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Book Club

Bookmarks Fri Oct 31 2014


Happy Halloweekend from Book Club! Celebrate with any of this spooky fare:

Tonight! Scott Kenemore reads from his horror novel The Grand Hotel at City Lit Books, 6:30 pm.

Saturday! Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone, will present his newest novel Harold Washington Library's Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 1:30 pm.

Sunday! From 11 am to 5 pm, The Green Mill hosts "Top Hats & tales," a fundraiser for Story Club Magazine. The event features work from some of the city's best: Megan Stielstra, Lily Be, Don Hall, Samantha Irby, Kelsie Huff, and Jennifer Peepas. $30 at the door, $20 in advance. Costume contest and raffle prizes included.

Sunday! Eileen Myles discusses anthology Afterglow at the Poetry Foundation, 2 pm.

Sunday! Don DeGrazia's live lit show "Come Home Chicago" returns to Underground Wonder Bar with an exceptional lineup including Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, the Tribune's Rick Kogan, and Kevin Coval, founder of Louder Than a Bomb, 6 pm.

Miden Wood / Comments (0)

Author Thu Oct 30 2014

Weekend of Woe/"Wow!" at the Chicago Humanities Festival

chf_journeys.jpgWashington University Professor William J. Maxwell dropped a few bombs last weekend at his Chicago Humanities Festival lecture, "FBI as Literary Critic." Abandoning his Powerpoint-style slideshow for a "fuck it...what do you wanna know?" approach, Maxwell's open-endedness miffed some festival subscribers but opened the floodgates for a more expansive dialogue. He began talking of J. Edgar Hoover's interest in authors of the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts movement.

The subject led to unexpected side streets of death threats and latent homosexuality. His opening anecdote involved a white FBI agent named William C. Sullivan, a professorial type and liberal arts graduate, who wrote a letter to Martin Luther King Jr. in an implied black voice. "Like all frauds," Sullivan wrote, "your end is approaching." Gasps rippled through the audience.

The letter ended, "there is but one way out for you, you better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation."

A man in a starched shirt raised his hand. "This sounds something like a death threat!" he exclaimed. Maxwell had assumed that this, and Hoover's 40-year homosexual marriage, were common knowledge.

Continue reading this entry »

Alex Thompson / Comments (0)

Book Club Thu Oct 30 2014

Jamaica Kincaid Discusses Voice, Working at New Yorker

JamaicaKincaid.jpgUnlike a public lecture, critically-acclaimed author Jamaica Kincaid's conversation with CHF Emeritus Artistic Director Lawrence Weschler covered a wide-ranging variety of topics. The conversation, which was held at Northwestern University's Cahn Auditorium, was held on Oct 25 in front of an almost-full theater.

This year's Chicago Humanities Festival revolved around the theme of "Journeys," and Kincaid's discussion reflected on her own. Born in Antigua, Kincaid moved to New York at the age of 17 to become an au paire. After working her way through college, Kincaid became a staff writer at The New Yorker. Today, Kincaid is a professor at Harvard.

Much of the hour-long discussion was spent on Kincaid's childhood in Antigua and her days at The New Yorker. She had many humorous things to say about her relationship with her mother, her early years in New York, and her experience working with George Trow, who helped Kincaid secure a job at The New Yorker. According to Kincaid, Trow hired her because he "doesn't hire reporters, [he] hires voices."

Continue reading this entry »

Jack McCormick / Comments (0)

Book Club Thu Oct 30 2014

Bored? Here's a Novel Idea...

In case you've decided to call it quits on the drinking for a while after having too many jägerbombs on Halloween, here's something to do rather than stare out the window and watch the leaves die. It's called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and it's an online and local community that supports writers as they attempt to write a 50,000 word rough draft of a novel by the end of November.

Each week in November, there are going to be weekly write-in events at libraries, cafes, and book stores throughout Chicago, where fellow NaNoWriMo participants meet up to work and discuss their novels. In addition to this, there are inspirational lectures and a final celebration at the end of the month. To get involved, visit and sign up.

Jack McCormick / Comments (0)

Book Club Wed Oct 29 2014

Writers, on Your Mark...

Screen shot 2014-10-28 at 10.00.54 PM.pngChicago Reader is now accepting submissions for its 2015 Pure Fiction issue, which will be published January. Local writers of all backgrounds can submit as many entrees as they want so long as they're anywhere up to 3,000 words. Winners of the contest will be paid for their work.

Not sure what to write? Check out the archive of previous Pure Fiction issues for some inspiration. The collection boasts a number of stories from writers such as Ben Greenman and Jonathan Messinger (former Time Out Chicago editor).

Submissions for the 15th Pure Fiction issue must be turned in by Nov. 15 to Good luck!

Jack McCormick / Comments (0)

Book Club Fri Oct 24 2014


All Weekend! The Chicago Humanities Festival is bursting with mind-boggling events.

Tonight! The Book Cellar hosts David Bell in reading from his latest novel, The Forgotten Girl, 7 pm.

Tonight! Creators of the rich genre of sci fi romance present their works at Quimby's Bookstore, 7 pm.

Saturday! The Tamale Hut reading Series gets spooky with a special Halloween live lit show, 7 pm.

Sunday! Whistler hosts release party for Tad Atcox's latest novel, Does Not Love, 6:30 pm.

Miden Wood / Comments (0)

Author Thu Oct 23 2014

Take A Journey With Eula Biss

The Chicago Humanities Festival begins celebrating its 25th anniversary on Saturday, October 25th. This year's theme, "Journeys," has been in the works for a while, so get ready to visit various nooks of the city for a few (dozen) of the 80 events, which will be concentrated at cultural institutions in the downtown area, but will also branch out to Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

We recommend starting with a jaunt to Evanston for a panel with renowned essayist, Eula Biss. Biss is the author of the award-winning Notes from No Man's Land, a collection of essays exploring race and racial identity that Biss compiled while traveling across the country. Her latest work, On Immunity: An Inoculation, spans less geography, but tackles no less controversy; prompted by the anxiety of new motherhood, Biss takes a harrowing look at the science and history of immunizations. The author will be joined by Katie Watson, a professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern.

The panel will run from 2:30pm-3:30pm on Saturday at the Owen L. Coon Forum inside of the Donald P. Jacobs Center at 2001 Sheridan Rd, Evanston. Tickets will be available at the door (cash only), and are $5 for students/teachers, $9 for CHF members, and $12 for the general public. For more information, call the box office at 312-494-9509.

Danette Chavez / Comments (0)

Events Wed Oct 22 2014

Book Club @ The Chicago Humanities Festival

The Chicago Humanities Festival begins full-swing this weekend, and four BC staff writers are first in line. Check out where we're headed this Saturday, Oct. 25, and why you should tag along!

jamaica_kincaid.pngJack @ Jamaica Kincaid (11:00 am)
In college, I accidentally signed up for a literature class entitled "Caribbean Literature." Thinking it'd be sort of a blow off course, I quickly found out I was dead wrong. The lit that we read, although there was an overwhelming amount of it, was incredibly enjoyable and included writers such as Sam Selvon, Edwidge Dantecat and Nobel Prize-winner V.S. Naipaul.

Of all the books we read during that semester, there's one that stands out above all else: Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid. I read the text front to back in one sitting, which was admittedly no real feat, the novella being somewhere around 100 pages. However, it was my favorite out of all the quality books that we read.

Much of Kincaid's work reflects on the disorienting experience of moving from one place to another, a perfect companion for many a Chicagoan. A widely-acclaimed writer for her fiction, nonfiction, and work as a staff writer at The New Yorker, Kincaid has done it all and won many prizes in the process. Check out her talk with CHF Emeritus Artistic Director, Lawrence Weschler, on Oct. 25, 11am-12pm at Cahn Auditorium. Tickets are $15 for CHF Members and $20 for the general public.

eula_biss_where_we_are_from.pngDannette @ Eula Bliss (2:30 pm)
Biss is the author of the award-winning Notes from No Man's Land, a collection of essays exploring race and racial identity that Biss compiled while traveling across the country. Her latest work, On Immunity: An Inoculation, spans less geography, but tackles no less controversy; prompted by the anxiety of new motherhood, Biss takes a harrowing look at the science and history of immunizations. The author will be joined by Katie Watson, a professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern.

wallace_shawn.pngAlex @ Wallace Shawn (5:00 pm)
Whether your memories of Wallace Shawn are at dinner with Andre Gregory, shouting "inconceivable!" into the ironic abyss of The Princess Bride or starring in Jonathan Demme's newest film, The Master Builder (an adaptation by Shawn of Ibsen's play), it is certain that this Saturday's Chicago Humanities Festival event would be silly to miss.

The iconic actor and playwright has been featured in nearly 100 films (including 7 in 1995 alone). He was awarded the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award in 2005 as a Master American Dramatist.

still_failing_gary_shteyngart_returns.pngMiden @ Gary Shteyngart (7:30 pm)
Even if one hasn't heard of Gary Shteyngart, bookstore loiterers would doubtless recognize the polka-dotted jacket of his bestselling novel Super Sad True Love Story. When I first started reading Love Story, I underlined every phrase that made me laugh out loud. Now, my copy is so dense with stripes one could feasibly call it nautical.

Of course I can't help but wonder about the author of a book that so strikes me with its wit. Now I need not wonder at all: Shteyngart's memoir, Little Failure employs both wit and heart in detailing his childhood; from the transition from Soviet Russia to America, to his extreme childhood asthma, to the climactic unveiling of his first unreleased work -- a 100-page novel about Lenin and a magical goose that he wrote for his grandmother in exchange for slices of cheese.

Miden Wood / Comments (0)

News Tue Oct 21 2014

Clarence Page in Discussion @ The Union League Club

Screen shot 2014-10-21 at 3.15.44 PM.pngThis Wednesday, Oct. 22, Printers Row presents a luncheon at The Union League Club (65 W. Jackson Blvd.) in honor of Pulitzer Prize-winner and nationally renowned columnist Clarence Page, wherein he will discuss his new anthology of work, Culture Worrier, Selected Columns 1984 - 2014, Reflections on Race, Politics and Social Change.

In the 30 years since his first column in The Chicago Tribune, Page has witnessed a multitude of American milestones; his commentary on which has rightfully earned Page a revered place in the journalistic community. The anthology traverses decades and topics alike, as his interests, though always built around a core of cultural analysis, are truly varied. (Perusing his latest posts on Page's Page you'll find articles regarding President Obama's second term, the food gentrification of collard greens, and the American response to the ebola virus, to name a few.)

Page will be joined in discussion by Bruce Dold, editorial page editor of the Chicago Tribune. The event kicks off with a reception at 11:30am, with the discussion set to begin at noon. Admission is $35, and copies of Culture Worrier will be available for sale at the event.

Miden Wood / Comments (0)

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.

Continue reading this entry »

Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Events Wed Oct 15 2014

To-Do This Month: Chicago Humanities Festival 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-15 at 2.37.12 PM.png
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)

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



Sun Nov 2 2014
Top Hats & Tales @ Green Mill

Tue Nov 4 2014
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...

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