, William Lee, and Trevor Jensen at the Good Eating Stage.

The RedEye tent will hold a Writers Challenge panel at 11 a.m. with host Mason Johnson; hilarity may or may not ensue.

At 12 p.m., check out Cassandra, a "comedy collective that seamlessly weaves outrageous characters, storytelling, live lit, and music into one hilarious live show," at the RedEye Tent as well.

Tribune Books Editor Jennifer Day chats with local authors Rebecca Makkai and Vendela Vida at the Harold Washington Library Center at 2 p.m.

At 2:15 p.m., Alison Cuddy talks with music journalist Jessica Hopper about her new book, "The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic."

Head to Jones College Prep at 4 p.m. to hear James McGrath Morris discuss his biography of Ethel Payne, "The First Lady of the Black Press."

Danette Chavez / Comments (0)

Bookmarks Fri Jun 05 2015


All Weekend! Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) celebrates independent comics at their 4th annual fest with an exhibition, workshops, readings and book signings (various locations).

Friday! The Point magazine issue 10 release party at Experimental Station in Hyde Park.

Saturday and Sunday! Printers Row Lit Fest is back downtown in historic Printers Row with book vendors, signings, discussions, kids activities and more.

Saturday! A packed lineup, including comedian Nick Offerman, read at Paper Machete at the Green Mill.

Saturday! Author Jerry Sacher releases his newest book Fair In Love with a signing at Stella's Diner in Lakeview.

Saturday! Pleiades Magazine launch and readings at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square.

Sunday! Here, Chicago reading series is back at the Wit Theater.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Events Thu Jun 04 2015

Overindulge on CAKE all Weekend Long

CAKE.jpgThe fourth annual Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, affectionately known as CAKE, will take place this weekend Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7, at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N Halsted Ave. from 11am-6pm daily (free and open to the public). CAKE gives a forum for independent artists, cartoonists, comic book makers, zines writers and more. Throughout the weekend celebrate the graphic form with an overload of events, artists, programs, and parties. To get set, here are 8 things that make this festival one of the largest independent comics shows in the nation. Their organization is a testament to what hard work and the love of one's craft can do to support a community.

Exhibitors and Guests
Both Saturday and Sunday upwards of 100 tables will be full of comics artists, illustrators, and cartoonists coming from Chicago, across the country and internationally. There will be kid friendly comcis on tables marked by balloons. Comics that are goofy, humorous, twisted, eye catching, slick, realistic and weird will all be present in some form or another.

CAKE's 2015 Artwork
All the 2015 artwork has been designed by Chicago's own Ivan Burnetti. There's not a better way to have work from one of the most acclaimed cartoonists' while supporting an independent literary festival then to nab a CAKE silk screened poster or t-shirt.

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John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

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



Wed Jul 29 2015
2nd Story @ Mayne Stage

Wed Jul 29 2015
Miss Spoken @ Gallery Cabaret

Thu Jul 30 2015
The Stoop @ Rosa's Lounge

Sat Aug 1 2015
Caseen Gaines @ Quimby's

Sun Aug 2 2015
Here, Chicago @ Theater Wit

Tue Aug 4 2015
Tuesday Funk @ Hopleaf

About GB Book Club

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

Editor: Andrew Huff,
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