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Feature Fri Jun 10 2011

Quickies: The Final Whistle Blows

This is a guest post from John Wawrzaszek, a contributor to Newcity, publisher of the zine the Muse, the News, and the Noose, and Fiction Writing student at Columbia College. This feature is based on his interviews with Mary Hamilton and Lindsay Hunter.

Quickies will have its final run on June 14th at Innertown Pub, 1935 W Thomas, at 7:30pm.

For a reading series notable for its short time limit, Quickies has
been anything but. Two friends, Mary Hamilton and Lindsay Hunter, met
in grad school at the School of the Art Institute's writing program. They began the reading series in March of 2008. "It was kind of a wordless psychic communication," Hamilton puts it. Though that communication might live on, the series is set to sound its final whistle as co-founder Hamilton prepares to move to Los Angeles.

Quickies prides itself on its name, allotting readers only four minutes to spit out their material. This leaves for a wide variety of almost anything, sort of: "We have three rules," explains Hamilton, "No poetry, no excerpts, and no cheating."

The fun ensues when a reader goes over time. The audience listens to the story with anticipation, silently wishing for the time to lapse. Standing in front of the pool table at the Innertown Pub, the home of Quickies, Hunter vigilantly holds the stopwatch. Hamilton is poised with a whistle, ready to jolt the packed bar once the readout passes
four minutes. "Mary is cutthroat with the whistle," says Hunter. "Anytime I want to mealy mouth about it she's like, 'Nope get off the stage.'"

A seemingly inseparable duo on stage, the pair came to this decision together. "I can't imagine doing it without her," says Hunter. "We are the yin to each other's yang." For the series' finale (happening June 14th), the lineup is a who's who of Chicago writers, most who have supported the series for years. The bill is packed, the eulogy to be performed by over 20 readers.

Quickies' end leaves the literary scene out on a mainstay series, one that offers a unique event in a rapid-fire format. But the hosts, besides missing each other's company as hair trigger whistleblowing emcees, there's something more to be missed. "The groupies," says Hamilton. "Mary's groupies," jests Hunter.

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