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Friday, May 29

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Book Club

Bookmarks Fri May 29 2015


FRIDAY! Chicago music journalist Jessica Hopper reads from her new book The First Collection of Criticism By a Living Female Rock Critic (Featherproof books) at Quimby's bookstore.

FRIDAY! Book Launch for author Re'Lynn Hansen's memoir To Some Woman I have Known at Women and Children First.

FRIDAY! Author Nathan Poole, in conversation with author Patricia Grace King, will be reading from his debut story collection Father Brother Keeper at City Lit Books.

SATURDAY! Live lit series Story Sessions hosts a brunch reading at City Winery.

SATURDAY! Reading series the Paper Machete holds down its weekly slot at the Green Mill.

SUNDAY! 2nd Story presents the live showInto the Light: Stories of Secrets and Searching at The Promontory.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Education Wed May 27 2015

Chicago Schools Make Moves to Include Women, Minorities on Required Reading Lists

The MashBy Samantha English & Barbara Cruz

When you think of the books that are read and taught in high schools across the country, what are the first titles that come to mind? The Great Gatsby, Lord of the Flies, The Catcher in the Rye and Of Mice and Men probably flood your memory. The authors of these books — F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Golding, J.D. Salinger and John Steinbeck, respectively — have something in common: They're all white men.

The truth is, many assigned reading lists are short on female and minority authors. But some schools are making strides to change that. Because the literary canon taught in today's schools is often the groundwork for post-secondary education, critics believe a predominately white male perspective could have negative effects on students.

Some argue that teaching the canon to students who no longer find relevance in the issues presented will fail to stimulate teens and ultimately turn them away from reading.

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Bookmarks Fri May 22 2015


Friday! Author Kimbeth Wehrli Judge reads from her book The Flipside at Woman and Children First.

Friday! Author Mark Z Danielewski reads at the Book Cellar.

Saturday! A discussion with Bill Ayers about his newest book at 57th St. Books in Hyde Park.

Saturday! Professors Rosalyn LaPier and David Beck read from their book City Indian: Native American Activism in Chicago, 1893-1934 at the American Indian Center.

Saturday! Noelle Stevenson reads and signs her newest graphic novel at Challengers Comics and Conversations.

Monday! Have a great Memorial Day.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Stores Mon May 18 2015

New Chapters for Old Bookstores

By Tim Rolph

"Robert Plant's band was just in here, hung out and played records for about an hour." Ric Addy, owner of Uptown's Shake Rattle & Read bookstore, pulls out his phone to show me a picture. "That's Florence from Florence and the Machine. She gave me some tickets, and on stage was talking about 'the quaint little bookstore across the street.'"

A block from both the Riviera and Aragon Ballroom, Shake Rattle & Read is a regular stop for bands on tour, the bassists and drummers mingling with unsuspecting fans a few hours before shows, loading up on ways to keep busy on the bus. "When Oprah'd have supermodels on her show, she would come in here and buy their old magazine covers." If the shop, decked out in concert posters, old vinyl, and lit paraphernalia, looks like the store from the movie High Fidelity, it's probably because the film sourced a lot of the set from here.

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Bookmarks Fri May 15 2015


All Weekend! The Evanston Literary Festival, sponsored by the Chicago Book Expo and Northwestern University, continues its inaugural week with a variety of programming at various locations.

Saturday! Red Rover reading series hosts its 85th installment at Outer Space Studio in Wicker Park.

Saturday! Tamale Hut Cafe reading series is back in Riverside at its namesake, the Tamale Hut Café.

Saturday! Mortified Chicago gets hilariously personal at the Mayne Stage in Rogers Park.

Sunday! Guild Literary Complex hosts Wink and Whisper as their annual benefit fundraiser at Underground Uptown.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Interview Mon May 11 2015

New Yorker Cartoonist Roz Chast Comes to Chicago This Wednesday

cantwetalk.jpgIt takes great skill and dedication to be recognized as one of the top names in any field. For cartoonists, Roz Chast is one such person. Chast is an award winning cartoonist and author of her own books, as well a staff cartoonist for The New Yorker. Chast's most recent book is her memoir titled Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

I got to talk with Chast via email about her memoir and her work as a cartoonist. Chast will be in Chicago on Wednesday, May 13 as keynote speaker of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis Annual Benefit, at the Standard Club, 320 S. Plymouth Ct.

In your work Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? you deal with the subject of aging and loss. What made you choose this subject matter as the focus for your graphic memoir?

It seemed like a very rich and emotionally engaging subject, one that I hadn't known much about until I was more or less forced to deal with it. Also, my parents were unusual people. I felt it would be interesting to draw and write about our relationships with one another.

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John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Bookmarks Fri May 08 2015


Friday and Saturday! Chicago Zine Fest celebrates its sixth annual festival of self-publishing this weekend (various locations).

Friday! Author Matt Kepnes reading and discussion of his book How to Travel the World on $50 a Day at City Lit Books.

Friday! Naked Girls Reading series Chicago Confidential show at Studio L'amour.

Saturday! Chicago Young Adult Book Fest, discussion with authors of Young Adult books at the Book Cellar.

Saturday! Poetry Off the Shelf celebrates with a Middle East Poetry Festival at Poetry Foundation.

Saturday! Poets Rachel Eliza Griffiths and Daniela Olszewska read at Myopic Books.

Saturday! Live lit series You're Being Ridiculous is at the Mayne Stage in Rogers Park.

Sunday! Post Zine Fest reading with out-of-town zine creators at Chicago Publishers Resource Center.

Sunday! Its Mother's Day so go do something with yer ma.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Events Wed May 06 2015

Chicago Zine Fest Showcases Self-publishing Efforts This Weekend

CZF 2015 Logo.jpg
Chicago Zine Fest holds its sixth annual celebration of self-publishing this weekend, May 8 and 9. The weekend's programing is a mix of exhibition, live performances, workshops, and discussions all organized by a dedicated all-volunteer staff. Things kick off Friday at 5pm at Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave., with a night full of events.

A panel discussion, Zines: A Future Craft, will focus on the history and future of zine creation in our culture. Moderated by Barnard College Librarian Jenna Freedman and sponsored by The University of Chicago Library, the panel will include invited guests and zine creators Jonas, Julia Eff, and Ocean Capewell. Following the panel will be a reading Zines: The Next Generation featuring students from Chicago Public Schools, Convergence Academy, and 826CHI among others. Closing out the night will be readings and performances from festival exhibitors.

On Saturday, May 9 the festival proper starts at 11am at Plumbers' Union Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd. Tables set up exhibition style will be full of zines, comics, chapbooks, and magazines from over 250 self-publishers from Chicago and around the country. Workshops on radical poetry, resisting assimilation, youth performance, hands-on drawing, and more will be presented by the Busy Beaver Button Company, the International School of Comics, and representatives from the Poetry Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The festival has become an institution in Chicago's independent literary and art community. To keep things fresh, this year organizers shifted annual scheduling date from March to May and moved programming to new venues. I spoke with Julie Koslowsky, CZF coordinator of youth readings and day-of programming, to explore some of changes and how they were embraced by the community.

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John Wawrzaszek / Comments (1)

Events Tue May 05 2015

Help Open Books Move by Clearing the Shelves

openbooks literacenterOpen Books is moving its original store from 213 W. Institute Pl. in River North to 651 W. Lake St. in the West Loop next week, and to help make the move easier, they're holding a sale May 5-10. The deal gets better each day, with discounts rising to 60 percent off by Sunday, May 10, the store's last day open.

Open Books' new location will open May 26 in the new Literacenter, the first-in-the-nation shared nonprofit workspace exclusively for literacy organizations. Developed by the Chicago Literary Alliance, the space, which opened May 4, will host more than two dozen organizations and provide work space, meeting facilities, classrooms, social/event space and office support. A grand opening event is planned for June 10.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Events Mon May 04 2015

Words and Music Assault Your Senses this Wednesday

Local publishing juggernaut Curbside Splendor is back this Wednesday, May, 6 for their trademark event Words + Music at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, at 8pm.

The Words portion of the night is a perfect fit for the event as all readers are music-based writers. Curbside author Tony Fitzpatrick is joined by the Reader's Gossip Wolf columnist JR Nelson, Featherproof Books and Pitchfork contributor Jessica Hopper, and Chicago music guru Jim DeRogatis.

The music portion of the night was booked by local label Dumpster Tapes. Bands include the label's act Sun of a Gun as well as locals Slushy and Cutworms.

The event is free if you RSVP or $8 at the door. Books will be for sale at the event.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Bookmarks Fri May 01 2015


Tonight! First Friday gallery reception for The Chicago 77 exhibition at Poetry Foundation.

Tonight! A Celebration of Asian American Writers in Chicago at Open Books with readers Nami Mun, Vu Tran, and Wallin Wong.

Tonight! Montreal artist Walter Scott reads from his comics collection Wendy at Editions Kavi Gupta.

Saturday! Chicago Independent Bookstore Day hits stores across Chicago from Andersonville to Hyde Park with events, readings and more.

Saturday! Free Comic Book Day strikes again, with events, signings and free selected comics at participating Chicagoland comic book retailers.

Sunday! Storytelling series Here, Chicago is back at Stage 773.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Events Wed Apr 29 2015

May 2 is a Big Day for Book Lovers

may-2-2015.jpgThis Saturday, May 2, might be overwhelming to some bookworms. That's because there are two big, day-spanning events that you won't want to miss.

First, Chicago Independent Bookstore Day takes a page from Record Store Day and rounds up special events at a dozen indie bookstores around the city. There will be author readings, free food, raffles and giveaways, discounts on purchases and more. In addition, each store will have pages from a limited edition short story by Stuart Dybek and illustrated by Dmitry Samarov -- visit each shop to collect the whole thing.

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Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Events Tue Apr 21 2015

Big Venerable's Big Day, Matt Rowan Book Release at City Lit

Tomorrow, Wednesday April 22, join local writer Matt Rowan for the release of his newest novel, Big Venerable at City Lit Books, 2523 N. Kedzie Blvd. at 6:30pm.

The novel comes out from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, a local press that makes limited run hand-bound books. Big Venerable is a collected work of short fiction that weaves through the lives of different characters from a fast food worker to a TV show contestant. The stories lean toward the dark and warped with a touch of humor.

Other readers supporting Rowan include local writers Ben Tanzer, Joseph G. Peterson, and Halle Butler.

Books will be on sale at the event. You can even ask for a signature if you stick around and chat with the author. The event is free and open to the public.

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Events Tue Apr 14 2015

This Weekend, Reading Series Red Rover Celebrates 10 Years!

The reading series Red Rover, founded in 2005, celebrates its 10 year anniversary with a reading on Saturday, April 18 at Outer Space Studio, 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave.

This is the series' 84th installment, curated by Laura Goldstein and Jennifer Karmin. Each event has been designed as a reading experiment. For this occasion, readers were asked to defend any issue or topic with their own writing. Exploring this idea will be local writers Cean Gamalinda, Marcy Rae Henry, Nathan Hoks, Daniela Olszewska and Anne K. Yoder.

There is a $4 suggested donation at the door. The doors open at 7pm and lock at 7:30pm. Make sure to get there on the dot!

John Wawrzaszek / Comments (0)

Poetry Mon Apr 06 2015

Poets for Chuy: Creative Work + Creative Action

By Jacob Saenz, Jennifer Karmin, Matthias Regan, Toby Altman, Cean Gamalinda, Barbara Barg & Toni Asante Lightfoot

On March 13, 2015, Poets for Chuy brought together writers from across Chicago's neighborhoods and aesthetics to support Jesús 'Chuy' Garcia's progressive campaign for mayor of Chicago. Chuy himself even stopped by, speaking at length about his love for James Brown, the political audacity that has driven his career, and the poems his mother wrote when he was a child. Co-organized by the curators of the Red Rover Series and the Absinthe & Zygote Series, the event took place at the art activist space Center Portion in the Logan Square neighborhood. The featured poets were: Barbara Barg, Sheila Donohue, Laura Goldstein, Jennifer Karmin, Toni Asante Lightfoot, Matthias Regan, Jacob Saenz, Erika L. Sánchez and Keli Stewart. Focusing on the connections between poetry, activism and civic engagement, Toby Altman was the evening's emcee.

poets for chuy

In the sincere hope that poetry can transform our common worlds, we present here a portfolio of responses to the Poets for Chuy reading — by performers, curators, and event volunteers.

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



Fri May 29 2015
Jessica Hopper Reading @ Quimby's

Sat May 30 2015
Story Sessions Brunch @ City Winery

Sun May 31 2015
The Lives of Robert Ryan @ Music Box

Tue Jun 2 2015
Tuesday Funk @ Hopleaf

Tue Jun 2 2015
Scott Rowan @ Harold Washington Library

Wed Jun 3 2015
Oral @ the Annoyance

Wed Jun 3 2015
Kenan Heise @ Harold Washington Library

Wed Jun 3 2015
Margaret McMullan @ Harold Washington Library

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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