As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Friday, January 19

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


Book Club

Education Fri Dec 11 2015

Chicago to Welcome American Writers Museum

AWM_American-Identity.jpg

Readers, writers, English teachers, history buffs, and museum lovers rejoice! Chicago is set to welcome a new museum to the line-up of superb museums gracing our city.

The American Writers Museum (AWM) will open early spring 2017 at 180 N. Michigan Ave. as the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to the personal stories and literary works of American writers past and present. The museum promises themed galleries, educational programs, interactive exhibits, and special events to encourage participation from visitors of all ages.

Continue reading this entry »

Brianna Kratz

News Thu Aug 13 2015

Hot for Teacher

The Chicago Teachers Union is calling on a publisher to recall all copies of The Teacher's Strike, an erotica novel about an of-age student hooking up with his teacher during the teachers' strikes in Chicago.

Continue reading this entry »

Mike Ewing

Author Fri Feb 06 2015

Zine Fest Returns!

Screen shot 2015-02-06 at 2.06.12 PM.pngZine Fest has announced today that they will be returning in 2015 with a few tweaks, more space, and many more artists and authors. This year's festival for self-publishers will take place on Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9 in Plumbers Union Hall just off the Ashland/Lake Pink and Green Line stop. The hall, a new choice for the Fest, will be able to hold over 200 exhibitors, meaning this year's will be the biggest Zine Fest to date.

Years past the Fest has topped off its wealth of exhibitors with readings, panels and classes, and this year is no different. Though specifics are forthcoming, expect plenty of workshops on the DIY of self-publishing, and panels featuring the industry's greats.

Want to exhibit? Submissions for Zine Fest 2015 open on February 22 at noon sharp (central time). Either way, make your way to 1340 W Washington Blvd. on May 8 and 9 for the best self-publishing the scene has to offer!

Miden Wood

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

News Thu Jun 05 2014

Keep on Bookin', Newcity's Lit 50 Hits the Press

Just in time for Printer's Row Lit Fest this weekend, Chicago publication Newcity released their Lit 50 today, a list of Chicago's literary community letting us know "who really books" around here.

The list includes many authors who released books in the last year: Samantha Irby, Eric May, and Megan Stielstra. Joining are notable natives that are synonymous with being Chicago writers such as Stuart Dybek (he is #1 on the list), Gillian Flynn (she's #2) and Aleksandar Hemon (#8).

This year the list includes members of our growing comics community, a group that diligently puts out work that shouldn't be ignored. Those included are Ivan Brunetti, Jeffery Brown and Hillary Chute.

Newcity's Lit section does a great job compiling this list. To see who else books, pick up an issue in any of the Newcity newspaper boxes across the city. The Lit 50 section opens to a picture which captures all 50 nominees in a group shot. Now that would be some reading to attend.

John Wawrzaszek

Poetry Tue Jan 21 2014

Now Shia LaBeouf is Plagiarizing Kenneth Goldsmith (UPDATED)

Over the past month, Shia LaBeouf has taken plagiarism (and public infamy) to new heights.

Since the 2012 short film he directed, Howard Cantour.com, was revealed to be a rip off of a comic called Justin M. Damiano by Chicago-born graphic novelist Daniel Clowes, LaBeouf has tweeted numerous apologies and justifications, quoting everyone from Yahoo! commenters to Kanye West, Eliot Spitzer and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford -- all without attribution.

In addition, LaBeouf has mockingly re-posted a cease and desist letter from Clowes' attorneys after he tweeted a purported storyboard based on another Clowes work, publicly feuded with Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, hired a plane to write "I AM SORRY DANIEL CLOWES" above the L.A. sky, and declared himself a performance artist...just days after declaring he would be retiring from public life and headbutting a man in a London pub.

i_am_sorry_daniel_clowes.jpg
Yesterday, The New Inquiry posted an essay with LaBeouf's byline called #stopcreating, exploring the recent history of artistic re-appropriation and the merits of long-held notions of authorship and originality in the digital age.

The prose and reference points may seem impressive for a man better known for Transformers and the Disney Channel. But if you look closer, #stopcreating is perhaps LaBeouf's boldest act of defiant plagiarism to date.

The sources? The words of poet and literary critic Kenneth Goldsmith -- including some that may have originally appeared on the website of Chicago's very own Poetry Foundation.

Continue reading this entry »

Jason Prechtel / Comments (3)

Reviews Sun Nov 24 2013

A Thriller in Black, White and Green from E.C. Diskin

Abby Donovan, protagonist of first-time novelist E.C. Diskin's The Green Line, is a youngish, rather naïve white lawyer transplanted to Chicago from Georgia. She is so overworked and easily confused that when she tries to take the train home one evening she accidentally gets on the Green Line instead of the Brown Line that would whisk her to her Wrigleyville townhouse, and promptly falls asleep.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Kindle-5cover050813.jpgWithin minutes of waking and disembarking at the Cicero stop in a panic, she encounters a diverse assortment of black people. They include:

  • An old woman ranting about how she would like to shoot all white people


  • Two leering "thugs" in "tattoos, gold chains, and baggy clothes" who immediately start to menace her


  • A crowd of 10 young black men, also wearing the telltale gold chains and baggy clothes, who also begin pursuing her at once


  • A couple of drunks


  • A drug-addicted prostitute, soon to be murdered

Add in some pregnant teenage welfare queens, and the ultimate nightmare fantasia of the white urbanophobe would be complete.

Continue reading this entry »

Daphne Sidor

Chicago Public Library Sun Sep 15 2013

Calling All Lady Leaders: Women in Politics Panel @ Harold Washington Library Center

Politician and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once said, “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.”

Fictional Parks and Recreation politician Leslie Knope once said, “Maybe it’s time for more women to be in charge.” And then probably said something about waffles.

While perhaps the real-world influence of these two women is disparate (one a fictional* television character, the other a diplomat who has traveled to and managed relations in over 112 countries), the messages of both ring true. As of 2011, only 18.3% of the seats in Congress were held by women; a percentage whose growth has slowed significantly over the last decade. Considering that women constitute more than half the U.S. population, it’s past time that we achieved proportionate representation.

Looking to be a part of the change?

Continue reading this entry »

Miden Wood

Author Thu Sep 05 2013

Bitches Gotta Laugh: A Discussion of Meaty by Samantha Irby

meaty.jpgSamantha Irby's much anticipated collection of essays, Meaty, is out today. If you're not sure whether or not to purchase it, read contributor Alba Machado's and my discussion below! (Hint: Buy it.)

Mikaela: As somebody who had never read Samantha Irby's blog, Bitches Gotta Eat, I didn't know what I was in for, though I quickly found out. I feel that I know Samantha Irby better than I know most of my friends after reading this book, from her bowel movements and sex life to her experiences and hopes. I laughed a LOT and felt a bit emotional during some of the more serious essays. What was reading Meaty like for you, as someone who has read her blog?

Alba: I discovered Samantha Irby a couple of years ago, when she read for the Funny Ha-Ha series at the Hideout. She made me blush in the best way ever. It's a talent she has. It's not just that she talked about peeing on a man's face; it's that she did it in this absolutely candid, intimate check-this-freaky-shit-out kind of way that made her story seem somehow as ordinary as it was outrageous--something casual, something you'd laugh about over coffee. She has the gift that Toni Morrison says is the true test of a writer's power, to "familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar." Since then, I've gobbled up her online work, first the joke advice column that she wrote with Ian Belknap at irbyandian.com, "advice for jerks, written by assholes," then Bitches Gotta Eat. And of course, I was really excited to read Meaty. It did not disappoint. Laughs were had. Numerous times. But the book also veered into unexpectedly tragic terrain, and for that, I would have liked to have read it at a slower pace, given myself time to process and reflect on one chapter before moving onto the next. Meaty seems an appropriate name. You need time to chew on it!

Continue reading this entry »

Mikaela Jorgensen

Book Club Tue Jun 25 2013

The Librarians are Coming! ALA Conference Kicks off Thursday

I love the library. Always have. I love rows and rows of books and the silence, pierced by the occasional beep of a scanned barcode. When Chicago library hours were reduced, I was really, really sad, and still am. Perhaps irrationally, I worry for the future of libraries. That's why it's heartening to know that the American Library Association will bring its annual conference and exhibition to McCormick Place this Thursday, June 27 through Tuesday, July 2.

But let's face it, if you're not already registered, you're probably not going to pop $150 for a one-day pass. It's still pretty awesome to recognize that this conference signals a thriving library industry. This week the Tribune's Christopher Borrelli wrote a nice article on the flourishing reference desk at the Mount Prospect Public Library.

It's also pretty cool to note that Alice Walker (read Donna Seaman's interview), Oliver Stone, Temple Grandin, Giada De Laurentiis and a whole lot more will be in town for the Auditorium Speaker Series-- but even cooler to know that local authors like Chris L. Terry (who I previously interviewed here) and Samantha Irby will be present at "Meet the Author" events.

For more details visit the ALA Conference website at www.ala.org/annual.

Lara Levitan / Comments (5)

News Thu Jun 20 2013

Literary Notables in The Reader's Best of Chicago 2013

BOC2013-teaser.jpg

The Chicago Reader's annual Best of Chicago issue is out now. Look for a copy at newsstands, on magazine racks or in those yellow newspaper boxes with the slanted R on them (it's also available online). Among literary notables, Gapers Block received Best Local Blog (way to go us)!

The Lit scene was represented in the Arts & Culture section with Joe Meno's newest novel Office Girl landing "Best Book for the Disillusioned Artist in All of Us." Other nods include Aleksandar Hemon as "Best Novelist" with Gillian Flynn as a runner up, Samantha Irby as "Best Nonfiction Writer," and Anthony Madrid as "Best Beautiful Young Reader of Poetry." Plus the monthly series Write Club won "Best Literary Event."

View other categories such as Food & Drink, Goods & Services, Sports & Rec, and more for the best Chicago has to offer.

John Wawrzaszek

Events Wed May 22 2013

Volunteers still needed for Printers Row Lit Fest

Wanna rub elbows with YA legend Judy Blume, famed cartoonist Art Spiegelman, celebrity chef Rick Bayless and (no description required) Sting? Volunteer at the Chicago Tribune's annual Printers Row Lit Fest and you may get your chance. Follow this link to the the volunteer application-- it's the first step in getting a behind-the-book-flap experience at the Midwest's largest outdoor literary event, not to mention a free t-shirt and lunch.

The June 8 and 9 event is held at historic Printers Row, on and around the area of Dearborn Street, from Congress to Polk streets. Tickets will be available to the general public beginning May 27. More information about this year's presenters and other FAQs can be found at: printersrowlitfest.org.


Lara Levitan

Events Tue Apr 09 2013

Society of Midland Authors Announces 2012 Winners and Finalists

The Society of Midland Authors announced its winners and finalists last week, marking its 55th celebration of authors who live in, were born in, or have strong ties to the Midwest.

The two winners in the adult fiction category are Nick Dybek (son of Stuart, a two-time winner of the same award) for his novel When Captain Flint Was Still A Good Man, and Jack Driscoll for his short story collection The World of a Few Minutes Ago.

Winners who live in the Chicagoland area include Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg for You Were Never in Chicago in the adult nonfiction category, and Jonathan Messinger, former books editor for TimeOut Chicago, receives the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism.

Click here to see the full list of winners past and present.

Lara Levitan

News Fri Mar 15 2013

CPS Persecuting Persepolis?

Chicago Public Schools Persepolis
Late on Thursday, an email from Lane Tech High School Principal Christopher Dignam was posted on the blog CPS Chatter. It read:

Yesterday afternoon, one of the Network Instructional Support Leaders stopped by my office and informed me (per a directive given during the Chief of Schools meeting on March 11) that all ISLs were directed to physically go to each school in the Network by Friday (3/15) to:
*Confirm that Persepolis is not in the library,
*Confirm that it has not been checked out by a student or teacher,
*Confirm with the school principal that it is not being used in any classrooms,
*And to collect the autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi from all classrooms and the Library.

I was not provided a reason for the collection of Persepolis. If I learn more I will inform all staff.

As teachers and parents began discussing the news, it became clear that the order to remove the graphic novel Persepolis: A Story of Childhood from libraries and classrooms had been sent out to all high schools in the Fullerton region, and possibly the entire Chicago Public School system, apparently under a directive from the Chief Education Office.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff / Comments (4)

Chicago Public Library Thu Mar 14 2013

Citywide Book Club Expands Length and Programming

You always meant to go to one of those One Book, One Chicago discussions, right? Now that the "citywide book club" has expanded from a monthly, twice-a-year offering to a yearlong event, you'll have no excuse not to check out some of the excellent programming offered by the Chicago Public Library sponsored initiative.

The new format kicks off this April with Isabel photo_IsabelWilkerson.jpgWilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. In Other Suns, Wilkerson, the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in the history of American journalism, and the first black American to win for individual reporting, explores the Great Migration of black Americans from the American South to the North and West, changing the cultural and political landscape of America.

According to CPL Commissioner Brian Bannon, the book inspired the expansion of One Book, One Chicago. "The ideas and discussions [the book] sparks are simply too big to be contained in a single month," Bannon stated in a press release. "We look forward to engaging with all Chicagoans to hear their story, to hear how they helped to create the tapestry of our city."

Check out CPL's list of discussions, workshops, performances, and exhibits--many of which focus on migration in Chicago and civil rights-- for details on how you can get involved. (And save the date for October 1, when Wilkerson will speak at the CPL's Cindy Pritzker Auditorium.)

Lara Levitan

Miscellaneous Mon Feb 11 2013

Free Poetry for National Poetry Month

We're sure all of you Book-Club-heads are aware that April is National Poetry Month. And while April may seem light years away while in the thick of February, that's exactly why it's necessary to get psyched for spring--and a free issue of Poetry magazine.

In honor of that poetic month, The Poetry Foundation is releasing free copies of the April 2013 issue of Poetry magazine to individuals, book clubs, and reading groups that request them by March 24. April's is also the first issue to be available in digital format. And to make sure you don't cheat and start celebrating early, the issues will ship in late March to ensure receipt during National Poetry Month.

The April 2013 issue of Poetry includes new poems by Adam Kirsch, Jane Hirshfield, Eavan Boland, Michael Robbins, Randall Mann, Dean Young, Lucie Brock-Broido, and J.T. Barbarese; prose by Christina Pugh; first appearances by Anna Maria Hong, Gwyneth Lewis, Mary Moore Easter, and Jamaal May; and the continuation of the feature "A Few More Don'ts," (commemorating Ezra Pound's famous "A Few Don'ts by an Imagiste") featuring Marjorie Perloff, William Logan, and Sina Queyras.

Lara Levitan

News Mon Jan 28 2013

Poetry Foundation Names New President

Robert Polito cred Gerber + Scarpelli.jpg The Poetry Foundation has named poet, critic and biographer Robert Polito the next president of the organization. His term begins July 8 after current president John Barr steps down to retire.

Polito served as professor and director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Riggio Honors Programs at the The New School, which he compares to the Poetry Foundation in terms of having "distinguished, even glorious pasts that are always in need of reinvention by each new generation."

Polito's poetry, drawing deeply from American pop culture and literary tradition, is collected in two books, Hollywood and God (2009) and Doubles (1995), both published by University of Chicago Press.

Polito's interest in crime novels and film noir inspired his 1995 book Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson (which received the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography), and has served him as editor of several books on poetry, film, and pop culture of the American midcentury.

A Bob Dylan scholar who plans to eventually write a book on the rock icon, Polito professes to collecting the high school yearbooks of folks like Dylan, Andy Warhol, and John Cage, among others.

Read more about Polito here. (Photo credit: Gerber + Scarpelli).

Lara Levitan

News Thu Dec 13 2012

A Relic from the Printing Past Asks for Help

The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum has occupied the Hamilton factory in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, for the past 13 years. But recently the Museum got the boot from its landlord, leaving board members and employees scrambling to find a new home for the 1.5 million-piece wood type collection in the next 60 days.

Unsurprisingly, the niche historical preservation business has not been the source of great wealth, and the Museum is looking raise about $250,000 to fund the move. Columbia College's Center for Book and Paper Arts is holding a fundraiser for the institution this Saturday, December 15, at 1104 S. Wabash Ave. from 12-6pm.

For those interested in a little bit of history, the Museum's website offers a succinct explanation of the factory's founding and Midwestern significance.

Perhaps most strikingly, the factory was a major type supplier for a rapidly growing 19th century Midwestern newspaper industry, offering an alternative to the pricy practice of sourcing from the East Coast. The company has since become a (somewhat less exciting and relevant to our writerly purposes) manufacturer of steel office furniture, but still deserves its credit for helping newspapers do their essential duties in this part of the country.

The museum remains true to the company's original passions and offers up a portion of its 40,000 square feet for artist workshops and tutorials.

Claire Glass

Events Fri Nov 16 2012

A Show for Chicago: Christopher Piatt's The Paper Machete Moves to the Green Mill

Thumbnail image for Green Mill 1.jpgWhen writer/performer Christopher Piatt first conceived of the "live magazine" phenomenon known as The Paper Machete, he envisioned it hosted at the Green Mill, where the nightly jazz, the twinkling green lights, and the ghosts of gangsters past linger in every smoky corner. And beginning Saturday, December 1--after three rigorous years hosting and producing The Paper Machete at various Lincoln Square bars--Piatt's vision is realized as he takes his weekly "salon in a saloon" to the Green Mill with headliner Katie Rich of the Second City mainstage.

"I'm beside myself," said Piatt. "But I have a lot of work ahead of me."

Not that he doesn't already have a lot of work behind him. Piatt's been hosting and producing The Paper Machete, an aptly-described "part spoken-word show, part vaudeville revue" for nearly three years. It's a project he dove into full throttle after leaving his post at TimeOut Chicago, where he worked as a theatre critic and editor for five years. Upon leaving TimeOut, Piatt felt destined to put on a show of his own, but he found himself irrevocably "hard-wired" to the pace of a weekly magazine.

Continue reading this entry »

Lara Levitan / Comments (1)

Books Thu Nov 01 2012

Curbside Splendor to Publish Anthology of Prose & Comics

In December local independent publisher Curbside Splendor will release The Way We Sleep (edited by C. James and Jessa Bye), a collection of stories, comics and interviews centering on sleep and beds. And because they're small and independent, Curbside relies on pre-orders, which can be placed here. The book will cost $20 retail, but pre-orders are $14.99 with free shipping within the U.S.

The 10X10, 240-page glossy will include contributions from authors, graphic artists and comedians like Etgar Keret, Maria Bamford, Billy Lombardo and Michael Showalter.

Says Joe Meno, local author of Office Girl, in the news release, "The Way We Sleep represents the very best of what a book can do that no other narrative medium can touch; it's part anthology, part art-book, part interview, part graphic novel, part confessional, part essay, part sociological study. The subject matter here ranges from sex to family to coming-of-age, all rendered with a delightful wit, brevity, and charm."

Lara Levitan

Books Tue Oct 23 2012

Indie Publisher Announces New E-Book Series

Brooklyn-based Akashic Books--whose tagline is "reverse-gentrification of the literary world"-- announces the next installment of the new Akashic Digits Series: an e-collection of extended excerpts from Chicago's own Joe Meno, author of Office Girl.

You can download the Joe Meno Digit for free and read selections from Meno titles Office Girl, Hairstyles of the Damned, The Boy Detective Fails, Demons in the Spring, and Tender as Hellfire on your Kindles or other major e-readers. And through October 28 you can download each title for the reduced price of $4.99 from Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader Store, or iTunes. Kindle also has Hairstyles for $2.99 until the end of the month.

The Digits Series is Akashic's monthly, themed e-book promotion that features selections from Akashic's titles, with exclusive links to digital and print editions. Other Digits include the Historical Digit, including excerpts from Cervantes Street by Jaime Manrique, and the Jamaican Digit, including excerpts from Kingston Noir edited by Colin Channer.

Lara Levitan

Interview Mon Oct 22 2012

Local Publisher Partners with Tribune to Produce New Ebook Collection

"From what I can tell, our project is the biggest and most ambitious that any newspaper is doing in the United States," said Doug Seibold, president of the Evanston-based publisher Agate.
Schmich_cvr.jpg

Seibold's referring to the recent collaboration between Agate and the Chicago Tribune to release a series of ebooks created from the newspaper's vast archive of news and feature stories, columns and photography. The Chicago Tribune Ebook Collection currently consists of 20 titles, among them The Best of Mary Schmich, a selection of the the Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist's favorite pieces; Charlie Trotter, the story of the world-famous chef's restaurant in Chicago; and The Rise of Rahm, which chronicles the ascent of the first non-Daley Chicago mayor in more than 20 years.

And while other newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post, have taken similar steps to release archived material on ebook, none have come close to the quantity the Tribune/Agate partnership has yielded--according to Seibold, they'll offer a total of 50 titles by January 1 of next year. And (perhaps best of all) they're only $4.99 a piece.

Continue reading this entry »

Lara Levitan / Comments (1)

News Thu Oct 18 2012

A Playwright's Experience and Humanities in Hyde Park

The Chicago Humanities Festival dependably provides a bevy of literary programming with each passing season. It's well curated and timely, often bringing matters literary into the scope of current events. Last Sunday, I attended a conversation between Northwestern University Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies E. Patrick Johnson, and Playwright Matthew Lopez whose show, The Whipping Man, is scheduled to open here in Chicago in January. lopez-whipping.jpeg

The Whipping Man tells the story of a Jewish confederate soldier returning to a ruined home in Richmond, Virginia just after the town was destroyed. His family has fled the scene, and the wreckage of his home is occupied by two newly freed men his family once owned as slaves. The three carry out an unlikely Passover Seder and in doing so, depict the dichotomy at play where Judaism and slavery have intersected in American history.

Lopez described being asked why he, a Latino man without Jewish roots, chose to tackle this particular topic. His answer: "We have a responsibility to tell one another's stories."

The mechanics of the three-character, one set production were noted, but the conversation remained focused on the writing. Lopez talked about his experience going from stage actor to writer, and about his first piece of writing -- an episode of "Mr. Belvedere" when he was 9. Lopez said he's always been more a writer than anything else.

Continue reading this entry »

Claire Glass

News Thu Oct 04 2012

Poetry on State Street

On Monday, the Chicago Loop Alliance unveiled its newest addition to the State Street landscape in synch with Poetry Magazine's Centennial celebration. The thoroughfare is lined with poetry, in both text and audio forms, and can be found on banners, planter signs, news racks and CTA subway entrances from Wacker Drive to Congress Parkway. CLA's year-round light and sound installation, Lightscape: a Multisensory Experience, has switched from tunes to poetry. Poetry on State 5.jpeg

You might hear the words of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens while you wait to cross the street on your lunch hour, Kay Ryan and Robert Hass, or local poets Reginald Gibbons and Li-Young Lee. A small photo gallery is available here.

(Photo Credit to the Silverman Group Gallery)

Claire Glass

News Thu Sep 20 2012

The Business of Writing

by Lara Levitan

StoryStudio Chicago has been in the crucial business of making Chicagoans better writers since 2003. Recently, the Studio added business writing courses, including a ten-week certificate program, to its repertoire.

The Business Writing Certificate program is all about teaching students to improve writing in the context of business--whatever a given student's business might be. Divided into three courses, the Certificate program includes Business Writing Fundamentals (six weeks beginning October 2), Grammar and Punctuation Boot Camp (three weeks beginning November 13), and Enhancing Your Relationship Building Skills (one session on December 13).

cc susan NYC.jpegBusiness Writing Fundamentals is designed for anyone who writes at work, whether it's marketing materials, reports, proposals, newsletters, blog posts, performance evaluations, even Tweets. Unlike standard business writing classes, however, the StoryStudio model uses creative- and journalistic-writing techniques to aid in the process.

The program will help an artist--writer, visual, or otherwise--market his or her own material more effectively. If you're into self publishing chap books, but don't have the skills to market you're stuff, chances are fewer eyes will see your work no matter how good it is.

"The rules are taught in a lighthearted manner," says instructor Leslie Keros, a writer and editor who has worked at the University of Chicago Press and the American Bar Association. "Students receive plenty of hands-on experience, with exercises to help them not only remember the rules, but also learn when it's OK to bend them."

Lots of us freelancers and small business people spend a lot of time in coffee shops and staring at social media platforms to get some modicum of social interaction throughout the day. The Enhancing Your Relationship Building Skills portion of the program is meant to ready students for productive social interaction (networking!) in a one-night session.

The Business Writing Certificate program begins October 2. Register online or by phone at 773-477-7710.

(Photo Credit to Susan NYC via Creative Commons)

Book Club

News Fri Sep 14 2012

Remembering Radical Feminist and SAIC Graduate Shulamith Firestone

Radical FeministShulamith Firestone died on Tuesday, August 28, at home. Although better known for her work after moving to New York City, Firestone's activism began in Chicago.

Firestone graduated from the School of the Art Institue in 1967, and before leaving, co-founded The Westside Group, for "consciousness-raising." Just a few short years later she wrote and published The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution, when she was 25. In the text, Firestone asserted that the biological structure of human life is at the root of sex discrimination, and further, she imagined that newly available reproductive technologies would ultimately free women from these constraints via cybernetics for laboratory births. Extreme as it may sound, the book became an essential feminist text at the time, and considering current political debate concerning women's reproductive rights, the theories she presents have gained a newfound importance.

Firestone wrote and published numerous essays throughout her life, as well as a book of short stories in 1998, Airless Spaces, which depicts characters moving in and out of mental hospitals in New York City. Firestone, who lived in New York City's East Village, suffered from mental illness herself.

Firestone was 67 when she died, and is survived by two sisters.

Claire Glass

News Wed Sep 12 2012

Booklist is Looking for You

At a time when book reviews are bought and sold almost as often as loaves of gluten free bread, it's quite nice to know that a publication like Booklist Magazine still exists.

Booklist, which has been published by the American Library Association for the past 100 years, pumps out short, snappy reviews, often in themed issues, at the rate of about 8,000 a year. And its doing it from right here in Chicago. Booklist deals exclusively in recommendations, opting not to waste reviewers' time, or yours, with the negative and simply covers as much as possible.

If this sounds like your thing, perhaps you should consider interning for Booklist. The publication announced just this week that it's in the market for new team members, and at just 8-12 hours a week, it's likely doable for those with day jobs.

Email editor of Booklist Online, Keir Graff at kgraff@ala.org for more information.

Photo Credit: sleepyneko via Creative Commons

Claire Glass

News Thu Sep 06 2012

Teen Author Judy Blume Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

From her blog: "I have to thank Dr. S, the radiologist who's been doing my mammograms for 20 years. If she hadn't decided I should have a sonogram because of dense breast tissue we still wouldn't know. ...As I've told my friends who've also been treated for breast cancer, I've joined The Club...I'm part of this Sisterhood of the Traveling Breast Cells (apologies to Ann Brashares). Medical diagnoses can leave you feeling alone and scared. When it comes to breast cancer you're not alone, and scary though it is, there's a network of amazing women to help you through it."

Rebecca Hyland

News Thu Aug 30 2012

Chicago Artists Resource Survives the Cultural Plan

All is not lost: Chicago Artist Resource (CAR) lives! Albeit, through a private organization--Chicago's Artist Coalition. Formerly a city funded operation housed in the Cultural Center, CAR furnishes artists form the music, dance, theater, literary and visual Arts worlds alike, with job posts, calls for artists, and a directory of spaces, as well as artist and arts professional stories. CAR got the boot from the city programming along with Chicago Publishes within the terms of the new Cultural Plan. CARandCAC1.jpeg

What's most important, perhaps, is that it's centralized; literary folks can look for jobs and learn about networking opportunities, plus read about an upcoming visual art opening that features a comics artist they'd like to collaborate with. When Chicago's art worlds collide they are made better and more diverse, and it's nice to know that there's a place where such permeability will be fostered, even if it's in a tiny way and on the internet.

Claire Glass

News Mon Aug 20 2012

More Books in Logan Square

Just a couple of weeks after I noticed flutters of something new at 2523 North Kedzie Blvd. a new bookstore, City Lit Books, is open for business. The shop's website doesn't appear to be up and running just yet, but the Facebook is active with updates. Unlike Bucket O' Blood or nearby Uncharted, City Lit sells new books of the general interest variety.

Bucket O' Blood is an expertly curated small shop that caters primarily to fans of speculative/science fiction, fantasy, and horror books. There's plenty there for any reader though. Uncharted sells used general interest books, plus some new locally churned stuff. They also host events. It's too early to know how City Lit will impact the neighborhood's readers, but look back for developments.

Claire Glass

Chicago Public Library Mon Aug 20 2012

No Late Fees: Starts Today

Now is the time to return that copy of War and Peace you've been trying to read for the past 11 months. The Chicago Public Library has announced that it will overlook all late fees for overdue books, DVD's, CD's, and tapes starting today through September 7.

For more info go to the Chicago Public Library website.

Julie Zarlenga

Chicago Public Library Wed Aug 08 2012

Chicago Public Library Announces "Once in a Blue Moon Amnesty"

chicago-public-library-logo.gifThe Chicago Public Library isn't kidding when it calls its three-week period of amnesty on late fees "Once in a Blue Moon" -- the last time CPL offered an amnesty was in 1992, and before that 1985. So jump at this chance: from Aug. 20 through Sept. 7, you can return any overdue books, CDs, DVDs and other materials without paying the late fee -- no matter how long you've been hanging onto it. And if the item is lost, you can absolve yourself by paying only the replacement cost, sans fees.

"In conducting this amnesty, we expect to recover thousands of outstanding items, the value of which will most likely exceed the lost revenue in fines. This will recoup the City's investment in the materials and, most importantly, make them available for other patrons to use," said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon in a news release. "This program aligns with our commitment to lowering the barriers to library use for all Chicagoans, especially those most in need of our services."

The library estimates it's owed $1.2 million in fees on overdue materials valued at $2 million. In 1985, the amnesty resulted in more than 77,000 books being returned to the library.

Andrew Huff

News Tue Jul 31 2012

Get J. K. Rowling In Your Classroom

Scholastic Books announced a new Harry Potter Reading Club online with new activities and discussion questions added every month. To kick it off, J. K. Rowling will be participating in a live webcast on October 11, 2012 at 11am Central time. It's designed for schools and those that would like to participate can sign up here.

Rebecca Hyland

News Wed Jul 18 2012

Chicago Public Libraries to Again Offer Full Days on Mondays

First he closed libraries on Mondays in January, then in February he opened them from 2 to 6pm on Mondays. Now mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in an official statement this past Monday that Chicago Public Libraries will reopen for full 8 hour days on Mondays. "By taking a new and creative approach to staff libraries, not only will young children, parents and adults be able to take advantage of services and resources that our community libraries offer for 8 hours on Mondays, we have an opportunity to broaden the array of services we offer," he said.

Rebecca Hyland

News Tue Jul 17 2012

Encyclopedia Brown Author Donald J. Sobol Dies

Donald J. Sobol, author of the Encyclopedia Brown series, died July 11 of gastric lymphoma. Mr. Sobol was 87. The Encyclopedia Brown series featured a plucky 10-year-old who, along with his best friend Sally Kimball, ran a detective agency that charged neighborhood kids 25 cents a day (plus expenses). The first book, Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective, came out in 1963. The series produced 28 books, a comic strip and a TV series. The Tampa Bay Times obtiuary quotes an interview with Sobol: "Readers constantly ask me if Encyclopedia is a real boy. He is, perhaps, the boy I wanted to be - doing the things I wanted to read about but could not find in any book when I was 10."

Rebecca Hyland

News Mon Jun 25 2012

Book Fort at Pitchfork Music Festival

This year's Pitchfork Music Festival gets literary with its first Book Fort. This area will allow attendees to peruse stacks of books from such vendors as McSweeney's, Drag City Books, Write Bloody and Poetry Magazine.

Chicago publishing company Featherproof books, is sponsoring programming, which includes panel discussions and readings.

The Book Fort will be up and running for the duration of the festival weekend, July 13-15 at Union Park.

John Wawrzaszek

News Thu Jun 07 2012

Newcity's LIT 50 is Out!

Newcity's annual Lit 50, a list of the most influential players in Chicago's literary community, is out today. This year, the focus is on writers and designers. Check it out to see who really books in Chicago.

John Wawrzaszek

News Wed Jun 06 2012

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury, author of The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, and Something Wicked This Way Comes, died this morning in Los Angeles, at the age of 91. Read more here.

Rebecca Hyland

Book Club Mon May 21 2012

Self Published Authors: See Yourself on the Shelf

With giants like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt declaring bankruptcy, and so many others going the way of eBooks, it's no surprise that indie booksellers are working to sharpen the process for getting self published authors on their shelves. After all, self publishing these days means less and less about a book's quality.

The American Booksellers Association wrote on the subject last month. Check out this excerpt about one book seller's plan:

One of Watermark's programs simply offers a little coveted shelf space. "No questions asked, we'll take five copies of a book on consignment," said Sarah Bagby, owner of Watermark Books and Cafe in Wichita, Kansas. The terms are 60/40, and the store keeps the books on the shelves for 90 days. "If they sell, we'll get back to the author right away and reorder. If they don't, the author needs to pick up their books." Staff reconciles the section every month. Contracts for the authors are kept at the cash wrap, and staff is trained on the programs that Watermark offers.

Read the entire article for more details.

Claire Glass / Comments (1)

Author Tue May 08 2012

Maurice Sendak, Author/Illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are, Dies

Author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died in the early morning today. He was 83. Well known for his work Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak had a distinct style that many children came to know and love. His work had resonance that spanned over four decades.

John Wawrzaszek

News Wed May 02 2012

Peek At Presidential Biography

Vanity Fair has published an excerpt of David Maraniss' upcoming biography, Barack Obama: The Story. Focusing on his early years, the book includes a 1982 letter to an old girlfriend analyzing poetry (Clinton chose Leaves of Grass; Obama feels a kinship with T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land). A few of his thoughts: "Facing what he perceives as a choice between ecstatic chaos and lifeless mechanistic order, he accedes to maintaining a separation of asexual purity and brutal sexual reality. And he wears a stoical face before this. ...Remember how I said there's a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism - Eliot is of this type." Read more here.

Rebecca Hyland

Book Club Thu Apr 26 2012

Comics Journalism: Your Life in Panel Form

With Free Comic Book Day on the horizon many of us are taking an extra look-see into the city's vibrant industry. There's quite a bit going on, but an interesting new venture is looking to find legs on Kickstarter right now.

The Illustrated Press: Chicago is a journalistic endeavor that fuses accurate reporting with the panel visuals and narrative style of comics. The duo behind the Chicago-centric publication produced two features for Gapers Block last year, and is still looking for a hefty chunk of change to fund a publishing project that aims to bring together some of the best stories from 2011 in a single bound volume. Four days to go!

Claire Glass

News Thu Apr 12 2012

Several States Sue Publishers in Anti-Trust Suit

Illinois joined 15 other states today in an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and several major publishers, charging that the companies colluded to fix the sale prices of electronic books.

Texas attorney general Greg Abbott said in an official statement: "Colluding to fix prices violates antitrust laws and raises costs for customers. In this case, three of the nation's largest publishing companies worked together to gain control of retail prices and raise the price of e-books. The defendants colluded to use the agency distribution model to effectively eliminate free market competition and allow publishers - rather than the marketplace - to set the price of e-books."

The multi-state lawsuit charges that this practice resulted in e-book customers paying more than $100 million in overcharges. The practice of artificially inflating prices began in late 2009, when Apple was getting ready to introduce the iPad, siliconvalley.com reports. In the same article, Steve Jobs is alleged to have told his biographer he approached publishers with "you set the price, we get our 30 percent and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that's what you want anyway."

Rebecca Hyland

News Thu Apr 05 2012

Google To Discontinue eBook Reseller Program

Independent bookstores received another blow today as Google announced it would discontinue its program, which allows independent bookstores to sell eBooks through its platform, mediabistro.com reports.

Scott Dougall, Google's director of product management and digital publishing, announced on their blog, "The program has not gained the traction that we hoped it would, so we have made the difficult decision to discontinue it by the end of January of next year."

The American Booksellers Association offers an e-commerce product called IndieCommerce for independent bookstores. Oren J. Teicher, president of the ABA, said in an e-mail to members, "To say the least, we are very disappointed with Google's decision. We are totally committed to providing IndieCommerce stores the means to continue to sell e-books, and, at minimum, we expect to move forward quickly with one or more partners who will better understand--and who will maintain closer ties to--your stores, and to the book industry in general." The ABA has also listed a FAQ to address the issue on their website.

Rebecca Hyland

News Thu Apr 05 2012

University of Chicago To Publish 2008 Self-Published Book

What's the motivation to self-publish? I'd always thought there was a stigma to going this route. I thought the general opinion was that it was kind of like going to the prom without a date, that self-publishers "haven't accepted that their book isn't well-written [and] haven't developed the critical skills necessary to recognise in which ways their work is lacking" (OK, so that's just an anonymous "working writer" on an internet forum).

It seems that perception has been changing in the last few years, though. Why? Well, obviously, most unknown writers' odds of getting picked up by a major publisher are a long shot, particularly in an economy where publishing houses are forced to cut expenses to stay competitive, according to the New York Times. Self-publishing has definitely grown in popularity in the last few years. Kevin Weiss, president and chief executive of Author Solutions (which owns, among others, iUniverse, AuthorHouse and Xlibris) told the New York Times they published 26,000 new books in 2011, as compared to 13,000 in 2007. In the same article, Brittany Turner of CreateSpace (the self-publishing arm of Amazon.com) reported an 80% increase in books published between 2009 and 2010. As for proof of quality, self-publishers have gone on to become best-sellers and some have gone on to get picked up by traditional publishers, such as Louise Voss and Mark Edwards, whose expertly self-marketed book Catch Your Death went on to snag a six-figure advance from HarperFiction, according to the marketing website expertmessagegroup.com.

The latest self to traditional publishing Cinderella story is Sergio De La Pava's A Naked Singularity, to be published by the University of Chicago Press in May. Levi Stahl, promotions director for U. of C. Press told mediabistro.com "I read a review in the Quarterly Conversation that said the novel was the best [the reviewer] had read all year, maybe the best of the decade. ...I discovered...it was brilliant, and it was a shame that no publisher had signed it. I started rattling cages here at Chicago to convince people we should publish the book. Without cheap digital publishing technology, the book would never have existed; without the Web, I would never have heard about it."

Rebecca Hyland

News Sun Apr 01 2012

Happy National Poetry Month!

April always brings spring...and National Poetry Month. Today is the first day for you to get involved, go out and celebrate, or just curl up with a chapbook--all in the name of poetry. Poets.org has a ton of ideas and activities--not to mention a national event calendar--to keep you busy with poetry all month long.
Chicago's own Poetry Foundation also has a host of happenings all over the U.S. and right here at home, such as readings, performances of music and poetry, and a Children's Poetry Day. Check it all out here.

Emily Wong

News Thu Mar 22 2012

Agate Publishing Forms Partnership With Chicago Tribune

Evanston-based Agate Publishing announces a partnership with the Chicago Tribune to produce ebooks created from Chicago Tribune-owned content. Agate has produced ebook editions simultaneously with its printed books since 2009; the Tribune content will be published as part of its new purely ebook imprint, Agate Digital. Read more here.

Rebecca Hyland

News Wed Mar 14 2012

Update: Columbia College Still Creating Change

If we look back to two weeks ago, the climate of Columbia College's writing departments was a bit tense (let's say). Neither the Fiction Writing Chair Randy Albers or English department Chair Ken Daley received a renewal of their contract. This was a red flag as prior to this there were talks of integrating their two departments into a new Creative Writing Major.

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, word came down from Louise Love, the college's Vice President of Academic Affairs, that both of the Chairs were asked to renew their contracts (and both accepted). Yet the sword of Damocles still hangs overhead. The talk of changes to their respective departments is still unaddressed. Love also mentioned that decisions regarding their departments, if any, will be made after the academic year has concluded in June.

In a recent Newcity article, Albers seems optimistic about the future of his program, his job, the college and its students. At the Reading Under the Influence event last week, Albers and many other Fiction Writing department faculty were guests. Albers read a piece of creative nonfiction, which detailed his personal journey through the Fiction Writing department. As he feels, it's one that hasn't ended yet.

John Wawrzaszek

News Wed Mar 14 2012

Encyclopaedia Britannica To End Print Editions

On Tuesday, Chicago-based Encyclopaedia Britannica announced it will cease publication of its yearly 32-volume set, switching to a completely online format.

"I understand that for some the end of the Britannica print set may be perceived as an unwelcomed goodbye to a dear, reliable, and trustworthy friend that brought them the joy of discovery in the quest for knowledge," Encyclopaedia Britannica president Jorge Cruz said. "At Encyclopaedia Britannica we believe that the announcement...is of great significance, not for what it says about our past, but for what it projects about our vibrant present and future as a digital provider of general knowledge and instructional services. Today our digital database is much larger than what we can fit in the print set, and it is up to date because we can revise it within minutes anytime we need to, and we do it many times each day."

The 2010 edition is the company's last print edition, according to cnet.com. The entire set costs $1,395 and only 8,000 copies have been sold; 4,000 remaining copies have been warehoused until sold. Encyclopaedia Britannica's sales peaked in 1990 with the sale of 120,000 sets, just before the boom of the Internet.

Rebecca Hyland

News Mon Mar 05 2012

Book Banned from Apple iBooks Over Content

Seth Godin's e-Book Stop Selling Dreams was recently rejected by Apple iBooks. The offending content in question? Links to recommended books - on amazon.com.

"I think there's nothing much wrong with merchants and vendors working hard with exclusives and deals to increase market share," Godin said. "When it comes to a content screen, though, I get nervous, particularly when the device is part of the store. Once you are reading your books on a device that is hooked into a store, the person curating the store has a great deal more power than a local bookseller ever did." Read more here.

Godin is a marketing specialist and public speaker who launched the websites Yoyodyne (later purchased by Yahoo) and Squidoo. He describes Stop Stealing Dreams as a "30,000 word manifesto" on the state of modern education. He is not charging for the book and offers several options to download it for free.

Rebecca Hyland

Events Wed Feb 29 2012

One Book, One Chicago: Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

GoldBoyEmeraldGirl.jpg

This week the Chicago Public Library announces the latest One Book, One Chicago selection: Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li. Of the collection of nine short stories set in China between the 1970s and the present, author Francine Prose says, "Yiyun Li's tenderness toward her characters, her respect for the richness of their lives, and the subtlety and gentle humor with which she portrays them make the experience of reading Gold Boy, Emerald Girl consistently heartening." One Book, One Chicago events will commence in April, so you've got plenty of time to read. Highlights include a book discussion with Li and Achy Obejas at the Harold Washington Library on April 19, a tour of Chinatown with the Chinese Cultural Institute, and an exhibit of artwork inspired by the book by Chicago area high school students. For a complete list of events, click here.

Rebecca Hyland

News Mon Feb 27 2012

Change Comes To Columbia College's Fiction Writing Department

Higher Education has suffered under the stress of our economic climate these past years. Columbia College Chicago, an institution focusing on arts and media education has not been immune to these ills. In an attempt to strengthen resources, Columbia has undertaken certain strategic measures. Such measures include those addressed in an article published in the Reader by Deanna Issacs concerning treatment of full-time and adjunct faculty at local colleges such as Columbia and Northwestern.

In the same vein, Columbia has pushed for further measures this year to maintain its budget. Spotlights on staff and faculty positions are the latest attempt to prioritize assets. This past Friday, the contract of Randy Albers, chair of the college's Fiction Writing Department, was not renewed. Albers has been part of the department for 16 years. He is notable for his role in fostering the annual Story Week Festival of Writers (2012 guests feature Bonnie Jo Campbell and Christine Sneed). No replacement has been announced. Albers will still maintain his role as a full-time faculty member.

As someone currently enrolled in this writing program, I find it hard to imagine what shape it will have in the near future. There have been reports from academic deans, posted in the campus newspaper, calling for a new creative nonfiction major. This might be where the Fiction Writing department lands. The answer to that question is as unclear as that of who will become the new department chair.

Fiction Writing department faculty member and local writer Rob Duffer puts it best in his article posted today on the Examiner, "It seems fitting, then, that no successor -- no chair -- has been named. It was best filled by Randy Albers."

John Wawrzaszek

News Tue Jan 31 2012

Newcity Lit on Curbside Spendor

Newcity reviews the Logan Square literary journal Curbside Splendor's variety of voices, photos, and areas for improvement and growth.

Rose Lannin

Books Tue Jan 24 2012

Tribune Unveils New Sunday Book Section

Back in 1946, the Chicago Tribune first introduced a Sunday book section to its readers that would become a staple of the newspaper for more than 60 years. Over time that section has shrunk to a single page you can now find in the Saturday edition. Eventually it wasn't worth the cost to continue printing the supplement, since more and more readers turned to the web's proliferation of literary sites for their information.

Today, the Trib is moving forward by looking backwards: Printers Row, a revamped book section of all things literary (with a Chicago focus), will be available in current subscribers' Sunday papers for an additional cost of $99 per year, at the rate of about $2 per week — if you're not a current subscriber but want to join the bandwagon, your premium goes up to $149 for the supplement. Want to dip your toe in every now and then? You can purchase single editions of Printers Row as e-books for $2.99 on Amazon.

This premium paid content is scheduled to reach subscribers next month, and will include 24 pages of book reviews, literary news, author interviews, special reports on Chicago and Midwest writers and a new piece of short fiction each week. Members will also have access to members-only book discussions, author receptions at the annual Printers Row Lit Fest, behind-the-scenes "literary" tours, and free entry to monthly live author conversations.

To generate interest, a sample of about 100,000 subscribers will get a free introductory issue this Sunday, and Trib executives hope to retain at least 10,000 of them. If you're not a subscriber but want to check it out, a digital version will be made available at that time, and will be accessible here. Readers can expect articles by guest authors, as well as Trib regulars such as Julia Keller, Elizabeth Taylor, Chris Jones and Rick Kogan.

"This is an innovation," said Gerould Kern, senior vice president and editor of the Tribune, in an article published today. "We're being aggressive and moving forward. We're trying to develop new ideas and get them into play. We're not going to just stand still. We're very hopeful that this is part of a new publishing approach that is right for the times."

Megan E. Doherty

News Thu Jan 19 2012

Storytelling For Everyone: Courses in Personal Narrative

The Chicago literary series This Much is True and Story Lab Chicago bring a unique lineup of performers to their monthly events. The creative forces behind these series are presenting writing classes that aim to develop storytellers. Their initiative Storytelling For Everyone: A Four Session Course in Personal Narrative will be a set of four 3-hour sessions that cover the process of developing a story to readying it for live performance. Sessions are structured with a workshop component where writers will receive feedback on their work.

The class instructor is Scott Whitehair, producer of This Much Is True and creator/host of Story Lab Chicago. Each class size will be capped at 6 giving those enrolled more one-on-one time with fellow classmates and the instructor.

This program will be held in the Cornelia Arts Building (1800 W Cornelia) on Saturdays from January 28 through February 18 from 10am to 1pm.

The workshop registration Fee is $125. Check out how to sign up at the Story Lab website or check their registration website.


John Wawrzaszek

News Wed Dec 14 2011

Beloved Independent Evanston Bookstore To Close

bookmansalleysign2.jpg

After 30 years, Bookman's Alley in Evanston is set to close. Owner Roger Carlson cited advancing age and complications from a recent car accident as his reasons for his closing. "I'm not dead, I'm not even dying," he told the Chicago Sun-Times, "but circumstances dictate I say goodbye to the bookshop." The store will remain open if Carlson finds a new owner. Store is set to close in March, so plenty of time to soak up sales and get in some holiday shopping.

Rebecca Hyland / Comments (1)

Books Wed Nov 23 2011

Annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference

Stay tuned, because the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) will host its Annual Conference & Book fair at the Hilton Chicago (720 South Michigan Ave.) and the Palmer House Hilton (17 East Monroe St.) from February 29 to March 3, 2012.

Why care? Maybe because this conference is the largest literary gathering in North America. The keynote address will be given by Margaret Atwood, and it will also be an occasion for a reunion of eight Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, two Poets Laureate, six National Book Award winners, and nine recipients of the National Book Critics Circle Award — not to mention, hundreds of other readers, speakers, and panelists (including Jennifer Egan, C. K. Williams, Jane Smiley and Marilynne Robinson). There will be a mind-boggling 400 events, as well as exhibits by more than 550 presses, magazines, and literary arts organizations, so start planning now!

Preregistration details:

-From now through January 23
-Rates for the three-day conference are $155 for members and $225 for non-members -On-site registration starts February 29 at the Hilton Chicago
-On-site registration rates are $190 for members and $265 for non-members

More details, courtesy of the press release:

On Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3, the following events at Hilton Chicago will be free and open to the public: The Poetry Foundation presents Philip Levine and Carol Ann Duffy; Columbia College Chicago Poetry & Nonfiction Programs present Esmeralda Santiago and Jeanette Walls; The Academy of American Poets presents Lyn Hejinian and Edward Hirsch; Columbia College Chicago Story Week and Bath Spa University present Ronnie Baker Brooks, Aleksander Hemon, Audrey Niffenegger, and Irvine Welsh. Event locations and details can be found at awpwriter.org/conference/2012awpconf.php.

On Saturday, March 3, the AWP Bookfair at Hilton Chicago will be free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Exhibitors include Chicago Review, Dalkey Archive Press, Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions, n+1, Ninth Letter, Northwestern University Press, Poetry, Tin House, and W.W. Norton.

Megan E. Doherty

News Tue Nov 22 2011

Marcus Sakey Hosts Travel Channel's "Hidden City"

hidden-city_chicago_marcus_sakey_navypier_596x334_596x334.jpg

Marcus Sakey isn't just an award-winning crime novelist anymore. He's now also host of a new TV show, "Hidden City," debuting Dec. 6 on the Travel Channel. Here's a preview:

The first episode focuses, naturally, on Sakey's home town of Chicago. You can see more sample clips from the premier on the show's video page on TravelChannel.com.

Andrew Huff

News Wed Nov 16 2011

Occupy Poetry?

"Look, we are thieves ... and ones with a pretty strict code of ethics; namely, that we don't steal from people.... Stealing from corporate entities, or banks, or the gods, or whatever has a long and venerable tradition. It's how we got fire, how Hermes became a God, how so much great myth, art, & literature has been conceived -- acts of thievery and transgression, which restore a certain sort of balance." - Croatoan Poetic Cell

"Between that kind of activism and any form of accountability one finds a buffer of obtuse pseudo-theory, a convenient layer of cerebral anarchy." - salon.com

Salon.com takes on the recent Poetry Foundation protests; read more here.

Rebecca Hyland

Books Mon Nov 14 2011

Tribune Book Section?

The word on the literary street is that the Tribune may have a weekly book section up its sleeve — starting in January, you could be soaking up the latest news and reviews about books in Printer's Row, a supplement to the newspaper, for a small price.

Megan E. Doherty

Events Thu Nov 03 2011

Poems While You Wait @ Dose Market

"O, Dose Market,
a curated selection of food & design for self & home.
Do not forget,
as you stroll the booths, to commission an artisanal poem!"

Dave Landsberger, Eric Plattner, and Kathleen Rooney are once again taking part in Poems While You Wait. They will be composing poems on demand via vintage typewriter at Dose Market (River East Art Center, 435 East Illinois St), on Sunday, November 6, from 10am-4pm. For $5 (or whatever you have in your pocket--lint not accepted) you can command them to write on any topic you'd like. Proceeds will go to independent publisher Rose Metal Press.

Emily Wong

Events Tue Nov 01 2011

The Challenges of Writing a Memoir

At age 13, Meghan O'Rourke tried to write a novel. It was science fiction with "many princesses," including one named Cassiopeia.

meghan.jpgNow 35, she's since published two poetry collections and a written a memoir, The Long Goodbye, about the death of her 55-year-old mother from cancer.

"It embarrasses me," she said Thursday night at Maxim's (24 Goethe St.), an event sponsored by Chicago Publishes. Mark Bazer, host of the Interview Show, led a conversation with O'Rourke and writer Rachel DeWoskin. "I never thought I'd write a memoir."

Continue reading this entry »

Ruthie Kott

News Wed Oct 19 2011

Logan Square Anticipates New Bookstore

This fall, Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood will get a new bookstore. Uncharted Books, taking over the retail space of a former shoe store, will be a general used bookstore focusing on literature — no airport fiction allowed. You'll also find vintage classics, and an emphasis on local Chicago interest, biographies, memoirs, history, and women's studies.

uncharted.jpgUncharted is the brainchild of Tanner McSwain, a transplant (ultimately) from a chicken farm in Albemarle, NC, who keeps finding himself in Logan Square — which, he feels, is "the right neighborhood at the right time. It's on the cusp of booming and becoming a destination."

Not one to disparage any of his fellow used bookstores (all booksellers are "on the same team", after all), and being a loyal fan of favorites Myopic, Women & Children First, Powell's and the Seminary Co-op, McSwain still feels that Chicago, and particularly his neighborhood, really needs a more general used bookstore. His niche is establishing a store without a niche.

The name of the bookstore comes from his hope to establish a place that allows adventure and exploration. "I'm definitely sailing into unknown territory here, and though I have some very specific visions for the direction of the store, it's also a bit of a blank page."

While he seems to be doing well on amassing titles to sell (currently, he has 8,000 books, and he hopes to reach 12,000 by opening), the transformation of the location itself into his vision for Uncharted seems dangerously far from its goal.

Retail horizontal grills — the kind you hang hooks for merchandise on — still cover what will eventually be beautiful, exposed brick; a plywood sub-floor waits to be transformed into either hardwood or nice laminate; the suspended ceiling, composed of those square, acoustic tiles, will be torn down, revealing the exposed pipe work above it.

McSwain is optimistic he'll be able to enact these renovations, perhaps by Thanksgiving, and if not, by Christmas — and what will be left is the feel of an old world European pub; dark woods, cozy.

Uncharted Books will be much more than a bookstore, however. It will double as a community center, offering literacy programs, writing classes, open mics, and readings. His goal, of course, is to "encourage people to create art and literature and not just consume it." A resident of Logan Square for many years, McSwain already has roots there, but he wants to make those roots deeper.

coming soon.jpgMcSwain, who is also a licensed massage therapist, has a background in publishing. A former employee of indie publisher Agate as well as McGraw-Hill, he's optimistic that independent bookstores, despite all economic woes, are "doing just fine". His research indicated that small, used bookstores are "borderline recession-proof," due to their low start-up costs and their ability to tap into people's "recession-era need" for thrift.

Of course, there's no harm in asking for a little help to get things started. Uncharted Books, which will buy your used reads for "more than you think," is also happy to accept donations. That, or you can check out their Kickstarter campaign.

Details:
Uncharted Books
Opening Fall 2011
2630 N. Milwaukee Avenue


Megan E. Doherty

Events Thu Oct 06 2011

A Bright Idea

Chicago Ideas Week starts on Monday, October 10. Great speakers and great thinkers will put their heads together to see what they can create. You can't go wrong with any of the events (all listed here) that range from an interview with former President Bill Clinton to a chef-for-a-day experience with Eli's Cheesecake. But if you go to just one, be sure to choose the Poetry Foundation's first foray into Chicago Ideas Week with speakers Ken Arkind, Tony Hoagland, J. Patrick Lewis, Agustina Woodgate, and Mary Zimmerman discussing the power and artistry of language. The talk takes place Saturday, October 15, at 4pm at the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior). Tickets are $15, but if you go here and use the code SJILN, your admission is free!

Emily Wong

News Mon Sep 26 2011

Banned Books Week Is Back

September 24 to October 1 is Banned Books Week all over the U.S. To celebrate here in Chicago, check out Books on the Chopping Block, an hour-long program of readings from the most challenged books of 2010. Presented by City Lit and the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom, seven readings will take place at libraries in and around Chicago, ending in a final reading in suburban Glencoe. For times and locations, click here. If you don't feel like following the banned books around, you can take part in a Virtual Read-Out instead: submit a two-minute or less reading from a banned book or a three-minute eye-witness account of a banned book challenge in your area. Videos will be posted on a special YouTube channel. Get instructions on how to participate here. Happy Banned Books Week!

Emily Wong

Events Mon Sep 19 2011

The Poetry Postcards Project

Over the years, the Alternative Press (Ken and Ann Mikolowski) made and sent out to their followers "poetry postcards," written by such poetry notables as Anne Waldman, Robert Creely, and Ted Berrigan. These postcards will be exhibited as The Alternative Press Multiple Originals Project at the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior) from September 21 to November 4. And to celebrate, the Foundation will host an opening reception on September 22 at 6pm, where poets Bill Berkson, Andrei Codrescu, and Emily Warn talk with Ken Mikolowski about The Alternative Press's unique project. For more information on The Alternative Press Multiple Originals Project, the poets who participated, and examples of poetry postcards, check out this article by Emily Warn.

Emily Wong

News Wed Sep 14 2011

And the Emmy Goes to...

In July, we reported that the Poetry Foundation and HBO were nominated for an Emmy for their production of A Child's Garden of Poetry. Well, now we're pleased to announce that A Child's Garden of Poetry is the winner of the 2011 Primetime Emmy® Award for Outstanding Children's Program. Congrats to all involved!

Emily Wong

Miscellaneous Tue Sep 06 2011

U of I Chicago Makes the Grade

In a ranking of the top 15 Creative Writing Doctoral Programs of 2012, the University of Illinois at Chicago comes in at #6! Click here to see more details.

Emily Wong

Miscellaneous Thu Sep 01 2011

Chicago Newspapers Since 1960

Wanna know what Chicago papers have been in print for over 50 years? Check out Stanford University's new interactive map that shows what papers have been published where throughout history.

Emily Wong

Contest Wed Aug 24 2011

Got a Little Gothic Blue Book in Ya?


Gothic Blue Books -- popular in the 18th and 19th centuries -- are shortened versions of Gothic novels, always set in a monastery or convent or castle. And Chicago small press Burial Day Books is bringing it back -- with their own twist. For Burial Day Books' version of the Gothic Blue Book, they're requesting submissions of short stories (poems will also be considered) that follow the original Gothic Blue Book guideline or the New Burial Day Gothic Blue Book guideline. Click here for the guideline definitions and official rules and tips. Submission deadline is September 13. The publication date (online and in traditional journal format)? You guessed it: October 31.

Emily Wong

Miscellaneous Mon Aug 22 2011

You've Heard of the Great Wall...

Now go check out the "book wall" in the Chicago Publishers Gallery at the Chicago Cultural Center. The wall is made up of books distributed by the Chicago Distribution Center and is meant to convey the diversity of Midwest publishing. Stop by the gallery for a concert, some coffee, and to see how many of the 600+ books in the wall you've read!


Emily Wong

News Mon Aug 22 2011

Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury

The author of Fahrenheit 451 and much, much more turns 91 today. Dandelion Wine was inspired by his boyhood days in Waukegan.

Rose Lannin

News Fri Aug 19 2011

YoYoMagazine Publishes At Zero: Part II

YoYoMagazine is an online journal of art, narrative, and poetry made up of artist, professor and writer Rebecca Keller, artist and educator Amber Ginsburg, and editor and writer Kristin Ginger. Their newest issue, At Zero: Part II, is available right now, with accompanying audio content.

Rose Lannin

Books Tue Aug 16 2011

Midway Books' Midwestern Focus

Agate Publishing, a local press around since 2003, will be extending its number of imprints from three to four: Midway Books will launch spring 2012, and will focus exclusively on Midwestern books by Midwestern authors, with a special emphasis on Chicago.

header2.jpg

Megan E. Doherty

News Tue Aug 16 2011

Vonnegut: 1; Would-Be Censors: 0

In an impressive move, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is giving 150 free copies of his most popular work, Slaughterhouse-Five, to students at Republic High School in Missouri. The act comes after the school tried to ban it in July following a professor's complaint about the content. An anonymous donor provided the library with the books and all students need to do is email the library requesting the copy. How's that for the University of Chicago alum sticking to the man from the grave? [via]

Veronica Bond

Events Thu Aug 11 2011

Where to Find--and Tell--a Story

Everyone has a story to tell, and if you come to Here's the Story, you can listen to some and even tell one of your own. Taking place every second Wednesday of the month at 7:30pm, at Stage 773 (1225 W Belmont), Here's the Story features five invited readers and holds a "story slam" for anyone who signs up. If you're selected as a "slammer," you get the floor at your designated time, share your story, and then keep your fingers crossed that the audience likes it--because they assign points to their favorites. The slammer with the most points gets to be one of the next month's featured readers. What makes Here's the Story different from tons of other readings, slams, and open mics around the city? It's also a potluck! Bring a dish to pass, fill your plate, and settle in for some serious storytelling. Get more info, see how to submit to be a featured reader, and check out past events here. Next show is September 14!

Emily Wong / Comments (2)

News Mon Aug 01 2011

The New Kids in School

Welcome a couple of Chicago's new literary endeavors...
1) Anobium: As described by Editor-in-Chief Benjamin van Loon, "Anobium is an answer to Reality. It's an experiment." Check out Chicago Publishes interview with van Loon here and then take a look at Anobium for yourself.
2) Grow Books: Started by Alyson Beaton, Grow Books features eco-friendly books for kids. Learn a little about Grow Books from Beaton here and then see what the publisher has to offer!

Emily Wong

Miscellaneous Fri Jul 29 2011

Dead Authors to Attend Printers' Ball

Kind of. Theater troupe Collaboraction will be dressed up as passed-on Chicago authors tonight at the 2011 Printers' Ball. They'll give ball-goers a little advice, a few words of wisdom, and the chance to win a Kindle. Seek a dead author out for an entry slip, write a literary quote on the slip, bring the slip to the Chicago Publishes table on the 8th floor, and cross your fingers! At the end of the night, perhaps you'll go home happy with a new Kindle.

Emily Wong

News Thu Jul 28 2011

High-Tech UChicago Library: Marrying Books and the Digital Age

The University of Chicago's Mansueto Library is new.

Not only did it open just two months ago, but it has also brought new technology to the often very nostalgic world of books: a robotic storage and retrieval system, 50 feet underground.

Implemented to accomodate the increasing need for space (the University acquires some 150,000 new books a year), the Mansueto actually belies the "bookless" epithet by recognizing the importance of keeping the texts themselves readily available on location. While students and scholars cannot physically browse titles in the stacks, the time from book request to receipt is only a matter of minutes.

The purpose is to keep print collections accessible, rather than relegate them to the dustbin. And to keep books accessible in an increasingly digital world, sometimes a little help from a robot might be a good bet.

Megan E. Doherty

News Thu Jul 28 2011

Android and iPad Get the Poetry App

The Poetry Foundation started their Poetry app with the iPhone. Well, Android and iPad users rejoice: the Poetry app is available for you too! Now you'll get to enjoy audio poems in the virtual poetry library, poem source information, and poets' bios, plus much more. Download the Android app here and the iPad app here.

Emily Wong

News Wed Jul 27 2011

U of C Purchases Borders Building

As Borders moves on out of the city, and our lives, the University of Chicago has purchased the former Borders building at 1539 E. 53rd St. According to officials, the U of C is looking retail, home goods, entertainment, or restaurant tenants for the site. The building has been vacant since March and the purchase is "part of a comprehensive effort to create a vibrant, mixed-use corridor along 53rd Street."

Veronica Bond

News Tue Jul 19 2011

Killing Peer Review

Is it a new lifestyle magazine for today's modern sociopath? No, it's an Inside Higher Ed article about the trend in scientific publishing to step beyond the traditional peer reviewed journal model to reach a wider audience through social media. "Think Wikipedia, but with original research and a specialized corps of volunteer editors. ...it seems shameful to cede editorial authority to only two reviewers when modern technology enables the consultation of thousands more. 'I think the ideal,' [Mohamed Noor, an evolutionary biologist at Duke] said, 'would be a combination of both.'" Read more/join the debate here.

Rebecca Hyland

News Thu Jul 14 2011

Where Are All the Feminist Bookstores?

If independent bookstores have been battered by economic forces, the same goes all the more for those with a specialized focus -- so says Linda Bubon of Chicago's Women and Children First, reportedly only one of nine feminist bookstores left in the country. Robin Amer of WBEZ interviews Bubon for an inside perspective, and you can read the whole conversation here.

Megan E. Doherty

Events Wed Jul 13 2011

Celebrate 25 Years of Slammin' Poetry

Way back in May, we told you about poetry slams turning 25 this year, and the big bash YCA is having to celebrate on Saturday, July 30, from 8-11pm. Haven't gotten your tickets yet? Well, we have an exciting update: Discounted student tickets are now available for $10! Go to the events page, click on the ticketing link, and enter the promotional code "student." When you pick up your tickets at will call on July 30, flash your student ID or mention "YCA." Happy slammin' poetry!

Emily Wong

News Thu Jun 30 2011

National Writers Museum in Chicago?

A retired engineer wants to build an American Writers Museum right here in Chicago! All he needs is the money to do it... Check out the Chicago Tribune's article on the endeavor here.

Emily Wong

Miscellaneous Mon Jun 27 2011

The Reader Recommends...

Robbie Q. Telfer as the Best Local Poet! Telfer is the Young Chicago Authors Performances Director. Check out some of his work here. Congrats also to runners-up Kevin Coval and Thax Douglas.

Emily Wong

News Fri Jun 10 2011

The Paper Machete Relocates to Horseshoe

One series closes, another moves: The Paper Machete, the weekly live magazine featuring performances by authors, musicians, comedians, and more, will now be hosted at Horseshoe (4115 N. Lincoln Ave.), a bar not far from its previous location, Ricochet's Tavern (4644 N. Lincoln Ave.).

Rose Lannin

News Sun Jun 05 2011

Book Browsers Gets Flashed

flashmob.jpg

On Saturday, June 4 at 2pm sharp, Printers Row Lit Fest browsers showed up at the Lil' Lit Park: Neverland children's stage for a scheduled group reading of Peter Pan led by journalist Rick Kogan. They got that and more: Right after the reading a flash mob of 500+ undercover dancers broke out. The event was organized by Open Books as part of their Make Your Mark/Get Chicago Reading program. Did you know 53% of Chicago adults have low or limited literacy skills? They do; click their link to find out how you can help through donating your time, books or money. Ample Flickr flash mob footage can be found here.

Rebecca Hyland / Comments (1)

Events Thu May 26 2011

Movin' On Up

The Poetry Foundation's brand spankin' new building will open to the public on June 25! And to celebrate, the foundation is inviting you over for a two-day open house on June 25 and 26, starting at 10am each day. Plan to not only be wowed by the beautiful new space but also by the entertainment, with readings from poets that include Billy Collins, Robert Hass, and Jack Prelutsky; a presentation by the building's architect, John Ronan; discussions; book signings; and much much more. Check out the schedule of events here, and reserve FREE tickets to any event(s) of your choice. It's only a month away! And you know how time flies when you're...reading poetry.

A visual rendering of the new building

Emily Wong

News Tue May 24 2011

The Oprah Book Effect

Wondering how the impending absence of Oprah will affect book sales? As an avid reader, with or without Oprah, I tend to think that we REAL readers - those of us whose shelves are stacked with books we plan to read someday, who never go anyway without a book on their person, who get more from a good find at a used bookstore than most women get from buying a new pair of shoes - will barely take note of her show's passing. That may be a bit of snobbery (or plain annoyance from being asked, when you're reading a book Oprah happened to pick, if you've read any of "her" other books and you realize they're not talking about the author), but the picture painted by these Nielson BookScan numbers is pretty hard to ignore. As a champion of books of all kinds, I have to admit that this loss makes me sad, just a little.

Veronica Bond

News Tue May 24 2011

Sourcebooks on Going E

Dominique Raccah, founder of local independent publisher Sourcebooks, talks to Crain's about getting involved in the ebook publishing world. Raccah says that the e-book revolution happened much faster than she expected - in her lifetime instead of her childrens'. She began publishing her first ebooks in 2000 and recently Soucebooks has turned some of their most popular nonfiction books into apps. Raccah's willingness to investigate new publishing formats clearly strengthens her company in a time when publishers all over are working hard to survive.

Veronica Bond

Awards Tue May 17 2011

Ebert Honored with Carl Sandburg Literary Award

This year the Chicago Public Library Foundation will award Roger Ebert the Carl Sandburg Literary Award. The Sun-Times reports that their columnist was a "unanimous choice" from the foundation's selection comittee. Ebert will be honored at a gala on October 20 on the UIC campus, where the foundaton's 25th anniversary, the Harold Washington Library Center's 20th anniversary, and the One Book, One Chicago program's 10th anniversary will all be celebrated.

Veronica Bond

News Mon May 16 2011

The Library of the Future...um, Present

The University of Chicago's Joe and Rika Mansueto Library opened today. Lest you think this is just another collection of long wood tables, dusty books, and handy places to hide for students' lacivious activites, think again: this library is for online work only. With no stacks to speak of, the library has an underground storage space where 3.5 million books are kept on 50-foot shelves and brought to students by a robotic system. Wired shares some thoughts on the futuristic, Helmut Jahn designed library, comparing this technology favorably to that of Google Books where copyrights limit full access to many works. Don't miss the comments where readers, including Chicago's own Sara Paretsky, offer some very real concerns, such as pertinent books are often stumbled upon on a walk through the stacks and this will no longer be possible, and what will happen to the library in the event of a robot uprising.

Curious about how the new, transparent dome library works? Check out this video, aptly titled "How It Works." (The image of that underground book holding area makes me think that this is how Trantor must have gotten started in Foundation, but I suppose that's neither here nor there.)

Veronica Bond

On the Web Wed May 11 2011

Chicago's Brothel Makes News!

The Chicago Poetry Brothel, which consists of poetry whores, burlesque dancers, and musicians, is featured in an Associated Press video essay. Susan Yount, brothel madam and Columbia College MFA student, and Kathleen Rooney, poet/writer and Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at DePaul, are interviewed. Check out the video on Yahoo! news.

Emily Wong

News Tue May 10 2011

And the Ellie Goes To...

Poetry magazine! Up for a National Magazine Award for "General Excellence, Print," Poetry beat out the likes of Lapham's Quarterly, The Paris Review, The Sun, and Virginia Quarterly Review for the coveted Ellie. This is the magazine's second award from the American Society of Magazine Editors', as the Poetry magazine podcast won an award in the Digital Media, "Podcasting" category. Congrats!

Emily Wong

News Tue May 10 2011

Whither Goest the Built-In Bookshelf?

With the advent of e-books comes another, unexpected demise--the built-in bookshelf is going the way of shag carpeting and mustard-colored kitchen appliances. According to Crain's, homeowners are either opting to drywall over their built-ins to make room for flat screen TVs and other entertainment accoutrement or using them only to shelve knickknacks. As someone whose dream home includes a room lined with built-in bookcases filled to the brim with books, I'm dismayed to read that people are just building over them. I can't help but wonder if some sort of Save the Bookshelf campaign should be started--perhaps for only $.29 a day, you too can sponsor an unwanted built-in. This doesn't even touch on the fact that the books you keep in your home speak volumes about you. How are we bibliophiles supposed to judge others without them?

Veronica Bond / Comments (3)

News Mon Apr 18 2011

Anobium punctatum

Or in other words, the bookworm. And the inspiration for Chicago's latest lit journal: Anobium. Started by Chicago editors Benjamin van Loon and Mary J. Levine, the journal embraces the "strange, surreal and exceptional." Check out Literary Chicago's interview with van Loon. And make sure to mark on your calendar that Anobium's first issue arrives in July!

Emily Wong

Miscellaneous Fri Apr 15 2011

Cram Poets Chosen

Remember when we talked about Poetry Cram 11? Well, the poets/poems have been selected for the 11th volume. See the list here. And don't forget, you can get your free copy of the journal on Saturday, April 30, from 10am to 4pm at Harold Washington Library.

Emily Wong

Awards Wed Apr 13 2011

Who Says Poetry Doesn't Pay?

David Ferry has been awarded the Poetry Foundation's 2011 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, which means $100,000 in his pocket...

Emily Wong

Books Tue Apr 12 2011

Bicycle Monthlies

Derailleur is the unofficial publication of Chicago Critical Mass. Check out the latest issue here, or the December 2010 edition (a super cute and fun calendar).

Rose Lannin

Miscellaneous Wed Apr 06 2011

Happy National Poetry Month!

Count the ways The Poetry Foundation is celebrating!

Emily Wong

Miscellaneous Tue Apr 05 2011

You Can't Get away from Poetry

The Poetry Foundation's Poetry Everywhere is starting its fourth season with Garrison Keillor. With Keillor as the narrator, this edition of Poetry Everywhere will offer short films with various poetic voices (including the likes of Galway Kinnell, Kwame Dawes, and Rita Dove) on public television as well as the web.

Emily Wong

News Mon Apr 04 2011

We're on Twitter!

Follow us to get all the Book Club news!

Emily Wong

News Wed Mar 30 2011

Shelve Under MayorEmanuel, @?

If you like reading words on pages but feel that the sentences in books are just too danged long, here's yet another chance to read your favorite 140-character strings in ink. The New York Times reports that Dan Sinker, the Columbia College professor revealed to be the fake Twitter Rahm Emanuel, will soon see his name on a book. Scribner has acquired the rights to publish a book compiling his colorful tweets, annotating them (for people who know nothing about Chicago but would still read this book, I guess?), and including Sinker's first person account of the charade. The book should be available later this year, just in time everyone to be over it already.

Veronica Bond

Miscellaneous Tue Mar 29 2011

April is National Poetry Month!

Which means starting Friday, April 1, there are tons of poetry-related events happening around the Chicagoland area. Check out a detailed schedule of events, courtesy of ChicagoPoetry.com, here.

Emily Wong

News Tue Mar 29 2011

Online Only: The Common Review

common review.jpgYet another print publication is packing up and calling it quits. The Common Review, the magazine of the Great Books Foundation (headquartered here), is ending its ten-year print run and will be published online only. The online version is set to debut in the fall of this year and promises to offer readers the opportunity to engage with the contributing authors in online discussion forums. New exciting venture or disheartening end of another print publication? Well, the online version will give you plenty of room to discuss.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Mar 22 2011

Michelle's Gardening & Healthy Eating

Seems like the Prez isn't the only Obama to land a book deal. The Guardian reports that First Lady Michelle is penning a book about her experience planting a vegetable garden on the White House lawn and will include her family's favorite healthy recipes. The book is slated for release in April 2012 and all proceeds will go to charity.

Veronica Bond

Events Mon Mar 21 2011

From the Gutters @ Oak Park Public Library

The Oak Park Public Library is getting in on the graphic novel scene! Their new From the Gutters series will meet on the fourth Wednesday of every month to discuss a particular graphic novel. The series kicks off March 23 at 7:30pm at the Main Library (834 Lake St, Oak Park) with Persepolis I & II by Marjane Satrapi. From the Gutters is open to anyone interested in reading and talking about books (and refreshments will be served!). Future graphic novels to be covered include Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman, Watchmen by Alan Moore, and The Dark Knight by Frank Miller.

Emily Wong

News Wed Mar 16 2011

Congrats Poetry Magazine Podcast!

Poetry magazine's monthly podcast, which talks about the magazine with its editors, has won an Ellie for Digital Media in the National Magazine Awards.

Emily Wong

News Mon Mar 14 2011

Gene Ha to Pencil Superman Tale

fspo_ps_1_r1_rgb.jpgLocal Chicago artist Gene Ha, known for his award winning comic book covers, his slated to illustrate an upcoming Superman miniseries alongside plotter Scott Snyder and scripter Lowell Francis. The mini is part of DC Comic's overarching Flashpoint story arc, an event that radically alters the fictional universe's timeline. Suffice to say, this will not be your father's Superman yarn. Flashpoint: Project Superman #1 is expected sometime later this spring.

James Orbesen

News Mon Mar 07 2011

New Silverstein to Be Released

every thing on it.jpgTo your left is the cover of Every Thing on It, the new collection of poems and drawings by the late Shel Silverstein. Slated for release in September, the contents were selected by family members. Raised in Chicago, Falling Up was Silverstein's last publication before his death in 1999; the book was followed by Runny Babbit released posthumously in 2005. The new book will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to all of us who fondly remember pouring over (and sometimes coloring in) all of Silverstein's engaging collections. (via)

Veronica Bond

News Fri Mar 04 2011

Oak Park Library Offers Library Card App For Smartphones

Forgot your library card in your old wallet? There's an app for that.

Rebecca Hyland

News Thu Mar 03 2011

Twitter Mayor Supports Literary Youth

In case you missed the news yesterday, Dan Sinker, née @mayoremanuel, donated $12,000 to local literary organization Young Chicago Authors, which works to increase the writing, publication, and performance skills of Chicago's young people. F*ck yeah.

Rose Lannin

News Wed Mar 02 2011

Read Across America Day

A little news on the national scale worth noting: Today is the National Education Association's 14th Annual Read Across America Day. Michelle Obama, Arne Duncan, and a cast of celebrities and other notables will kick off the celebration by reading Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham, in celebration of the Dr.'s 107th birthday. Check out all the pledges from Illinois here and enter in your own pledge telling everyone how you plan to celebrate reading today. (via)

Veronica Bond

Miscellaneous Tue Mar 01 2011

Props to Ottawa, IL!

The far western 'burb has a book club that's been meeting continuously for over 100 years! Founded in 1910, the Zetema book club even made it through both world wars. They contributed to World War I by making bandages, and on Dec. 9, 1941, they were reviewing Berlin Diary by William Shirer when then-President Roosevelt declared war on Japan. Check out the full Tribune article for more facts about this long-lasting club.

Emily Wong

News Fri Feb 25 2011

Congrats Poetry Magazine!

Chicago's very own Poetry magazine has had its podcast chosen as a finalist in the National Magazine Awards for Digital Media (in the podcasting category, obviously). Other finalists include Harvard Business Review, The New Yorker, Slate, and Tablet. Clearly, they're in good company! This award is presented at the same time as the American Society of Magazine Editors' awards for print journalism -- which just so happens to be pretty important in the magazine industry. In other words, it's kind of a big deal. The winners will be announced in March. In the meantime, check out the monthly podcasts that got Poetry the nomination.

Emily Wong

News Wed Feb 16 2011

Borders Goes Bankrupt, Plans More Closures

Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today, and announced an additional 200 stores will be closing by April, including several in the city and suburbs:

Chicago:
755 W. North Ave.
2817 N. Clark St.
4718 N. Broadway Ave.
6103 N. Lincoln Ave.
2210 W. 95th St.

Suburbs:
161 N. Webber Rd., Bolinbrook
6000 Northwest Hwy., Crystal Lake
49 S. Waukegan Rd., Deerfield
1700 Maple Ave., Evanston
4824 W. 211th St., Matteson
2221 Richmond Rd., McHenry
909 N. Elmhurst Rd., Mt. Prospect
3539 E. Main St., St. Charles

A PDF of all the closing locations is available here.

Andrew Huff / Comments (4)

On the Web Tue Feb 08 2011

Bringing Poetry to the People

The Poetry Foundation and the University of Utah Press have collaborated to publish Blueprints: Bringing Poetry into Communities, an e-book filled with renowned poets and community leaders talking about how they brought poetry to diverse areas. People interested in infusing poetry into their own communities will also find tips on how to do so, along with program ideas and tried-and-true methods. Download a free copy of the e-book here.

Emily Wong

Miscellaneous Mon Feb 07 2011

Tales of Morality from a German Psychiatrist

Doesn't sound all that appealing, does it? What if we told you they're children's tales, and they're creepy? In the 1880s, German psychiatrist Heinrich Hoffmann went to buy his son a book and was sorely disappointed in the selection. So he wrote his own -- Struwwelpeter -- which became very popular. Full of stories about what happens to bad little girls and boys, Struwwelpeter has been translated into many languages and adapted for stage and screen. And now, Chicago printmaker Sanya Glisic has given the book some new illustrations. Having a love for innocence, or the loss of it, Glisic worked on the illustrations when she was a Spudnik Press artist-in-residence in 2010. The result: a handmade version of Hoffmann's book released in a limited print run at Chicago's Spudnik Press. And Glisic herself will present her new version this Thursday at Quimby's, 7pm.

Emily Wong

News Tue Feb 01 2011

TED Talks To Kindle

The people behind the popular TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talks series now bring their signature "ideas worth spreading" to the written word. From their website: "Shorter than traditional books, TED Books run less than 20,000 words each - long enough to explain a powerful idea, but short enough to be read in a single sitting. Books are available on the Kindle and Kindle Reader apps, and cost $2.99 each." The first three titles in the series are The Happiness Manifesto: How Nations and People Can Nurture Well-Being by Nic Marks, Homo Evolutis: Please Meet the Next Human Species by Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans, and Beware Dangerism! Why We Worry About the Wrong Things, and What It's Doing to Our Kids by Gever Tulley.

Rebecca Hyland

News Tue Feb 01 2011

New Policies for Ebook Apps

You may have heard that earlier this week, Apple rejected Sony's Reader iPhone app from the App Store, enforcing a rule that, technically, has been there since the Store's beginnings: developers have to offer you the option to purchase content through Apple, not just a third party. This has caused a flurry of opinion and controversy -- to get a better scope of opinions, see comments at the bottom of the article, and/or do some research online.

Rose Lannin

News Thu Jan 27 2011

Chicago Poetry Has a Home!

This summer, the River North neighborhood will welcome The Poetry Foundation's new headquarters, which will also be a place of poetry for one and all. Read the annual letter from the foundation's president, Jon Barr, that eloquently describes the foundation's vision for their new home. And then check out the slideshow featuring photos and uses for the new space.

Emily Wong

Miscellaneous Thu Jan 27 2011

Crime Story

Local police officer Martin Preib discusses The Wagon and Other Stories from the City, the dark, funny, and altogether interesting stories of his time on the force.

Rose Lannin

News Tue Jan 18 2011

RIP Ric Hess

Ric Hess, local author and owner of Sheffield's, died Monday night.

Rebecca Hyland

News Wed Jan 12 2011

New Tech Magazine Launches

Do you speak Drupal? Can you communicate it to others? New magazine looking for writers.

Rebecca Hyland

News Wed Jan 12 2011

Historic Diary

The new book by Chicago poet Tony Trigilio, Historic Diary, has just been released by BlazeVOX. Read about it and buy it here. Also, stay tuned for Columbia College Chicago's Spring 2011 Reading Series, when Tony will be reading with Rachel Loden.

Emily Wong

Miscellaneous Wed Dec 29 2010

The Newberry's First Year-End Picks

It's not just another list, it's their opening list: Newberry curators and other expert staff name their best books of 2010.

Rose Lannin

Miscellaneous Tue Dec 28 2010

(More) Stories of the Year

Another list: the Chicago Reader recounts this year's contributions to their fiction issue.

Rose Lannin

Miscellaneous Mon Dec 13 2010

Hemingway's Birthplace for Cheap

No, it's not for sale. But as of 5:30pm, you have just over six hours left to buy a one-year family membership to the Ernest Hemingway Museum in Oak Park, courtesy of Groupon, for $30. Check out the writer's birth home and learn about the first 20 years of his life -- I've never been to the museum, but it's possible there will be some photos of the A Farewell to Arms scribe as a toddler dressed in drag.

Ruthie Kott

Miscellaneous Sat Dec 11 2010

Searching on Your Level

Google has a new feature on its advanced search page -- a "reading level" filter that parses your results by basic, intermediate and advanced.

Rose Lannin

On the Web Wed Dec 08 2010

Against Amazon

Seminary Co-op bookseller Jeff Waxman provides a news archive highlighting criticism of the online shopping giant.

Rose Lannin

News Wed Dec 08 2010

The Poetry Foundation Welcomes Ilya Kaminsky

The Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute has a new director: poet Ilya Kaminsky. Read all about Kaminsky and the institute here.

Emily Wong

Miscellaneous Tue Dec 07 2010

Libros en Español

Located in the heart of Pilsen at 1443 W. 18th St, Libreria Giron carries many of the same titles as other bookstores, but their selections are in Spanish. Here, owner Juan Giron explains how this unites the surrounding community.

Rose Lannin

News Wed Dec 01 2010

Franzen No Match for Irish in 2010 Bad Sex Award

Jonathan Franzen's Freedom was a contender for this year's Bad Sex in Fiction Award, held by the British publication Literary Review. The winner was Rowan Somerville for The Shape of Her (which I could only find on British book sites) for such lines as "like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her."

The award, given out every year since 1993, initially sought out to celebrate well written sex scenes, but that idea was ditched in favor of mocking that which aims for hot yet feels like watching a car crash. Then-Literary Review editor Auberon Waugh said, "for something like 15 years I had to review a novel a week in various publications, and bit by bit I noticed how practically every novelist had taken to including a sex scene which had nothing to do with the plot and added nothing to the enjoyment of the narrative. Nobody could possibly have been aroused by these awkward, perfunctory couplings." Here are Somerville's thoughts on winning the award, and here is a list of past winners.

Rebecca Hyland / Comments (1)

News Wed Nov 24 2010

American Idol for Writers or Literary Sweatshop?

"I know I'm the bad boy of American literature, but that's not what this is about. I'm doing this because I love books." - James Frey, on his Full Fathom Five writing collective, in an interview with The Guardian.

Rebecca Hyland

News Thu Nov 18 2010

A Decade of Design

threadless10yrs.jpgTo celebrate T-shirt company Threadless's 10th anniversary this year, the "most innovative small company in America" published a birthday book featuring designs from its history. The 224-page book, which can be ordered in paperback or (coming soon) as a coffee-table book, also includes profiles of fans and artists, such as graphic designer John Maeda.

Threadless co-founder Jake Nickell took some time to answer a few questions about Threadless: Ten Years of T-shirts from the World's Most Inspiring Online Design Community and the story he wants to tell about his company:

Continue reading this entry »

Ruthie Kott

News Tue Nov 16 2010

Happy Birthday Penguin!

In honor of turning 75 this year, Penguin books has released a box set of postcards featuring 100 classic Penguin book covers. Check out a few of the favorites here.

Emily Wong

Awards Sun Nov 14 2010

Shephard Wins Tribune Literary Prize

Upon receiving the the Chicago Tribune Literary Prize (part of the Chicago Humanities Festival) yesterday, native author and playwright Sam Shepard took the opportunity to reflect on his life, work, and stories.

Rose Lannin

News Fri Nov 05 2010

Nerds Unite for the Comic Shop Crawl

tn_Passport.jpgThe world of comic books and graphic novels seems like a strange, mystical place to those who don't full comprehend how amazing it can be. I can't even begin to tell you how many sideways glances I've gotten on the bus while reading The Boys. Luckily Chicago has some of the best comic book shops around to combat that train of thought. The comic book community here is booming. And now, the Comic Shop Crawl helps this community join forces to explore the graphic world of the city.

Earlier this week in Merge, we mentioned something about a Comic Shop Crawl. The Comic Shop Crawl is hosted by four local comic book stores: Chicago Comics, Third Coast Comics, First Aid Comics, and Challengers Comics. Each store is scattered across Chicago, literally forming a cross of sorts with their geographic locations. Starting this week, people can stop by any of the four shops and pick up a Comic Shop Passport. Readers have all month to travel to the remaining three locations and get their passport stamped, returning their filled passport to their starter location. It's not all about traveling to other stores though. Each participating store is offering 20% your purchase on that stop! So if you've been eying that Lost Girls deluxe book, this is your chance to save some dough on it. Not only is this a good opportunity to save some money but it also connects comic book lovers to others in the city. We are many but we are scattered, often latching on to one local shop and only befriending people there. The Comic Shop Crawl is an excellent way to connect the community and find others to blabber on about how awesome "The Walking Dead" TV show is.

If you're brave enough to complete your passport, you'll be automatically entered to split a prize pack compiled by all four stores that consists of $1000 worth of comic books, graphic novels, toys, and statues. Kind of hard to pass up, no? Winners will be announced at a huge Comic Shop Party on Saturday, December 4 at the American Legion Hall (1824 W. Cortland St) where all us nerds will party down. Stop by your nearest participating shop and start exploring!

Amy Dittmeier

News Tue Nov 02 2010

Chicagopublishes.com

On Nov. 9, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) is launching a new website dedicated to the publishing world: chicagopublishes.com. In a show of support for the creative industries, the site will play host to industry news, Chicago Publishers Gallery featured books and periodicals, and a calendar of area literary events. It will also provide readers with a database of Chicago publishers, as well as the usual social media stuff (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Read more about the site and what you can get out of it here. Then attend the Nov. 9 public launch event at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) from 4 - 5:30pm.

Emily Wong

News Mon Oct 18 2010

200 Signed Copies of My Year of Flops Available for Pre-Order

Everybody loves a train wreck, and some people were kind enough to film theirs for posterity. Onion AV Club head writer Nathan Rabin's new book My Year of Flops collects dozens of his best-loved fiasco-focused film columns and interviews plus 15 new entries, including a review of Johnny Cash's 1973 tribute to Jesus (Gospel Road) and a minute-by-minute account of the three hour long director's cut of Waterworld. There are 200 signed copies available for pre-order, so click on over to the Onion store today and let the schadenfreude roll.

Rebecca Hyland

News Sun Oct 10 2010

Local Author Wins Peace Poetry Prize

Columbia College student Olivia Cole tied for first place in the 2010 Barbara Mandingo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards, sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Rebecca Hyland

News Thu Oct 07 2010

Learn a Little Poetry

Are you a poetry teacher or student? Or do you just want to get some more info on poetry and what it's all about? You're in luck: The Poetry Foundation website has launched its second season of the Poetry Learning Lab, which contains, not just poetry, but the resources you need to study and understand it -- not to mention poetic essays, articles, poem guides, and glossary terms.

Emily Wong

News Thu Sep 30 2010

Spooky New Novella Out Just In Time For Halloween

Local fantasy author and bon vivant C.S.E. Cooney has her first novella,
The Big Bah-Ha, coming out this October from Drollerie Press. She calls it "a post-apocalyptic katabasis story, complete with kiddie gangs, slingshot battles, strange clowns, Tall Ones, and one very dead (very brave) child protagonist." If her past readings I've attended are any indication, it promises to be a rollicking good time, packed to overflowing with ideas. Check out the spooky book trailer by Jeremy Cooney of 330 Studios.

Rebecca Hyland / Comments (1)

News Wed Sep 29 2010

Every Kid Deserves A Library: What You Can Do To Help Whittier Elementary School

Over in Mechanics they've got ongoing coverage on the two-weeks-and-counting sit-in to save the fieldhouse at Whittier School in Pilsen and turn it into a library. Here are some quick links for information on how to help the parents at the site and how to help the Chicago Underground Library set the school up by donating books and supplies or volunteering to help sort and catalogue.

Rebecca Hyland

News Tue Sep 28 2010

Poem o' the Day

Today's Daily Poetry from Poets.org is a poem by Chicago transplant poet David Trinidad. Check it it out here.

Emily Wong

News Mon Sep 27 2010

Who's Afraid of Poetry?

Apparently, lots of people.

Emily Wong

News Sun Sep 26 2010

Whittier School Wants a Library

Over in Mechanics, find out why several dozen parents and students are occupying a Pilsen elementary field house to protest its demolition, and the issues of school libraries, TIFs, and school funding that surround their demonstration.

Rose Lannin

News Sat Sep 18 2010

Latest Jonathan Franzen Novel is New Oprah Book Club Pick

Jonathan Franzen's new book, Freedom, is Oprah Winfrey's next book club pick after she sent him a note asking permission to do so. Why the note? You may remember the two from such celebrity headlines as Winfrey choosing Franzen's The Corrections as a 2001 book club pick. At the time Franzen publicly expressed discomfort with being chosen, calling her book club picks "schmaltzy and one-dimensional," worrying that her recommendation might discourage male readers; Winfrey responded by canceling his appearance on her show. Apparently time and profitable publicity heal all wounds. The Oprah Winfrey Show is in its last season but Oprah's Book Club will live on. Winfrey says she will continue making book recommendations when her Oprah Winfrey Network begins airing on cable television next year.

Rebecca Hyland / Comments (1)

News Thu Sep 09 2010

In Need of a New Poetry Venue?

Look no further: Pressure Billiards and Cafe (6318 N. Clark) is starting an open mic. Every third Thursday of the month, beginning at 8:30pm, poetry, short stories, musicians, and comedians will be in the spotlight. The best part? The readings operate in two rounds -- you can showcase up to four poems in one night! The second best part? No cover.

Emily Wong / Comments (1)

News Wed Aug 25 2010

The Book Cellar Wins 2010 TOC Reader's Choice Award

The home of the GB Book Club, the Book Cellar, won a 2010 Reader's Choice Shopping Award from Time Out Chicago. Announced in TOC's Aug 19-25 issue, the Reader's Choice award winners also include the MCA Store (for Best Museum Gift Store), the Pleasure Chest (for Best Sex Shop), and Neil Patrick Harris the Cat, of Doggy Style Pet Shop (for Best Store Mascot).

Ruthie Kott

News Tue Aug 24 2010

Tony Trigilio in Mid-American Review!

Chicago poet Tony Trigilio has joined the ranks of writers like Rita Dove and Yusef Komunyakaa -- with his work published in Mid-American Review. Tony is featured in the journal's 30th anniversary issue with a special section of sixteen poems from his newest forthcoming collection, Historic Diary, from BlazeVOX.


Mid-American Review Volume XXX, Numbers 1 & 2


Emily Wong

News Wed Aug 11 2010

Ron Offen (1930-2010)

Ron Offen, the publisher of the former local poetry magazine, Free Lunch, lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday, August 10. Read the announcement from his wife, Beverly, here.

Emily Wong

News Wed Aug 04 2010

Did You Know There's a Poetry magazine Podcast?

Well, there is. Subscribe here to listen to the editors of Poetry magazine talk about their latest issue.

Emily Wong / Comments (1)

News Thu Jul 29 2010

Nine Pages out of The Thousand

Author Kevin Guilfoile's new book The Thousand is due out August 24, but there's an excerpt available now.

The Thousand (excerpt) by Kevin Guilfoile

Andrew Huff

News Mon Jul 26 2010

Hands on Stanzas Online!

The Poetry Center of Chicago is now electronically publishing thousands of poems by their Hands on Stanzas students, who are encouraged to express themselves through poetry. Peruse the 2010 anthology by grade level or by school here.

Emily Wong

News Tue Jul 13 2010

RIP Harvey Pekar, 1939-2010

americansplendor.gif"If he were an X-Man, his special power would be a pronounced ability to bitch and moan on cue." - The Guardian

"He had a huge brain and an even bigger soul. And he was hilarious. He was a great artist, a true American poet, and there is no one to replace him." - Paul Giamatti

Rebecca Hyland / Comments (1)

News Tue Jun 15 2010

Chicago Poets Respond to the Gulf Oil Spill

ChicagoPoetry.com is accepting poems about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on their "State of Emergency: Chicago Poets Respond to Gulf Crisis" page. Check out the poems published so far here. Feel like you need to vent on the crisis, too? Send in some poems for consideration by emailing Publisher@ChicagoPoetry.com. Not from Chicago? No worries -- they're now accepting poems from all over the world.

Emily Wong / Comments (1)

News Tue May 25 2010

Contemporary American Poetry Goes Global

The editors of Poetry Magazine have partnered up with online magazine/archive Poetry International Web (PIW) and will be doin' their thing on the site's USA page. Poetry's first offering will include poems from W.S. DiPiero, Ange Mlinko, and Atsuro Riley. Check out the USA page here.

Emily Wong / Comments (1)

News Thu May 20 2010

Poetry on Your iPhone?

Yet another iPhone app -- just what you need, right? YES! The Poetry Foundation has just announced it's POETRY iPhone app, which turns your iPhone into a mobile poetry library. The app features hundreds of classic and contemporary poems, a searchable poem database, a folder for your favorite poems, and more. Get it for free from the Apple iTunes Store.

Emily Wong

News Tue May 18 2010

Stop Smiling Reading, New Book Announced

listen-to-the-echoes.jpgStop Smiling Books, the publishing house risen from the ashes of the magazine by the same name, will be hosting a reading in its storefront at 1371 N. Milwaukee Ave. this Thursday, May 20, at 7pm. Joshua Cohen, author of Witz, and Jesse Ball, author of Samedi the Deafness and The Way Through Doors, will read, and Cohen will participate in a Q&A with the audience.
The event is free, but they request that you RSVP.

Stop Smiling also announced that their second release will be Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews by journalist, author and lifelong Bradbury fan Sam Weller. Its official release date is June 29.

Andrew Huff

News Fri May 14 2010

Chicago Legend and National Treasure, Remastered for the Digital Age

Beloved author-radio host-actor-activist Studs Terkel is fondly remembered, indeed. Born in 1912 ("I came up the year the Titanic went down"), he lived to be 96 and had a long and prolific career, most notably as the host of "The Studs Terkel Program" on WFMT from 1952 to 1997. In that time, he interviewed almost every important cultural figure there was, including Rosa Parks, Bob Dylan, and Martin Luther King Jr. A young Marlon Brando was said to have been so intrigued with his hour-long interview with Studs that he asked for a second hour. Studs was equally fascinated with everyday people and brought them center stage as well in books such as Division Street: America, Working, and American Dreams; Lost and Found. His legacy is now getting a handsome remastering upgrade: this past Monday a deal was struck between the Library of Congress and the Chicago History Museum, with the generous support of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, to digitize approximately 800 open reel and 1,350 cassette sound recordings of interviews conducted for Terkel's book projects. Approximately 6,000 hours of sound recordings of his radio programs donated to the Museum by Terkel and WFMT radio network in 1998 will also be digitized. What this means for them: approximately two years of work. What this means for you: a goldmine of audio history will soon be available online.

Rebecca Hyland

News Thu May 13 2010

Poetry Promotes Conservation

The Brookfield Zoo is opening a Language of Conservation exhibit that will permanently display poems throughout their Great Bear Wilderness sanctuary. The official opening is May 22 at 10am and will feature Chicago Zoological Society's poet-in-residence Sandra Alcosser, as well as other poets and guest speakers. Go for the poetry, stay for the bears.

Emily Wong

News Mon May 03 2010

Juried Reading Finalists

The Poetry Center of Chicago has announced seven finalists for their 16th Annual Juried Reading Competition -- read about them here. The first through third place winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on May 19, 7:30pm at the SAIC Ballroom (112 S. Michigan). Admission is free.

Emily Wong / Comments (1)

News Thu Apr 22 2010

One Book, Lots of Chicago

Wednesday night's Colm Tóibín talk was way full, to the point of overflow. Thanks to the tip from reader Julie at Publish Chicago.

Ruthie Kott

News Thu Apr 22 2010

New Poetry Foundation Gigs in June 2011

The Poetry Foundation has begun construction of a new home that will be Chicago's first building dedicated solely to the art form of poetry, and the first permanent venue for Poetry magazine in its nearly 100-year history in the city. "This new home will have a dramatic, positive impact on our mission. We will be able to invite new audiences into the world of poetry through our public spaces, expanded programming, and new partnerships," said Poetry Foundation President John Barr. "It will offer to poetry lovers a destination, a physical engagement with the art form." The 22,000-square-foot building is being constructed at the intersection of Dearborn and Superior. The total projected cost for the building, including land acquisition, is $21.5 million. Funding is made possible by the estate of pharmaceutical heiress Ruth Lilly, who often submitted poems to Poetry magazine but was never published there.

Rebecca Hyland

Miscellaneous Sun Apr 18 2010

C2E2 in Pictures

Steampunk and X-Force and Watchmen, oh my: check out some photos from Chicago's newest comic book convention.

Rose Lannin

News Mon Apr 12 2010

Get Capone Through New iPhone App

Best-selling author Jonathan Eig's new book, Get Capone, sheds new light on the criminal investigation leading to the conviction of gang leader Al Capone, through never-before-seen government documents and newly discovered letters written by Capone himself. The book, which last January may have inadvertently helped re-open the 1939 murder case of businessman Edward J. O'Hare, is being promoted through up-to-the-minute technology. Eig wrote an iPhone app, "Chicago Gangland Tour," a guidebook-style app featuring over 600 photos. "With today's technology, you can just stand somewhere, pull out your phone, and know whose blood got spilled on that very spot," he said. Get Capone comes out April 27. Official book release party held Tuesday, April 27 at 7 p.m., at Chicago History Museum, 1601 North Clark Street, $15, $12 members, includes whiskey tasting. Eig will also appear at the Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., on April 28 at 7 p.m.

Rebecca Hyland

News Wed Mar 03 2010

One Book, One -- Brooklyn?

The latest One Book, One Chicago reading selection was announced today, and the Tribune revealed early that it will be Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, a 2009 novel about an Irish immigrant's journey to Brooklyn, New York in the 1950s.

Now, I realize that not every book in the One Book, One Chicago series has a connection to Chicago -- in fact, most of them don't. But something about reading a book about New York brings out the Second City syndrome in me. At any rate, I'm sure this will be a book may will enjoy, and quite a few will relate to.

Tóibín will be talking with Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey on April 21 about his life and work. In addition, Chicago Public Library librarians have created a resource guide and will conduct book discussions across the city at neighborhood libraries, and his spring One Book, One Chicago will also feature an online discussion forum where readers from both Chicago and Ireland will come together for a virtual book club. From March 29 through April 30, a different discussion topic will be introduced each week by a series of guest bloggers, including Chicago writer Patrick Somerville, actor Michael Patrick Thorton and Commissioner Dempsey. It's being produced in collaboration with the Cúirt International Festival of Literature at the Galway Arts Center in Ireland.

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

News Mon Feb 15 2010

Coming to a Theater Near You?

Another past book club selection, Water for Elephants, may be coming to a movie theater near you.

Can you imagine Reese Witherspoon as Marlena and Sean Penn as August?!?

Alice Maggio

News Mon Feb 15 2010

Remembering Salinger

Both Joshua Ferris and Dave Eggers wrote essays for The New Yorker about the place of J.D. Salinger in American literature.

Eggers writes, "And for decades I've wondered what exactly happened to Salinger to drive him away from publishing and people, from much of an active participation in the world. Clearly he was wounded by the attention he received, and I've always wondered exactly what the breaking point was."

Alice Maggio

News Mon Feb 15 2010

The Unnamed: New Novel from Joshua Ferris

Joshua Ferris, the author of our popular book club pick Then We Came To The End, has a new novel out titled The Unnamed. This new book is about Tim Farnsworth, an attorney who is randomly struck by sudden urges to walk until he collapses from exhaustion. Here is a round up of what people are saying about the novel:

So, what do think? Will you be adding The Unnamed to your reading list?

Alice Maggio

News Tue Feb 02 2010

Chicago Underground Library Finds (Yet Another) New Home

The Chicago Underground Library has had a number of homes over the past six years, and it recently added a new address to the list. The library now resides on the second floor at 621 W. Belmont Ave., in part of the Red Tape Theatre's space within St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Lakeview.

If you're not familiar with CUL, it's an open library devoted to independent and small press media produced in the Chicago area. Its holdings include books, magazines, zines, journals, broadsides, newspapers and art books. In some cases, the publications in its collection are the only known remaining copies, making the library an invaluable resource for anyone interested in independent media. If you'd like to peruse the stacks, stop by on a Tuesday between 7 and 9pm or a Saturday between 1 and 5pm, or make an appointment.

Andrew Huff

News Thu Jan 14 2010

Do You Use the Library?

"You may read about how many ebook readers are coming out now -- but we've been offering downloadable collections for years. Did you get a new smartphone? Many libraries offer sites optimized for mobile users, offer answers via text message, and have even created apps for user convenience. We've become a proving ground for new technologies, and those who know us look to librarians for instruction and advice on a variety of digital tools."

Toby Greenwalt, a librarian at the Skokie Public Library, recognizes the gap between regular library users and those who never set foot inside a library. If you are a non-library user, Greenwalt wants to know how libraries can prove their value to you. Read and comment.

Alice Maggio / Comments (3)

News Thu Jan 14 2010

Bookmarks

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jan 06 2010

Bookmarks

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jan 04 2010

Living Oprah Book Out Today

Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk by Robyn Okrant, based on the Chicago-based writer, performer and yoga instructor's year spent living according to advice from our resident queen of all media, made its debut today. Okrant said the experiment was rewarding but ultimately exhausting -- particularly when Oprah contradicted herself:

Whereas most viewers regard Winfrey's directives as merely enthusiastic suggestions, Okrant took them literally, which at one point made her the owner of a fire pit from Lowe's.

While promoting a variety of products during her 2008 season, Winfrey also spent considerable time encouraging viewers to soak up the wisdom of Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, which reminds people they are not what they own.

Winfrey's shows that season also featured ongoing segments on the plight of hoarders and tips on cutting down on clutter featuring de-clutter expert Peter Walsh.

The message was murky. Do you buy the items Winfrey says will improve your life? Or do you remember you are not defined by your possessions, and that you probably don't need many of them, anyway?

Okrent's blog about living according to Oprah's rules is still active at LivingOprah.com. She plans to transform it into a blog about "facing habits head on" starting this week.

Andrew Huff

News Thu Dec 10 2009

More than One Way to Burn a Book

This story that we reported on in June has come to a sad close: the New York Times reports that, despite his best efforts, Ray Bradbury has failed to save the H.P. Wright Library in Ventura, CA. The library closed on November 30 due to lack of funds. Add this to the list of ways you can burn a book.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Dec 07 2009

20 Off of 20

20best.jpgSpeaking of "best of" books, 57th St. Books is offering 20% their own 20 favorite books of 2009 for the first 20 days of the month. Titles include Stitches by David Small, Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr and Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon. You've got 13 days left to head down to Hyde Park and save on some of this year's great reads.

Veronica Bond

News Wed Nov 25 2009

Open Books Grand Opening Wrap-Up

If you did not get the chance to see the new Open Books used bookstore at their grand opening this weekend, I highly recommend that you do get over there to see it when you get a chance. It is one of the most colorful stores you will ever walk into, with shelves painted in every shade imaginable and only one white wall in the entire place. The well-priced book selection is top notch, too, and I picked up a couple of our upcoming Book Club selections while I was there as well as some much talked about reads that have been on my wishlist for some time now. On the iridescent stage at the back of the store, I managed to survive my first time moderating author panels, though that was due largely in part to the sheer wonderfulness of the authors I had the privilege of working with. In all probability you can look forward to seeing more of those sort of events in the future. I can honestly say that this has been one of the most worthwhile experiences I have ever been involved with and I admit that, in recommending the store, I may be biased at this point. In that case, here are some other takes on the store and the Open Books mission because, as the unforgettable yet now sadly defunct "Reading Rainbow" would say, you don't have to take my word for it!

Newcity: "The store's multicolored walls with inspirational and clever quotes like 'He that loves reading has everything within his reach' resemble a painting of easter eggs, and ubiquitous shelves of purple, orange, green, pink and blue stand in ordered chaos, all of which can hold up to 60,000 books in total."

• The Chicago Tribune: "[Becca Keaty], partner Stacy Ratner and an army of volunteers have been working long hours for several months hauling, sorting, shelving and cataloging 130,000 used books in preparation for the opening this weekend at 213 Institute Place. The Open Books bookstore will look and operate like any other except that proceeds will fund literacy programs for children and adults in the same building. It's the next step for the organization founded three years ago to run programs aimed at improving reading and writing skills."

• Robert Duffer at Time Out Chicago: "Just as Open Books changed the model for nonprofits into something that can be both 'fun and fundamental,' as [Stacy] Ratner likes to say, the bookstore is not the stuff of dusty shelves and creeping cats. It's a rainbow-hued literary Wonka Wonderworld."

• Robert Duffer, more candidly, at the Examiner: "It is, without hyperbole, the most exciting literary news in the city and for the city since...I don't know...Obama's election. I know it sounds absurd but I can't come up with anything else that matches my excitement and support."

Additionally, for a peek at the store, take a look at the Flickr stream of the grand opening.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Nov 24 2009

Granta Chicago Issue a Fast Seller

It's been a good two months since Granta unleashed their all-Chicago issue and, according to the Tribune, the issue is Granta's fastest selling one. Most impressive is the article's note that Granta editor John Freeman worked specifically to give our independent bookstores a boost by dropping off boxes of the magazine at such stores, resulting in sales of 3,500 copies in 17 independent bookstores during the magazine's first three weeks of availability. That's some Chicago bookstore love, baby. Still not sure what all of the hubbub is about? Here you can listen to a panel discussion from Granta's London debut featuring contributors Dinaw Mengestu, Maria Venegas and Neil Steinberg and editor Freeman.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Nov 17 2009

Dave Eggers Loves Newspapers

The Guardian has an interview with Dave Eggers on the San Francisco Panorama, the broadsheet that will work as the forthcoming issue of McSweeney's. Says Eggers on his optimism for the printed word:

I love papers. There's a downbeat atmosphere about the future of the form so we thought we could demonstrate some things newspapers do uniquely well: the main way they can continue to exist is to differentiate themselves as much as possible from the internet...Paper is a uniquely beautiful format, more so than the web, I think: you need to invest in the aesthetics. We're resurrecting practices from 100 years ago - like printing full-page comics. We want to give young people ways to engage with it, feel ownership of it.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Nov 12 2009

New David Sedaris Audio

David Sedaris has a new audio book slated for release on November 24, but there will be no physical book accompanying it. Live for Your Listening Pleasure is a collection of recordings from Sedaris's most recent American tour and was conceived as an audio-only work. Head over to Entertainment Weekly to listen to an exclusive clip of the new work.

Veronica Bond

Awards Thu Nov 05 2009

Obama Honors Young Chicago Authors

young chicago authors.JPGThe Young Chicago Authors program will soon travel to Washington, D.C. to receive the 2009 Coming Up Taller Award, to be bestowed on them by Michelle Obama. The Coming Up Taller Award is a project of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities that recognizes and supports after-school and extra-curricular arts and humanities programs for children, honoring "programs that offer exceptional learning experiences in the arts and the humanities and that have a tangible effect on the lives of young people as evidenced through improved academic scores, enhanced life skills, and positive relationships with peers and adults." As written in their mission statement, YCA "encourages self-expression and literacy through creative writing, performance and publication," with programs geared toward ages 13-19 that feature, among other things, poetry slams, a female-oriented webzine called "GirlSpeak" and the opportunity to be published in their own print magazine "Say What." Says Dr. Robert Boone, founder of YCA, in a press release, "Young Chicago Authors is deeply honored to accept this award on behalf of all of the young people and teachers who have made creative writing a living part of Chicago." Congratulations to everyone who has put their time and hard work into the program--the award is undoubtedly well-deserved.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Nov 02 2009

Become a Part of Open Books

ob grand opening.gifAlmost literally. Open Books's grand opening for the used bookstore and literacy center is just a few weeks away, but you can still get in on any of their numerous ways to become a part of their store. Dedicate a fireplace tile to a book or a person you love, buy a bookshelf in honor of a fabulous reader in your life, or make a donation by becoming an official Open Books member and get a load of goodies, including a nifty T-shirt and discounts on store merchandise. Then come to the store on November 21-22 for a rousing weekend of literary events to help celebrate the store's opening. Stay tuned for details on who and what will be going on that weekend.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Oct 23 2009

New Shel Silverstein Audio Book

underwater land.jpgCory Doctorow reports that a new CD of Shel Silverstein poetry and music is being released. His take on the new material? "[T]his is some seriously awesome kids' music, full of Silverstein's flawless, legendary rhyme, his wicked humor, and some damned fine music and playing beneath it. It's fast, witty, and full of jokes that work on levels that can be appreciated by pre-verbal toddlers...by kids, and by adults, who will appreciate the snatches of extremely grown-up jokes woven into the whimsy."

Veronica Bond

News Thu Oct 22 2009

Kanye to Be Third-Time Author

Kanye West is a proud non-reader of books and yet he is about to publish his third. Yeah, I'm scratching my head at that one, too. The new book, Through the Wire, is described as a graphic memoir illustrating twelve of West's songs: "From his decision to drop out of college to pursue his dreams in music, through his days spent folding chinos at The Gap while struggling at night to make a name as a producer, through the pivotal car accident that eventually set him on the course to stardom and the epiphany of realizing exactly who he had become." Hmm...somehow I don't think I'll be lining up at the bookstore to purchase that when it comes out.

Veronica Bond

News Wed Oct 07 2009

Chicago Literary Hall of Fame

The Chicago Writers Association has been working on a project to shine the spotlight on our city's literary greats: the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. This week they launched a new website to introduce their inaugural nominees, many of which faithful Book Club readers will be familiar with. The list boasts such names as Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, Lorraine Hansberry, Norman McLean, Studs Terkel and many others whose contributions have significantly affected Chicago. Nominators include a flurry of current literary notables, such as Booklist's Donna Seaman, Lake Claremont Press's Sharon Woodhouse and our own Alice Maggio (whoo!) and on the judges panel sit more Book Club selection authors, such as Achy Obejas and Stuart Dybek. The judges will select six of the nominees to be inducted into the 2010 Hall of Fame, though the selection date doesn't seem to be posted on the website yet. Nevertheless, take a moment to browse through the nominees and reacquaint yourself with writers you've read in the past and get acquainted with writers that have escaped your literary eye. The full list of nominees is, as expected, impressive and the project will do well to uphold their mission of "promot[ing] and celebrat[ing] Chicago's rich literary tradition."

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Fri Oct 02 2009

Chicago Authors Kill Dan Brown

OK, not literally. But in terms of sales figures, it seems that local authors have a greater influence on the Chicago book buying public than market darling Dan Brown. Granta recently wrote in a press release that reports from Unabridged Bookstore favored the magazine's Chicago issue over Brown's The Lost Symbol two-to-one. Says Ed Devereux of Unabridged: "Copies of GRANTA 108 are flying off the shelves. We've restocked three times already. It's even outselling Dan Brown!" Such loyalty to our city's authors is heartening, indeed.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Oct 02 2009

National Reading Group Month

reading group month.gifDid you know that October is National Reading Group Month? Only two years old, the celebration was started by two members of the Women's National Book Association and works to promote the value of books and reading, particularly "enjoyment of shared reading and appreciation of literature and reading as conduits for transmitting culture and advancing civic engagement." To which I say, right on. Unfortunately, there isn't a Chicago chapter so there won't be any National Reading Group events here, but that doesn't mean you can't take their mission to heart and get involved in shared reading on your own. If reading Chicago-related books isn't your thing, or if your schedule doesn't work with ours, there are a ton of other reading groups in the city with a variety of foci. Our Book Club home, the Book Cellar, hosts their own book club meetings each month and plays host to a number of other book clubs as well--if you're interested in South Asian writers, the Desi Lit Book Club might be for you; if you enjoy young adult reads, check out the Never Too Old Book Club. Women and Children First has a long running book club that focuses on feminist reads and the Chicago Public Library, in addition to hosting the One Book, One Chicago program, offers a number of different book clubs for both teens and adults throughout their various branches. Or, get together your friends, family, co-workers or other interested parties and start your own club. The NRGM website features a list of Great Group Reads to help you get the ball rolling.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Oct 02 2009

Join the Chicago Publishers Gallery

publishers gallery.jpgOn Amy Guth's Chicago Subtext blog, Danielle Chapman, the Director of Literary Arts and Events at the Cultural Center, wrote a post detailing the Center's plans to expand the Chicago Publishers Gallery, a well-honed collection of books from local authors and publishers in celebration of the city's contribution to literature. Chapman offered her email address for anyone who would like to be included in the Gallery, so if you're a local author or you publish books in Chicago and want to be considered for inclusion in this display, now's your chance to voice your enthusiasm.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Sep 29 2009

Northwestern Journal Goes Digital

TQ 134 Cover.jpegNorthwestern sent out a press release last week announcing, among other things, that Northwestern University Press's literary journal TriQuarterly will forgo their print editions for an online-only format starting next year. Says Sarah Pritchard, Charles Deering McCormick University Library, "This move will align publishing efforts more closely with the University's academic enterprise while at the same time expanding electronic dissemination and public access to the wonderful literature and essays that are published in TriQuarterly." The conversion to digital seems to also have come at the hands of the hard economic times: "After a year of significant economic setbacks, the Press has undergone a careful review. The University has reaffirmed its commitment to the dissemination of scholarship as part of its academic mission. The Press will be a more efficient operation and we will deepen our alliances with the University's academic programs while moving forward with the delivery of content in a digital format. There undoubtedly will be challenges, but it also should be a time of exciting opportunities."

Veronica Bond

News Tue Sep 29 2009

Generosity News

Audrey Niffenegger isn't the only local author with a highly anticipated novel coming out. This week also brings us Generosity: An Enhancement by Richard Powers. The press is mixed: the Tribune gives a positive sounding plot synopsis, the Complete Review calls the story "conventional and simple" but successful in "story-telling," and Slate comes out swinging with a subtitle that reads "What Richard Powers' new novel gets wrong." Yikes. Well, it won't be but a few days before you can judge for yourself how the novel stacks up. In the meantime you can get a taste of the story in this excerpt at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

One final item, something that those of you who attended our September discussion of The Echo Maker and had less than glowing opinions of the book may appreciate: Scott at Conversational Reading has no intention of reading the new novel at all. Says Scott, "The more Powers I've read the more I've realized that he goes to pains to make everything extremely clear, to the point that his work is very over-written. This often combines with a tendency to phrase things in a quasi-oblique/quasi-scientific manner that just ends up sounding adolescent. With his ability to link concepts and come up with original ideas, Powers could probably be a strong essayist, but he's not a novelist."

Harsh words, indeed, but I can see how they would apply (and I was part of the minority that did enjoy The Echo Maker). I'll be interested to see if Generosity merits such criticisms when I get the chance to crack it open.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Sep 28 2009

Happy Anniversary Women & Children First!

wc1st_pink2.jpgFeminist independent bookstore Women & Children First celebrates thirty years of business this week. The Sun-Times talks to owners Ann Christophersen and Linda Burbon and explicates what makes this bookstore so great. (Come help them celebrate this milestone at their 30th Anniversary Gala on Saturday.)

Veronica Bond

News Mon Sep 28 2009

Her Fearful Symmetry News

Tomorrow is the release date for Audrey NIffenegger's highly anticipated (and worth the hype, I might add) Her Fearful Symmetry. Here's what a few of the reviews are saying:

New York Times: "Lovers of Niffenegger's past work should rejoice. This outing may not be as blindly romantic as "The Time Traveler's Wife," but it is mature, complex and convincing -- a dreamy yet visceral tale of loves both familial and erotic, a search for Self in the midst of obsession with an Other. 'Her Fearful Symmetry' is as atmospheric and beguiling as a walk through Highgate itself."

Chicago Tribune: "Her Fearful Symmetry is at its best in its early pages, when Niffenegger gives herself room to present her cast of characters; there are some charming descriptions, particularly of these odd, wan mirror twins. The author's love for and deep research into Highgate is also apparent, as when she writes of the cemetery 'spread out in the moonlight like a soft grey hallucination, a stony wilderness of Victorian melancholy.' Not a deep meditation, the novel requires its readers to thoroughly suspend their disbelief and to go along for the haunted ride."

Also in the Tribune: Riding the 'L' with Audrey.

Sun-Times: "In this effective and very haunted ghost story, Niffenegger raises compelling questions about identity, the long-lasting power of love and the consequences of imposing one's will on others. And while the ending may not be totally satisfying, Her Fearful Symmetry manages to remain a beautiful testament to Niffenegger's fertile imagination and love of storytelling."

Also in the Sun-Times: An interview with Audrey about the new book and what we can expect from her next.

Veronica Bond

Book Club Fri Sep 25 2009

All the Single Ladies

reading is sexy.jpgAnd all the single men! Hold your books up--according to the Sun-Times, the GB Book Club is the #2 way to meet your lover. Reading is sexy, indeed.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Fri Sep 25 2009

Bookmarks

Veronica Bond

News Thu Sep 24 2009

McSweeney's iPhone App

iPhonePreview.jpgMcSweeney's is jumping into the e-reader game with their own iPhone app, called the "Small Chair." The app will bring readers weekly selections from McSweeney's publications, including the quarterly magazine, the Believer and Wholpin. Spike Jonze, Wells Tower, Chris Ware and Jonathan Ames are all slated to be early contributors. It's $5.99 for the app and a six month subscription. Need more incentive to download the app? This content won't be available online.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Sep 18 2009

Bookmarks


Veronica Bond

News Thu Sep 17 2009

More Literary Award News

Granta reports that Aleksandar Hemon has been awarded the 2009 inaugural St. Francis College Literary Prize for Love and Obstacles. The award grants the winner $50,000 and is judged by such notables as Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem and Ayelet Waldman.

GalleyCat reports that Patrick Somerville's novel The Cradle has been named a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. The prize awards $10,000 to the winner and nominees are submitted by librarians, staff and members of The Center.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Wed Sep 16 2009

Dave Eggers to Receive Literarian Award

A press release announced yesterday that Dave Eggers will be awarded the National Book Foundation's Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community for his work as an author, a co-founder of independent publisher McSweeney's and a co-founder of 826 Valencia. The Award is presented to a person who demonstrates "outstanding service to the American literary community, whose life and work exemplify the goals of the National Book Foundation to expand the audience for literature and to enhance the cultural value of literature in America. " The Award will be presented on November 18 where Gore Vidal will be awarded the 2009 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Sep 15 2009

Kanye West is Not a Fan of Books

While the media is still up in arms about local boy Kanye West's asshattery at the VMAs, The Millions takes this opportunity to point us to their Open Letter to Kanye West, written in June of this year. The subject of the letter is Kanye's comment that he is "not a fan of books" and "a proud non-reader of books" and the irony of the publication of his own, sparsely worded book, Thank You and You're Welcome. A sampling:

Just a heads-up here: Not only does the inherent irony at play in these words make you appear unintelligent, which you obviously aren't, but you have also undermined the privilege of living in a country in which we can read anything and everything we choose or, as in your unfortunate case, nothing at all. Though you may be a self-proclaimed "proud non-reader," surely you cannot be proud of rallying others to follow you in this non-ambition...how could you, the son of an English professor no less, say something so destructive, so moronically conceived, and so contrary to the vaguely youth-centric message of your own music? I ask this question in seriousness and with all the respect I can summon, which admittedly isn't much at the moment.

Jeff Hobbs, the author of this letter, goes on to quite eloquently and unfalteringly rip Kanye a literary new one. To which I can only say: Right on. (And don't forget to read the original Reuters article Hobbs quotes, in which Kanye makes himself out to be ridiculous and absurd. Not that that's anything new.)

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Tue Sep 15 2009

Bookless Libraries

Here's an unfortunate aspect of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 come to life: a boarding school library in Massachusetts is getting rid of all of their books to stock the library, which will be called a "learning center," with flat screen TVs, cubicles for laptop use and e-readers. Says the school's Headmaster, James Tracy, in an interview with the Boston Globe, "When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books...This isn't 'Fahrenheit 451.' We're not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology."

I'm not sure which saddens me more, the fact that the headmaster of a school is calling books "outdated technology" or that he claims the removal of books is not discouraging students from reading. But, Alexander Coyle, the school's history department chairman, who does use the Kindle but also refers to libraries as "secular cathedrals," had this to say about the change: "I wouldn't want to ever get rid of any of my books at home. I like the feel of them too much. A lot us are wondering how this changes the dignity of the library, and why we can't move to increase digital resources while keeping the books.'' Good question.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Sep 10 2009

Bookmarks

Veronica Bond

News Wed Sep 09 2009

Disgrace Movie Preview

I have a vague memory of us talking about an upcoming movie when we read J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace back in November of 2007, but I had completely forgotten about it until I saw this. John Malkovich makes a perfect David Lurie, don't you think?

Veronica Bond

News Wed Sep 09 2009

Granta 312 Subscription Discount

More good news from Granta: In honor of the "Chicago" issue, they're offering a discount on new subscriptions to the magazine. Instead of the usual $45 yearly subscription, all of us here in the 312 can currently get a full year for $31.20. (You can still get it if you're in the 773 or the 847 or the 630, etc., but those numbers wouldn't have made for much of a discount.) Jump on it while it's hot!

Veronica Bond

News Fri Sep 04 2009

Neil Steinberg in Granta

Gearing up for their all-Chicago issue, Granta directs us to a 2005 essay by Neil Steinberg, published in issue 89, titled "Fancy Lamps":

From the street, the factory housing the Frederick Cooper Lamp Company is not as ugly as most. The building was originally a ladies undergarment plant, built around 1900; it has a courtyard and windows, luxuries that would later be dispensed with in most factories. The four-storey brick building, with a square tower double that height, is a reminder that a factory was once the centrepiece of a neighbourhood, second only to the local church. The tower, like a steeple, catches the eye; it advertises the product with a sign informing the 260,000 cars that pass every day along the Kennedy Expressway leading out of Chicago that Cooper produces LAMPS OF ELEGANCE.

Steinberg is a contributer to Granta's upcoming issue 108. And, if you're interested in reading some more of his work, you can also check out his review of Dave Eggers's Zeitoun in Wednesday's Sun-Times.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Sep 03 2009

Bookmarks

Veronica Bond

News Wed Sep 02 2009

Free Lit through CellStories

Hot on the heels of Featherproof's Triple Quick Fiction announcement, comes CellStories, a website that will deliver a new short story every weekday to web-enabled cell phones. According to Reuters, the website was created by Dan Sinker, a journalism teacher at Columbia College, whose motivation was to experiment with digital reading. The stories are not device specific, so they get around the Kindle-posed problem of only being able to read your downloaded literature in one way. Stories will consist of fiction, personal essays, creative non-fiction and narrative journalism and are meant to be a 10-15 minute read. Fellow Columbia faculty member Joe Meno has already promised to contribute his talents to the project. What will this mean for the future of both digital and printed literature? No one's really sure yet, but it does promise to introduce writers to new readers, which may encourage them to purchase published works. That can only be a good thing.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Sep 01 2009

Granta 108: "Chicago"

Granta's forthcoming issue is dedicated entirely to the city of Chicago, something they've done only once before with issue 65's dedication to London authors. It's a bit thrilling that this British literary magazine would take notice of all the wonderful writing that comes out of our city, out of all the cities in the US, but it is, of course, a notice that we feel is entirely warranted. Contributing authors include a slew of Book Club selection authors: Aleksandar Hemon, Sandra Cisneros, Stuart Dybek, Nelson Algren and many more. Here, Granta acting editor John Freeman gives a sneak peek of what will be in the issue, available September 22. And be sure to check our events sidebar as next week Granta will bring us a number of literary events in celebration of this issue.

granta 108.jpg

Cover by Chris Ware

Veronica Bond

News Tue Sep 01 2009

Blagojevich Book News

governor.jpgThe big news this morning is that Rod Blagojevich's book, The Governor, is out for early sale at some bookstores. I watched an amusing story about it on WGN in which people interviewed said that they would mainly read the book for entertainment value, but not much more. Apparently, the former Gov likens his plight to a Shakespearean trajedy, comparing himself to the characters of Othello, King Lear and Julius Caesar. (It's interesting that he leaves out Macbeth, isn't it?) The Sun-Times has the scoop on what's in the tell-all and a couple of quotes on notable Chicago figures as well. No word on which bookstores have the book in early, but if you're chomping at the bit to get your hands on a copy, fret not as it will be officially released next Tuesday, September 8.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Aug 28 2009

Making Money on Michael

Remember when HarperCollins said they weren't going to cash in on Michael Crichton's death? I guess Steven Spielberg didn't get that memo because he's already planning on making a film of the as-yet-unpublished, unfinished novel, Pirate Latitudes. Yeah, there's no money to be had in that at all.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Aug 27 2009

Bookmarks

Veronica Bond

News Tue Aug 25 2009

Obama's Summer Reading

The media is all a-flutter over which books Barack Obama is bringing on his summer vacation. The Guardian breaks it down title-by-title for us.

Elsewhere, a nice photo of Obama signing his books at an event in Chicago:

obama signing.jpg

Veronica Bond

News Tue Aug 25 2009

Speculations on Oprah's Next Pick

Apparently Oprah tweeted last night on what her next book club selection would be, saying she had never made a selection like "this." What's "this"? GalleyCat does some research and comes up with a few guesses. Anyone have any guesses of their own? The selection will be revealed on September 18.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Aug 24 2009

The Interpretation of Oz

A new biography of L. Frank Baum is hitting the shelves, this time with a particular spin on looking at his classic children's tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Author Rebecca Loncraine is imparting a Freudian take on Oz to explain how Baum dreamed up his wonderland in the first place. According to this New York Times review, Loncraine is not the first biographer to attempt to do so, saying, "It does not take Freud's insight to find origins of Oz's Emerald City in the famous White City built for the 1893 World's Fair." But the reviewer does describe the book as one revealing the numerous influences on Oz's creation and the subsequent failure of the author to live "happily ever after," making it more interesting than other biographies who have cut Baum's life story short.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Aug 24 2009

A Real Case of Capgras

Those of you reading Richard Powers's The Echo Maker with us will be interested in reading this very recent New York Times article that Alice brought to my attention. While The Echo Maker's Mark Schluter's misidentification disorder is trauma induced, the mysterious Capgras syndrome is usually found absent of trauma. However, this article follows a 19-year-old named Adam, convinced that his mother is a fake and doesn't "live in the real world," whose own Capgras was the result of a motorcycle accident much like Mark's near-fatal car accident. The article gives some good outside information that will help shed a little bit of light on what, for most of us, is a completely unheard of syndrome and lend some credibility to Powers's story.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Aug 21 2009

Birthday Wishes for Bradbury

Happy Birthday to Ray Bradbury! The prolific and beloved author turns 89 tomorrow. If you're a fan of Chicago lit living in California, don't forget that you can attend his birthday party at the Mystery and Imagination bookstore in Glendale.

Also of note, Bradbury has a new story, titled "The Juggernaut," published in the Saturday Evening Post.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Aug 21 2009

Triple Quick Fiction iPhone App

This makes me feel old, in a you-kids-and-your-new-fangled-communication-devices kind of way. Featherproof Books has announced the release of the Triple Quick Fiction iPhone app, an application that allows you to download new stories to your iPhone or iPod. The "Triple Quick" name does, in part, refer to the quick attainment of the stories, but also to the length of the stories, only 333 words long, or 3 iPhone screens. This seems like the logical next step from Featherproof's downloadable mini-books, which are also a quick, free way to get the latest stories from the current hot authors, but the app takes things one step further. Not only can you read the stories Featherproof makes available, but you can also compose your own stories and submit them to Featherproof's editors. The app will be available in September, just in time for all the back-to-school hoopla to get you thinking about readin' and writin' again. Meanwhile, I'm going to go listen to three songs I've managed to upload to my store brand mp3 player.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Thu Aug 20 2009

Bookmarks

Veronica Bond

News Mon Aug 17 2009

The Illustrated Man & the Plot to Save the Literary World

Speaking of Ray Bradbury (and really, when am I not?), publisher Macmillan has a video on their website of the author discussing the graphic novel adaptation of Fahrenheit 451. He calls himself "The Illustrated Man," which is so wonderfully fitting here, and reveals that two more of his most famous novels - Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Martian Chronicles - are slated to receive the graphic novel treatment in the near future.

In other news, this reviewer at Slate doesn't seem to think too highly of the new Fahrenheit 451, saying that the graphic novel "reads like a joke" and that it is ironic that a novel about book burning has now become a shortened version of itself. Now, I'd be the first person to jump up and defend a watering down of any book, especially when it comes to my beloved Bradbury, so I do think the reviewer missed the point here. To say that this is a contribution to the end of print is to say, essentially, that graphic novels are a detriment to literature and I just don't believe that to be true. Nor does Mr. Bradbury, if you recall this post here. It's simply a different medium, one not comparable to the picture stories of the original novel that were created so that no one would have to read the news, a comparison that this reviewer makes. "It's hard to know what on earth Bradbury was thinking. Did he just give in to the enemy?" the reviewer asks. "Is Bradbury saying that it's back to pictographs to save the literary world?" What's hard to know is just where the disdain for the comic form comes from for this reviewer, but I'd venture to say that for Bradbury, as it is for all of his fans, this is really just another way to experience the novel, not a replacement for it, nor a "giving in" to an illiterate enemy nor a plot to "save the literary world." But that's just my opinion, that of a lover of literature who loves her graphic novels, too.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Aug 17 2009

Do Graphic Androids Dream of Cartoon Sheep?

do andoids.jpgFollowing in the footsteps of Tim Hamilton's adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, comes a graphic novel adaptaion of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The novel, which will be published in a series of volumes, will mix comics with the full original text of Dick's novel and, according to Publisher's Weekly, is not just a retelling of Blade Runner, the movie based on this book that incorporated significant changes. The first issue of the comic is out now, with 24 issues expected for the series run and six hardcover collections to be published later, each containing four issues.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Aug 07 2009

Bookmarks

  • NPR's All Things Considered discusses the new graphic novel adaptation of Fahrenheit 451. Also, an excerpt of the graphic novel.
  • The Library of America has just published a new volume of Philip K. Dick's stories, titled VALIS and Later Novels. The San Francisco Chronicle discusses Dick's life and the stories in the new volume, saying, "What this volume ultimately tells us is that Dick was not a science fiction writer, but instead he was our writer."
  • A quartet of reviews of Philip Roth's Indignation: the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph and the Guardian again. (The Brits love themselves some Roth, huh?)
  • Publisher's Weekly reports that Crocodile Pie, a children's bookstore in Libertyville, will close on August 14. Also of note (as previously reported), Borders on Michigan Ave. is slated for closure in January.
  • The National Book Foundation recently remembered Saul Bellow's winning book Herzog. Blogger Ron Fields remembers it too, describing it as "a towering literary achievement that is at once a mundane account of an intellectual dealing with his wife's incomprehensible betrayal, and the tragic loss of his marriage and family life, and also a life-affirming manifesto about finding the strength and devotion to try to move on and rebuild one's life after a divorce."
  • Catch a podcast of local lit blogger Pete Anderson reading his short story "One Son Resists" at this year's Emerging Writer's Festival.
  • Also on Publisher's Weekly (you have to scroll down a bit), here are a couple of small reviews of Chicago-related reads, one by Dominic A. Pacyga titled Chicago: A Biography and the other featuring Adam Langer's upcoming book My Father's Bonus March, both non-fiction reads.
  • Does reading about physics really get you going? The University of Chicago Press's recent publication, Fermilab: Physics, the Frontier, and Megascience might be for you. (Okay, I have to admit that learning more about the Fermilab does somewhat appeal to me.)
  • A comparison of William Faulkner and Aleksandar Hemon.
  • Half Deserted Streets give another glowing review of Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry: "If you're a fan of her previous novel, you won't be disappointed with this next one." I'm very much looking forward to getting this, myself.
  • We start with Bradbury and we end with Bradbury: a podcast of one sci-fi fan's thoughts on Fahrenheit 451.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Fri Aug 07 2009

The Reader Reads Audrey

The Reader catches up with Audrey Niffenegger to discuss her upcoming book, Her Fearful Symmetry, the beauty of working in Chicago vs. the city's lack of recognition abroad, and her visual art. But not the upcoming Time Traveler's Wife film. It seems that she's taking the Alan Moore stance, saying only that she wasn't a part of the adaptation.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Aug 04 2009

The Wizard of Oz: Book vs. Movie

wizard_title_page.jpgAnthony Horowitz of the Telegraph writes that he hated the movie version of The Wizard of Oz as a child. He notes that there are vast differences between the book and the movie, and those of us who read the book in August 2008 will certainly agree. Here Horowitz expounds on L. Frank Baum's life, revealing him to be a failure at several careers and something of a white supremacist (wasn't aware of that one myself), and explores what makes Oz such a fascinating world. Says Horowitz on one of the major differences between the movie and the book:

...the storytelling is surprisingly violent. The film gave us the winged monkeys but spared us the wild crows, sent out by the Wicked Witch with the command: 'Peck out their eyes and tear them to pieces!' Forty of them are strangled by the Scarecrow who is probably not singing while he does it, while in the same chapter 40 wolves are decapitated by the Tin Man.

Forty wolves and 40 crows. I'm not sure those numbers are accidental for it seems to me that the books could have been almost purposefully in the style of the Bible. We are given as much detail about Oz as we are about the Garden of Eden. God-like archetypes - the wizard in particular - loom over the action. Things happen because they must.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Aug 04 2009

Ray Bradbury Loves Graphic Novels

USA Today interviews Ray Bradbury about the upcoming publication of the graphic novel version of Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury says he can imagine "someone giving it to a 10-year-old kid who then wants to read the original novel. That's what good graphic novels can do. They can make you read more." He's not worried that kids will only look at the pictures because, from his own experience with illustrated novels, they only increase kids' desires for learning to read. Bradbury also commented on the idea of a new film version of the book, saying that the 1966 François Truffaut film downplayed one of the main characters (that being just one of the problems, in my opinion) and he'd love to see a new version with Sean Connery as Beatty and Nicolas Cage as Montag (ooh...don't know about that Nicolas Cage part, but this movie is definitely itching to be remade).

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Thu Jul 30 2009

Bookmarks

  • John Schwenkler at The American Scene thinks Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree is one of the worst children's books ever. Commenters debate heartily.
  • NPR discusses Dave Eggers's Zeitoun.
  • Joshua Ferris has a new story, "The Valetundinarian," in this week's New Yorker.
  • NPR talks to Achy Obejas about her latest book, Ruins.
  • Keir Graff of Booklist Online points to a video of local young adult author Dan Kraus talking with AL Focus about his upcoming novel The Monster Variations.
  • More from Keir Graff: An audio file of the recent "Books and Blogs: Made for Each Other?" forum that took place in Chicago earlier this month.
  • The Newberry Library thanks your for your Book Fair patronage, but not for ripping off the cover of the first volume of that Samuel Johnson biography or for donating your stereos, VCRS and adding machines.
  • The Guardian pans a musical on Ernest Hemingway that's closing four weeks early, saying it "doesn't even fall into the so-bad-it's-good category."
  • According to the Sun-Times, Amazon is offering a discount on pre-orders for Rod Blagojevich's book, The Governor. Or, you can always line up at the bookstores at midnight, à la Harry Potter.
  • More shameless author self-promotion, this time by Marcus Sakey, author of the upcoming The Amateurs who is offering prizes (signed hardcover books!) for people commenting, tweeting and...facebooking?...answers to his daily "Ready, Go" question. Full list of rules and prizes here.
  • Start placing those Booker bets -- JM Coetzee's Summertime is the favorite to win the prize.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Jul 28 2009

Man Booker Prize Longlist Announced

summertime.gifThe Man Booker Prize longlist was announced today and it includes JM Coetzee for Summertime. Coetzee previously won the prize in 1983 for Life & Times of Michael K and in 1999 for Disgrace, our November 2007 selection. Coetzee is one of only two novelists to have ever won the Booker Prize twice. See the full list of nominationed authors and their works here.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Jul 28 2009

Texas Man Wins Hemingway Look-Alike Contest

Need I say more?

hemingway look-alikes.jpg

[Photo courtesy of Reuters.]

Veronica Bond

News Tue Jul 28 2009

Best of Chicago Lit

The latest issue of Chicago Magazine gives some love to local writers. Not only do they do a nice little write-up of Marcus Sakey, author of the recently published The Amateurs, they also name Nami Mun, author of Miles from Nowhere, as Best New Novelist and Sara Paretsky, author of our March 2008 selection Fire Sale, as Best Mystery Writer.

Not to be outdone, the U of C Press toots their own horn (not that there's anything wrong with that...horns are good) and points to some of their authors and publications that have recently been mentioned in the news.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jul 27 2009

Prairie Avenue Bookshop to Close

pabookshop.jpgBlair Kamin reports in the Tribune that Prairie Avenue Bookshop, purveyors of architecture related literature, will close on September 1st unless a buyer for the shop can be found. According to Kamin's article, the owners are blaming the 10.25% sales tax for contributing to their declining sales. Says owner Wilbert Hasbrouck: "People would come to the bookshop with their notepad, make notes of what they wanted and then go buy it somewhere else." But Kamin raises another question, crucial to the potential success of this and other independent shops like it: Can they survive in the digital age? Says Matt Stromberg of William Stout Architectural Books in San Francisco: "Fifty years ago, you couldn't find normal architectural books anywhere. Now you can find them everywhere--for a discount. ... Why would you buy that $200 book from us when you could get it almost 40 percent off, free shipping and no tax?"

Prarie Avenue Bookshop is located at 418 S. Wabash St. Visit them while you still can.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Jul 24 2009

U of C Press Goes Electronic

phoenix.JPGLast week, the University of Chicago Press announced that they are now offering over 700 titles in e-book format. The U of C is one of several universities pondering the e-book route. The cost for downloading the books varies depending on how long the purchaser intends to keep the book, which is kind of nice for students who know they won't need to hold onto their first year chemistry textbook for the rest of their lives. Although, I imagine there'd be far less satisfaction in finally trashing that copy of the Marx-Engels Reader that you were forced to carry around for multiple classes. Not that I, um, did that.

Also of note, love the portability of the e-book but miss that real book smell? Fret no longer.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Jul 24 2009

Hemingway & Sedaris "Not Appropriate for Developing Minds"

Today in here's-why-we-still-need-Banned-Books-Week news: A school board member at a high school in New Hampshire wants short stories by Ernest Hemingway and David Sedaris, as well as two other stories by Stephen King and Laura Lippman, removed from the reading list of an upper-level English class. The school's principal removed the stories from the class reading list after a group of parents complained about the "mature themes," saying they were not appropriate "for developing minds that are very impressionable," only to have that decision protested by another group of parents and students and have the English Department head resign. The Hemingway story is, as you might guess as it's frequently targeted for its supposed impropriety, "Hills Like White Elephants." The story is thought to be about abortion, although the word appears nowhere in the very short text and, honestly, I never thought it was about abortion until it was suggested to me and I had to concede that, of the many things it could possibly be about, abortion might be one. The Sedaris story in question is "I Like Guys," which, as Book Club members might recall from our discussion of Naked, is not just about homosexuality, but about how, in dealing with our differences from the majority, we just might become the sort of oppressors from whom we are trying to escape. Both stories provide excellent teaching opportunities, so it's unfortunate, though not terribly surprising, that they would be challenged. After all, how horrible it would be for students who are at the age where they are struggling with things like sexuality to realize that others have gone through the same struggles as they. We can't have that happening.

Says a graduate from the school, in perhaps the best statement about any act of censorship in schools: "I'm ashamed this happened in my town. Sheltering people doesn't help anyone learn. It just dumbs down the school. It just sickens me that this can happen in my town." [via]

Veronica Bond / Comments (11)

News Thu Jul 23 2009

Bookmarks

Veronica Bond

News Wed Jul 22 2009

The Hemon Soundtrack

Aleksandar Hemon talks to the New York Times about music and how it's inextricably linked to his writing. He provides a 10-piece soundtrack to his work, revealing that although he did listen to a lot of Beatles music while writing Nowhere Man, he actually didn't listen to the eponymous song. Says Hemon:

I cannot live or write without music. It stimulates the normally dormant parts of my brain that come in handy when constructing fiction. A particular piece of music attaches itself to the piece I'm writing and there is nothing else I can listen to. Every day I return to the same space to write, the music providing both the walls and the pictures on the walls. Once I'm done and the piece is published, I often have a hard time remembering what piece of music is inscribed (or, indeed, transcribed) in it, as there are no visible, let alone obvious, connections, apart from an occasional embedded line. I think that is because the music and writing become indistinguishable to the aforementioned dormant parts, which constitute the majority of my brain mass. So the playlist that would provide a soundtrack for my work would have to be insanely long.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Wed Jul 22 2009

1965 NBA Winner: Herzog

Today the National Book Awards remembers their 1965 winner, Herzog by Saul Bellow.

herzog.jpgRebecca Newberger Goldstein, a 2008 National Book Awards fiction judge, writes of Bellow and his book: "Bellow is often cited as a hero of narrative realism, as having single-handedly, through the heft of his technique, held back the postmodern, meta-fictional, experiments-in-naval-gazing onslaught. But Saul Bellow's relationship with reality was as complicated and adversarial as any writer's before and after. He was not going to be the one to submit. Let reality submit. What a fighter the man was, a conquistador with dreamy Jewish eyes.

"It's extraordinary how many times Bellow calls out to his mighty antagonist by name: Reality. He uses the word more times than Kant and Hegel put together. That's what he was up against, the thing he was out to master and possess. His boot, cleated with metaphors, is planted smack on its exposed bulging neck. His famous style--the zealousness of his figurative language, the mixing of milky thought and bloody-raw meat--is never an end in itself but a means of taking possession."

Veronica Bond

News Tue Jul 21 2009

Niffenegger Talks to Borders

Audrey Niffenegger was interviewed at Book Expo about her upcoming novel Her Fearful Symmetry. Borders has a video of that interview, which you can see here.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Jul 17 2009

1960 NBA Winner: Goodbye, Columbus

The National Book Award blog continues their reminiscences of past winners with the 1960 winner Goodbye, Columbus, by University of Chicago grad student Philip Roth.

goodbye columbus.JPGWrites Liz Rosenberg, a National Book Awards judge and author of Home Repair: "I am always struck by the perfection of Goodbye, Columbus, however many times I read and teach it. It is the perfect Jewish American novel--perfect in its pacing; plotting; its metaphors (the librarian's 'behind barging against his suit jacket like a hoop'); its fruitful Edens: 'There were greengage plums, black plums, red plums, apricots, nectarines, peaches, long horns of grapes, black, yellow, red, and cherries, cherries flowing out of boxes and staining everything scarlet...and on the top shelf, half of a huge watermelon, a thin sheet of wax paper clinging to its bare red face like a wet lip. Oh Patimkin! Fruit grew in their refrigerators and sporting goods dropped from their trees!' One could die happy after writing a passage like that."

Veronica Bond

News Thu Jul 16 2009

Dave Eggers on Salon

Salon talks to Dave Eggers about his newly published book Zeitoun, how the Bush administration has affected America's acceptance of literature and the future of print journalism. On the latter topic, Eggers had this to say:

I think there's a future where the Web and print coexist and they each do things uniquely and complement each other, and we have what could be the ultimate and best-yet array of journalistic venues. I think right now everyone's assuming it's a zero-sum situation, and I just don't see it that way...I think newspapers shouldn't try to compete directly with the Web, and should do what they can do better, which may be long-form journalism and using photos and art, and making connections with large-form graphics and really enhancing the tactile experience of paper...I think there will always be -- if not the same audience and not as wide an audience -- a dedicated audience that can keep print journalism alive.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Jul 16 2009

Bookmarks

Veronica Bond

News Tue Jul 14 2009

"Searching for Ray Bradbury"

File this one under "things that make Veronica incredibly jealous": novelist and screenwriter Steven Paul Leiva has been spending a lot of time with Ray Bradbury for a video he's working on for the Buffalo International Film Festival. Here he composes an essay about the "world's greatest science fiction writer," exploring where the writer came from and how he came to embody that title. Great essay, but, man, I want to spend time with Ray Bradbury! [via]

Veronica Bond

News Tue Jul 14 2009

Gawker Grades Joshua Ferris's Galley

Listed as one of the top anticipated books to be published, Joshua Ferris's The Unnamed gets critiqued over at Gawker's Status Galley Book Club. After judging industry hype, movie potential, the book's status symbol and first sentence, they give the book a final grade of B- saying "The book is great! But it gets downgraded for its mainstream appeal (makes it less cool to the publishing crowd), availability (having it doesn't denote much exclusivity), and the lack of a proven track record beyond his debut novel [Then We Came to the End] to please the New York Publishing Elite."

Other highly anticipated books (or "status galleys" as the term appears to be) include Richard Powers's Generosity: An Enhancement, Dave Eggers's Zeitoun and Philip Roth's The Humbling.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jul 13 2009

The Hadley Richardson Tapes & an Essay from Sean

This new publication of A Moveable Feast sure has raised the occurrence of Hemingway news, e.g., this Tribune article by biographer Gioia Diliberto about receiving a set of taped conversations with Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway's first wife. Says Diliberto on her impression of Richardson upon listening to the tapes:

I expected Hadley, who died in 1979, to be bitter toward Hemingway; instead, on the tapes she is full of gratitude to him for giving her "the key to the world." When she met him in 1920, she had been a timid spinster, who lived for years under the control of her dominating mother in a state of nervous collapse. Meeting Hemingway at a party in Chicago, she told Sokoloff, was a great "explosion into life." He was the first person to see deeply into her true nature, and in a rueful irony, he helped her find the strong sense of self that sustained her through their break-up.

Also, check out this essay at Powell's written by Hemingway's grandson Sean, offering his thoughts on his work editing the new A Moveable Feast:

I think that my grandfather would be happier with the text presented in A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition. Lovers of literature the world over will find much of interest from a new text for Feast to a wealth of supplementary material, including a personal foreword by Patrick Hemingway and a selection of facsimile manuscript pages that enhance our understanding of this critical period in the author's life and how he wrote.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jul 13 2009

More News from Powell's

If you're at all partial to getting good books for ridiculously cheap, I would highly recommend getting yourself to the Burnham Park Powell's as soon as you can. I went this weekend and there was still a great selection of books priced around $5-$6, which means, with their 50% off sale, I came away with a full bag of books for less than two regular priced paperbacks. While there I learned that this isn't the only Powell's that's closing - the Lincoln Ave. location is slated for closure in the future as well. Word on the street (or, at least, from the guy who rang up my purchases) is that there's no set date yet, but it'll happen in the next two to three years and the only store that will remain will be the one on 57th St. So, enjoy your multiple Powell's stores while you can...and, in the meantime, start familiarizing yourself with the #6 bus route.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jul 13 2009

Academia Gets Romantic

This USA Today article takes a look at the academic study of romance novels. Yep, romance novels. It seems that romance novels are gaining ground in academia, as Princeton University held a conference titled "Love as the Practice of Freedom? Romance Fiction and American Culture" this past April. Here they talk to, among other authors, DePaul University English professor Eric Selinger, the organizer of the conference. Says Selinger on the ease of being a man in the romance world, "Nobody thinks I'm a spinster or trapped in a bad marriage, or I'm betraying feminism...People don't judge me as much." I'm not a fan of romance novels myself and I would, in all likelihood, scoff heartily at the idea of a conference on the genre, but, as a student at DePaul, I've heard nothing but positively glowing reviews of Selinger's romance novels course from classmates who would consider themselves as disinclined to the literature as I am. So maybe there's something to it.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Jul 10 2009

Open Books Announces Store Location

open books coming soon.jpgExciting news from Open Books: The non-profit literacy organization has announced the location of their used bookstore and literacy community center as 213 W. Institute Pl., the 100-year-old building that currently houses their office. Opening in the Fall, the store and center will hold over 40,000 used books for sale, three full classrooms and a mobile computer lab, offices and community event space, and space specifically for online book sales, rare and fine books, book processing and other bibliophilic needs. Check their blog to keep up to date on store happenings and find out how you can contribute to its success. Don't forget that you can also check their events and volunteer opportunities lists to see where they'll be next and how you can get involved in promoting literacy throughout the city.

We wish Open Books all the best as they see their dreams of the past three years come to fruition!

Veronica Bond

News Fri Jul 10 2009

W&CF News

Women and Children First's annual used book sale and inventory are coming up next month and they're asking for help from volunteers to get both done successfully. The used book sale will be on Saturday and Sunday, August 1st and 2nd, and the inventory will occur on the following day, Monday, August 3rd. The store will offer a gift certificate to those who help and, I'd imagine, you'd get first crack at the books on either of the sale days. Shifts for the book sale are 8am-1pm and 1pm-6pm; shifts for the inventory are 8:30am-12:30pm and 1pm-6pm. If you're interested, email the store at wcfbooks[at]gmail[dot]com or call them at 773-769-9299.

In other news, here's your chance to contribute to Chicago history. The Chicago Area Women's History Council is recording the store's history and an archive has already been started at Loyola. If you have any memorabilia from the store and their many events - photos, program schedules, newspaper articles, video footage, etc. - and would like to donate it to the archive, bring it in or email it to the above address.

Veronica Bond

News Wed Jul 08 2009

National Book Award: 60 Years, 77 Winners

nba_winner_finalist.gifThe National Book Foundation is looking back at their past 77 National Book Award winners over the last 60 years and blogging about one book per day. They started yesterday with the 1950 winner, Nelson Algren's The Man with the Golden Arm, and will run through September at which point readers will have the opportunity to select "The Best of the National Book Awards Fiction" and win two tickets to the 2009 National Book Awards. The site points out that this is the first time the Awards will be open to public voting, so that's a nice little twist on the usual process.

Of particular interest to Book Club members will be that first winner, which we read in July of 2006, three titles by Saul Bellow (The Adventures of Augie March, our January 2006 read, Herzog and Mr. Sammler's Planet), a smattering of University of Chicago folk (Ralph Ellison with Invisible Man, Thornton Wilder with The Eighth Day, Philip Roth with Sabbath's Theater and Susan Sontag with In America), and our upcoming September read, The Echo Maker by Richard Powers. Keep checking the site as they add commentary on the winners each day. [via]

Veronica Bond

News Wed Jul 08 2009

Barack the Barbarian

Chicago-based Devil's Due Publishing is receiving lots of attention for its new comic book mini-series Barack the Barbarian: Quest for the Treasure of Stimuli. Comicbook.com calls issue #1 is "a good piece of fun," and The Examiner says it's a "hilarious blend of political satire and Sword and Sorcery."

If for no other reason, you've got to buy it for the alternate cover with this illustration of Sarah Palin.

sarahpalin.jpg

For more images and sample pages, visit the Devil's Due website.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jul 08 2009

Illinois Arts Council 2009 Literary Awards

The Illinois Arts Council recently announced the recipients of its 2009 Literary Awards. Only new writing by Illinois writers in Illinois published in Illinois not-profit literary magazines qualify for the award. This year the winners include:

• Stuart Dybek for his story "Bait", which appeared in Tri-Quarterly
• Carolyn Alessio for her creative nonfiction story "Meet Marisol" in Ninth Letter, and
• Robert McDonald for his poem "Postcard Written at 'The Perfect Cup'" published in the Columbia Poetry Review

Both the writers and the literary magazines receive awards of $1,000. For the complete list of winners, visit the Illinois Arts Council website.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jul 08 2009

Bookmarks

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jul 07 2009

Today in Bradbury News

The LA Times reports that Ray Bradbury will hold his 89th birthday celebration at the Memorial Branch Library in LA where he won't charge admission to the party, but will put the sales of his books toward helping the library. Bradbury will also sign those books that are purchased at the party. If I weren't convinced that planes could just randomly fall out of the sky (and recent events haven't helped to persuade me otherwise), I might seriously consider making a little trip out to the west coast for this shindig.

I also recently learned that Fahrenheit 451, the classic book about book-burning, has been adapted into a graphic novel. Tim Hamilton is the artist who did the adaptation with Bradbury's full approval and cooperation. Publisher's Weekly talks about the new graphic novel here.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jul 06 2009

Obama Gets the Shakespeare Treatment

It has long been speculated that another author, frequently thought to be Francis Bacon, wrote a number of Shakespeare's plays and now Barack Obama undergoes the same suspicions. Conservative author Jack Cashill posits that it was not Obama but Bill Ayers (wtf?) that penned his memoir Dreams from My Father. For his stunning proof, Cashill compared Ayers's writing with Obama's to produce a list of similarities that, taken completely out of context, could be quite convincing. Taken in context, however, these similarities mean almost nothing and English PhD and blogger Scott Eric Kaufman hilariously refutes the claim. (Personally, I would love to hear what my style and rhetoric professor would have to say about this.) It seems that this argument has been ongoing since September of last year. Fortunately, it doesn't sound like too many people are convinced of Cashill's claim. Or even really care. [via]

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jul 06 2009

New "One Book, One Chicago" Selection

The Chicago Public Library has chosen The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City as their Fall 2009 One Book, One Chicago selection. Publisher U of C Press talks briefly about the book and provides a link to their Plan of Chicago Facebook page where you can follow the upcoming events and discussions. The events will also be posted on Slowdown, so be sure to check our calendar once the discussions get started next month.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jul 06 2009

Veblen & the Modern World

Dan Gross of the New York Times takes former University of Chicago professor Thorstein Veblen to task for his study of the American elite in the classic The Theory of the Leisure Class. Though the book was published in 1899, Gross applies Veblen's theories to our current economy and finds "while Veblen frequently reads as still 100 percent right on the foibles of the rich, when it comes to an actual theory of the contemporary leisure class, he now comes off as about 90 percent wrong." Gross finds that Veblen's assessment of the leisure class as needing to spend on others, in the form of expensive presents, entertainment, private education, etc., after they've spent all they can on themselves and their mimicry of European nobility to still ring true, however, whereas Veblen defined leisure as the "nonproductive consumption of time" and, therefore, wasteful, Gross points out that today, many members of this upper class continue work though they need not, that "to be at leisure, to be idle, is to be irrelevant." The fact that Veblen's theories still apply at all is interesting to learn and Gross does a fair job of explicating where Veblen succeeds and fails in modern times.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jul 06 2009

Heat Wave Remembered

The New Yorker's books blog recently pointed readers to a 2002 article in which author Malcolm Gladwell remembered the heat wave that tore through Chicago in 1995. Gladwell, appropriately, turns to sociologist Eric Klinenberg's study, Heat Wave, to discuss that deadly week. The Book Club read Heat Wave in August (when else?) of 2005.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jul 06 2009

Sad News from Powell's

I'm dismayed to learn that Powell's is closing their Burnham Park location at 828 S. Wabash. In truth, I've only visited that location once, but mainly that's because for the first five years of my time in Chicago I had easy access to the Hyde Park location and since then I've been close to the Lincoln Ave. location. I visited Burnham Park simply because I was curious to see what the third Powell's was like and, though the Hyde Park location remains my favorite (I'm told that the first Powell's you visit is the one you fall in love with), it was nice knowing that this great purveyor of used books could be found in multiple places throughout the city. Though the closing of this location is sad, the one bright spot is that they're offering 50% off everything in the store. I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain I'll find myself making one final trip down to S. Wabash in the very near future.

Veronica Bond / Comments (2)

News Thu Jul 02 2009

Powell's Talks to Luis Alberto Urrea

Powell's has a new interview with Luis Alberto Urrea, author of past Book Club selection The Hummingbird's Daughter and the recently published Into the Beautiful North.

On writing female characters, he says:

It's funny. I had an interviewer ask me, "Are you writing chick books?" I said, "Chick books? What's a chick book?" "You keep writing about women," he said. I said, "What's wrong with writing about women?" I don't know. I guess it's because of Hummingbird, in part. But part of the process of Hummingbird was being accepted by the women's healing community in the indigenous world. I didn't really understand the world of medicine, or curanderas. I had some access to that through men, because I have all these brothers who are Oglalas (adoptive brothers, in the loose term of brother), and I have relatives who are Apache, and so forth.

When I was accepted by a couple of communities of women, I was taken in to learn the women's stuff. One of those women said this very simple thing. It was so simple it was brilliant. She said, "You goddamned men. When you want to know something about women, why don't you just ask?" I had this idiotic Western writer's response; I was writing down notes: "Hmm, ask women!" [Laughter] Her follow-up was, "And when we tell you, why don't you listen?" It became really important to me if I was going to write Hummingbird's Daughter to try to do honor to women.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jun 29 2009

New Yorker News on U of C

The New Yorker's Book Bench blog isn't really the place I expected the image of such shirts to jump out at me, as if leaping through the past to haunt me in my present (I wholeheartedly concur with Walker's summation of time spent at the University of Chicago as "bleak"). Nevertheless, two reported items are of note: the left-leaning locally published magazine The Baffler is coming back, and two undergrads are penning a book called Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books, Now Presented in Twenty Tweets or Less and have sold it to Penguin. Is the last item sad or ironic? The thing about the U of C is that you never really can tell the difference.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jun 29 2009

More on Hemingway's Marriages

There's even more Hemingway news to bring you. Last week Alice alerted us to a new book that will take a fictionalized look at Hemingway's first marriage; now the New York Times tells the story of the author's grandson's efforts to restore the posthumously published A Moveable Feast, the memoir that includes the dissolution of that first marriage. It seems that the editing of the book is a story in itself: originally edited by Hemingway's fourth wife, the first edition included a final chapter on that first marriage built from parts that Hemingway indicated he did not want published. The upcoming new edition of the book, what is being called the "restored edition," is edited by grandson Seán Hemingway who, among other changes, added passages from the manuscript that he believes puts his grandmother (the author's second wife, Pauline) in "a more sympathetic light." The Times reports on Seán's motivations:

Seán said he revised edits that had been made in the first edition, and restored paragraphs that he believed presented his grandmother's relationship with Hemingway in a more nuanced and truthful way. Seán said that in doing so, he felt he was returning the text closer to the way his grandfather wanted it.

The new version of Pauline's arrival in Hemingway's life, titled 'The Pilot Fish and the Rich,' and included in the additional Paris sketches, shows Hemingway taking more responsibility for his breakup with [first wife] Hadley. While the 1964 edition casts him as Pauline's victim, he shares the blame in the new version.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Jun 25 2009

Bookmarks

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jun 24 2009

Chicago Authors Know How to Write a Threesome

The Guardian asked novelist Ewan Morrison, author of Menage, to pick the Top Ten Literary Threesomes. His list includes not one, but two Chicago authors. In at #1, the Top Literary Threesome Ever, is Oak Park native Ernest Hemingway with The Garden of Eden, a novel that "tells the story of an author, his adventurous wife, and the psycho-sexual games they play while sharing a young woman. It is largely held to be autobiographical." University of Chicago alum Susan Sontag comes in at #7 with The Volcano Lover, a historical fiction revolving around Sir William Hamilton, his wife Emma and Vice Admiral Horation Nelson. Apparently, Chicago authors know how to write the sexy. (Of course, we already knew that.)

Veronica Bond / Comments (3)

News Wed Jun 24 2009

Sherman Alexie Safe in Antioch

Banned Books Weeks is coming up in about three months and it's a shame to be reminded why we so desperately need to continue with this celebration. Recently, parents at a school in the suburb of Antioch petitioned to pull Sherman Alexie's The Absolutley True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from the freshman required summer reading list. Parents objected to the book's "descriptions of masturbation, racist language, graphic depictions of sex, and references to bestiality," but faculty maintained that the language needs to be read in context and that the book contains an overall "strong anti-drug, anti-alcohol message." The faculty won (yay!). I haven't read the book myself, but knowing that it was challenged certainly sparks my interest when I had none before. I imagine the same will be true for a lot of those freshmen. [via]

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jun 22 2009

'Great Perhaps' Definitely Great

Joe Meno scores a review in the New York Times Book Review for his latest novel The Great Perhaps. The reviewer says Meno "has a highly developed ear not simply for teenage dialogue but for the teenager's inner life."

The Tribune also reviews the novel, and according to the reviewer, Meno is an "ambitious, adventurous writer" who "throws in every thing but the kitchen sink -- historical digressions, magic realism, fervent prayers, sordid sex, academic politicking, three wars and the 2004 election -- as he follows two confused teenagers, their bewildered parents and a disoriented grandfather through one eventful month."

And, in the following video, Meno talks about why he works with an indie publisher to publish his books:


Alice Maggio

News Mon Jun 22 2009

Ray Bradbury Loves Libraries

Ray Bradbury is lending his considerable literary clout to save the Ventura County public libraries, which are threatened by loss of revenue from falling property taxes. The 88-year-old author tells the New York Times, "Libraries raised me. I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years."

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jun 22 2009

Bookmarks

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jun 22 2009

Test Your Knowledge of Literary Chicago

Do you think you know your Chicago literature? Here's your chance to put your knowledge to the test. Bill Ott at Booklist has put together a wicked Literary Chicago quiz. Not only do you have to match the book with its author, but you also need to correctly identify the neighborhood or location where the story takes place. Several of his choices are past GB Book Club selections. Here's the .pdf version. Good luck!

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jun 22 2009

Indie Bookstores Need Your Patronage

Time Out Chicago raises the alarm bells for Women and Children First, which is still struggling to survive.

W&CF does have an online store, so even if you can't visit the physical store, consider buying online and help support a valuable local business.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jun 22 2009

Looking for Heroes

The Seattle Times has a review of Luis Alberto Urrea's new novel, Into the Beautiful North, about a young Mexican woman who travels to the United States to find her own 'Magnificent Seven' to save her town from drug dealers. The reviewer says, "Not to trivialize, but these characters cry out for a sequel -- maybe a telenovela? They are too good for just a single outing."

On the other hand, the San Francisco Chronicle calls Into the Beautiful North "Border Crossing Lite" and says the book "seems rushed."

The Chronicle also has an interview with Urrea in which the author explains, "in this book I partially wanted to give a lighter read."

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jun 11 2009

Alaa al Aswany Interview

Recently the Guardian interviewed Egyptian author Alaa al Aswany, known to us through his 2008 novel, Chicago, based on his experiences as a student at UIC. On his time here:

"As a dentistry student in Chicago three decades ago, he hugely admired America's efficiency. But it was not, in the long run, for him. 'Everything is systemised, practical. Egypt is the opposite, but there is beauty in that. To me, it's the most wonderful place on earth.'"

Veronica Bond

News Wed Jun 10 2009

Dave Eggers Wants to Reassure You

Do you think print is dead? That no one is reading anymore? Then Dave Eggers has a message for you.

In the meantime, Eggers is also busy with a novelization of Where the Wild Things Are and a new nonfiction book, Zeitoun, about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina "as seen through the eyes of a Muslim-American family."

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jun 10 2009

New Yorker Summer Fiction Issue

The June 8-15 summer fiction issue of the New Yorker features a cover by Daniel Clowes and an essay by Aleksandar Hemon.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jun 10 2009

Printers Row a Success Despite Weather

Phil Vettel went to the Printers Row Lit Fest and found affirmation that the printed word can still draw crowds.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jun 09 2009

Dalkey Press Upbeat

Julia Keller profiles Dalkey Archive Press, located at the University of Illinois, and happily reports: "While most updates from the publishing business these days can automatically be filed under the 'bad news' category, the dispatches from Dalkey are decidedly upbeat."

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jun 09 2009

Aleksandar Hemon & Alina Simone

Last month author Aleksandar Hemon appeared at a Barnes & Noble event with Ukranian-born musician Alina Simone. He discussed fiction and identity, and you can watch the video online:


Alice Maggio

News Fri May 29 2009

Loving Vonnegut

Steve Almond look at a new memoir written by a former lover (and student) of Kurt Vonnegut's. Love as Always, Kurt: Vonnegut as I Knew Him by Loree Rackstraw is called an "absorbing and occasionally confounding hagiography."

Alice Maggio

News Fri May 29 2009

Culture Shock in Love and Obstacles

The siege of Sarajevo is the dark cloud that seems ever to drift through the atmosphere of Hemon's fiction, sometimes in the historical periphery, sometimes in the story's present on American television, sometimes in the adjustments of emigre life, casting its shadow on tales that might otherwise read as family comedy out to trace human foibles and -- what shall we call it? -- the existential oddity of being. He writes books of laughter and non-forgetting.

Art Winslow reviews Love and Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon for the Trib.

Alice Maggio

News Fri May 29 2009

The Irreverent Fun of Yes Day!

Amy Krouse Rosenthal's new children's book is called Yes Day!, and Publishers Weekly says, "Rosenthal taps into children's glee at bucking rules and routines in favor of irreverent (but not too crazy) fun."

PW also has an interview with Rosenthal, in which she reveals that she is working on a film project.

Alice Maggio

News Thu May 28 2009

What's in Your Summer Book Bag?

This week Al Gini shared his annual summer book recommendations on Chicago Public Radio's 848 program. His picks include Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley and many more.

Alice Maggio

News Thu May 28 2009

'His Work Defies Classification'

I have always believed that the books of youth stay with us in a unique way. The fairy tales, nursery rhymes and novels we read when we're young become part of our DNA.

Author Alice Hoffman talks about how Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 restored her faith after the events of 9/11.

Alice Maggio

News Wed May 20 2009

Life in Oz

The Seattle Times review a new biography of L. Frank Baum, author of the Oz novels. Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story by Evan Schwartz aims to find correlations between the Oz books and Baum's life, and the reviewer notes the approach is "fascinating, but not all of it is convincing."

Alice Maggio

News Wed May 20 2009

'Hemon's Extraordinary Lyric Freedom'

The San Francisco Chronicle admires Aleksandar Hemon's new book, a collection of short stories titled Love and Obstacles.

Alice Maggio

News Wed May 20 2009

Eugenides and Bellow

Jeffrey Eugenides also recently appeared on NPR's "All Things Considered." When he gets writer's block, Eugenides reveals that he reaches for Herzog by Saul Bellow for inspiration.

Alice Maggio

News Tue May 19 2009

Scenes from the Book Swap

Did you miss the GB Book Club Book Swap last week at Black Rock? Check out some photos from the swap on Flickr, snapped by our wonderful partners for the event, Open Books.

Alice Maggio

News Tue May 19 2009

NYT Talks to Eugenides

The New York Times has a nice little video of their Book Review editor's interview with Jeffrey Eugenides.

Veronica Bond

News Thu May 14 2009

News in Brief

A quick round-up of local literary news and recent reviews:

Alice Maggio

News Wed May 13 2009

Do Children' Authors Have More Fun?

The New York Times contemplates local (and Book Club selection) author Amy Krouse Rosenthal's high production of children's books and wonders if there's something about children's books in particular that attracts the prolific writer:

"Maybe kids' book writers simply have more fun. That certainly seems to be the case with Rosenthal. For all I know, she may suffer torment upon torment in front of a blank screen, but the results read as if they were a pleasure to write. Her books radiate fun the way tulips radiate spring: they are elegant and spirit-lifting."

Veronica Bond

News Tue May 12 2009

Bradbury Would Not Be Proud

I just finished rereading Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 for the Big Read, so the story's "There's more than one way to burn a book" message is fresh on my mind. It never ceases to amaze me how prescient Bradbury's novels can be (gigantic plasma TVs, earbud phones, etc.), so imagine my horror when I came across this direct realization from the book: Tweetfic. It's the reduction of classic novels to a single sentence. The Guardian does not sound pleased.

Veronica Bond

News Tue May 12 2009

Get Caught Reading

May is National Get Caught Reading Month and last week the Open Books team went around the city snapping photos of people in the act of reading. Check out what they caught on Flickr. Do you see people reading on a daily basis? (I mean, when you're forced to look up from your own book, of course.) Snap their photo and submit it to Open Books's photo contest and you may win a prize.

Veronica Bond

Events Sat May 02 2009

Savage Dragon Engulfs Comic Book Store in Flames of Rock

Or, more free comics. Challengers Comics welcomes Erik Larsen, creator of (Chicago cop) "Savage Dragon" in celebration of Free Comic Book Day. He will be signing books from 12pm to 3pm.

Rose Lannin

News Fri May 01 2009

It's "Supernifty"

I post this Sun-Times review of the new Museum of Science and Industry Harry Potter exhibit only because I find this Powell's comment (scroll down until you get to Book News Round-up) on the review quite amusing. (And, really, we're using "squee" in print journalism nowadays? Samuel Johnson must be rolling over in his grave.)

Veronica Bond

News Thu Apr 30 2009

Coen Discusses Family Secrets

Earlier this week I posted Ramsin Canon's review of Family Secrets by Jeff Coen. On Tuesday, Coen discussed his book on Chicago Public Radio's 848 program. You can listen online or download the episode here.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Apr 29 2009

Ray Bradbury Scolds LA Times

Ray Bradbury attended the Los Angeles Festival of Books last weekend and warned that it might be his last appearance at the fair unless the LA Times reinstates its Books section.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Apr 29 2009

Are We Forgetting Algren?

David Ulin at the LA Times wonders if we are forgetting Nelson Algren.

Alice Maggio / Comments (1)

News Wed Apr 29 2009

Some Odd-Fish Goings On

James Kennedy is all over the web this week. Check out his interview in Chicagoist where he expounds more on how his book, The Order of Odd-Fish came to be and offers some interesting thoughts on Watchmen's Comedian. The Onion's Decider talks with James about being a fantasy writer in a post-Harry Potter world and he reveals that he actually doesn't read all that much fantasy writing. And a gentleman by the name of Paul Michael Murphy has declared it The Order of Odd-Fish Week on his blog during which he will celebrate all things Odd-Fish! If you've never had the pleasure of seeing James read from his book in person, the YouTube clip on this post is a nice approximation.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Fri Apr 24 2009

Elizabeth & Joe

Book Club selection author Elizabeth Crane (we read All This Heavenly Glory) interviews Book Club selection author Joe Meno (Hairstyles of the Damned was our first book ever) in this month's Chicago Magazine. In answer to Elizabeth's question, "What's your take on Chicago's literary scene?" Joe's answer of, "It's amazing!" is certainly one to agree with.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Thu Apr 23 2009

Chicago Public Library Design Contest Winners

The winners have been announced in the Chicago Public Library's poster design contest for its "Not What You Think" campaign.

You can still view all the entries on Flickr, including the 30 finalists chosen by the library.

But, as announced in tonight's awards ceremony, "Patchwork 1" by Holly Miller is the grand prize winner, while Alexandra Tsarpalas took home the people's choice award for her design, "Camp Site."

Congrats to the winners!

Alice Maggio

News Thu Apr 23 2009

Urrea Believes Life is a Story

Author Luis Alberto Urrea participates in NPR's "This I Believe" project, saying alll life is story, and "we are the narrators." Listen and read his essay here.

We read his novel, The Hummingbird's Daughter, for our March 2007 meeting.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Apr 23 2009

Indiebound for iPhone

Now you can shop and buy books from some of your favorite local booksellers right from your iPhone with the free Indiebound for iPhone application. Using the app, you can also browse bestseller and recommendation lists and locate the nearest independent bookstore wherever you are. Support your neighbors' businesses and buy local!

Alice Maggio

News Thu Apr 23 2009

Best Cake Ever

You have got to see this awesome edible rendition of the scene where Jo and her compatriots arrive in Eldritch City via fish stomach in James Kennedy's The Order of Odd-Fish. Who knew fish barf could look so appetizing?

Veronica Bond

News Wed Apr 22 2009

I Prithee, Mayhaps Thou...Ummm

Need help brushing up on your Shakespearian English for Talk Like Shakespeare Day? The University of Chicago Press has got you covered.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Apr 22 2009

Achy Obejas in Ruins

Achy Obejas has a new novel, Ruins, which takes place in native city of Havana, Cuba. NPR takes a look. The GB Book Club read her earlier novel Memory Mambo for April 2006.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Apr 22 2009

Text a Librarian Today

IM IN UR LIBRARY READIN UR BOOKS

The Plainfield Public Library is the first library in the state to offer a text-a-librarian service. What would you text a librarian about? The Plainfield Sun reports that "the questions could be anything a patron would normally call the library about, such as questions about hours of operation, scheduled programs, resources or materials."

Alice Maggio

News Tue Apr 21 2009

Zombie Vonnegut

Michael Crichton isn't the only zombie author, publishing works from beyond the grave. Readers and fans can expect another collection of previously unpublished stories by Kurt Vonnegut this fall. In addition to the new collection, tentatively titled Look at the Birdie, publisher Delacorte Press also plans to reissue 15 of Vonnegut's best-known works.

The GB Book Club will be reading Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut for our June meeting.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Apr 21 2009

Celebrating the Anniversary of Mango Street

NPR has an interview with author Sandra Cisneros. She talks about The House on Mango Street as the book turns 25. The House on Mango Street is the current One Book, One Chicago selection.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Apr 14 2009

Nami Mun Interview

The Independent interviews author Nami Mun, whose novel Miles from Nowhere bears some autobiographical elements:

"...Ms Mun said she was spurred into adult education after a humiliating episode while working as a waitress, and eventually completed an English literature degree at Berkeley university.

"I was a minor and I worked really hard to get whatever I needed," she said. "I got a job as a waitress serving cocktails when I was only 15. I was serving these two guys and they had a bet on about me. They asked me a maths question - 'What do you call a line that touches but does not intersect a circle?' I'd left school after eighth grade and I was kind of embarrassed that I didn't know the answer.

"One guy bet that I'd know because I was Asian, while the other bet I wouldn't know because I was a waitress. I was so maddened by them that I signed up for my educational diploma," she said.

I think that's a bit of an unfair question... I went all the way through college calculus and could only guess the answer (and I'm shocked that, however wild the guess was, it was right).

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Thu Apr 09 2009

Richard Wright Stamp

Today the United States Post Office will offer for nationwide sale a stamp commemorating Richard Wright, author of our Septmeber 2008 selection Native Son. Not only is Wright known for his racially charged depiction of Bigger Thomas's plight in 1930s Chicago, but he also worked for the Chicago Post Office as a letter sorter from 1927-1930. Wright is the 25th inductee into the USPS's Literary Arts series of stamps. Julia Keller of the Chicago Tribune writes her approval of the choice.

Veronica Bond

News Wed Apr 08 2009

Two Reviews

Patrick Somerville's debut novel, The Cradle, receives a nice review in the Denver Post, as the reviewer calls the book "a lovely, finely wrought tale of unlikely redemption."

And, the Washington Post reviews The Foie Gras Wars by Tribune reporter Mark Caro, saying "if you are looking for an animal-rights manifesto...Caro is not your man."

Alice Maggio

News Wed Apr 08 2009

Missing Michael

The Guardian reports that two books by Michael Crichton "have been discovered on the writer's computer" and will be published by HarperCollins in the next 18 months. The first is titled Pirate Latitudes and is set in 17th-centurey Jamaica (man, is everyone on the pirate kick nowadays?). HC is looking for a co-writer to complete the second novel, a technological thriller, which they plan to publish next year. According to Crichton's agent, there are no plans to raid his computer for material for posthumous publication and no plans to make the Crichton name a franchise. Except for, um, just these two.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Apr 02 2009

Nelson Algren Centennial

Pete Lit noted last weekend that March 28, 2009 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of writer Nelson Algren. He also pointed to a couple great articles commemorating the author, including "The Ninth Man Out" by Jeff McMahon at NewCity and a new profile by Donna Seaman at Booklist.

Noted elsewhere: The Chicago Reader features "Entrapment," a previously unpublished story by Algren.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Apr 02 2009

NPR Likes 'Fish'

Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin, a paleontologist who teaches at the University of Chicago, is now out in paperback. NPR has a review and an excerpt from the book.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Apr 02 2009

Suburban Libraries Feeling Stressed

The Arlington Heights Memorial Library got the front page treatment in the New York Times today in a story about how the recession has increased library usage and placed extra stress on librarians dealing with depressed and distraught patrons.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Apr 02 2009

Upcoming Literary Awards

The Sun-Times reports (scroll down a little bit) that this year's recipient of the Carl Sandburg Award will be Salmon Rushide, author Midnight's Children among numerous others. Rushie will be honored at a gala dinner at the Harold Washington Library hosted by the Chicago Public Library on October 15. Local author Patrick Somerville will receive the accompanying 21st Century Award, which honors achievements by authors with ties to Chicago.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Mar 31 2009

More from Joe Meno

Here's another YouTube message from Joe Meno to whet your literary appetite while you wait for his next book, The Great Perhaps, to come out:

Veronica Bond

News Wed Mar 25 2009

Free Books for Your Organization

Local publisher, and friend of the Book Club, Lake Claremont Press is offering a free case of its discontinued titles for your organization, school, church or business. There are no strings attached, except that you must come to pick them up in person from the publisher (or pay $15/case for shipping). You have your choice of either (or both):

A Native's Guide to Chicago, 4th Edition (28 in a case)
A Field Guide to Gay & Lesbian Chicago (52 in a case)

Of course, the offer is only good while supplies last, but publisher Sharon Woodhouse says, "Don't be shy—we need the warehouse space and we want to get these books into appreciative hands while the information is still somewhat current."

So, what are you waiting for? Contact Lake Claremont Press at 312-226-8400 or email lcp[at]lakeclaremont.com for more information.

Alice Maggio / Comments (1)

News Mon Mar 23 2009

Hemon and Honest, Tough Chicago

The Denver Post has an interview with Aleksandar Hemon, who discusses his life in "second largest Bosnian city in the world."

Alice Maggio / Comments (1)

News Mon Mar 23 2009

Block by Block

The New York Times Book Review reviews Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America by Beryl Satter, an examination of "race and housing discrimination in Chicago during the 1950s and '60s," declaring that "no one can accuse the author of glossing over the messy details of life on the ground in Chicago. Neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, slumlord by slumlord, she takes us through the complex realities of racial division, economic exploitation and local politics."

Alice Maggio

News Mon Mar 23 2009

History Behind Closed Doors

Howard Wolinsky reviews a new book from Lake Claremont Press, For Members Only: A History and Guide to Chicago's Oldest Private Clubs by Lisa Holton, at HuffPost, noting that "the clubs, leather chairs and wood paneling, may seem quaint, but they are important part of what made Chicago."

Alice Maggio

News Mon Mar 23 2009

Messinger Talks About Paper Egg

Writer Tobias Carroll has an interview with Jonathan Messinger of Featherproof Books. In it, Messinger answers questions about Featherproof's new subscription books imprint, Paper Egg. Read the full interview here.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Mar 19 2009

On Norman Maclean

The Chicago Blog points to a fascinating essay in The Nation examining the work of Norman Maclean. Writer Phillip Connors discusses his own strange connection to A River Runs Through It--he also lost his brother much too soon--and reviews The Norman Maclean Reader from the U of C Press.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Mar 18 2009

Urrea Gets Graphic Novel Treatment

A short story by Luis Alberto Urrea, "Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush," is being republished as a graphic novel by Cinco Puntos Press. It has been illustrated by artist Christopher Cardinale, who visited the village of Rosario, Mexico, where the story takes place, for research. Luis Alberto Urrea is also the author of The Hummingbird's Daughter, the GB Book Club's March 2007 selection.

Alice Maggio / Comments (1)

News Tue Mar 17 2009

OBOC Spring 2009 Selection

As noted elsewhere, the Chicago Public Library has chosen The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros for the spring selection of the One Book, One Chicago program. Longtime GB Book Club members can cross this one off their list, however, because we read it for our October 2006 meeting.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Mar 17 2009

Writing about Wright

The Denver Post talks to T.C. Boyle about The Women.

Boyle compares himself to Wright by saying, "Writing a novel and finding its structure is sort of like building a house and so forth, but one of the ways where we're different is that I need serenity to work. Wright needed this tumult of being sued, of having the press tear him to pieces, having lawyers on his doorstep, his crazy wives and so forth, enough to get his back up to the point where he had no choice but to do the work."

Alice Maggio

News Wed Mar 11 2009

Lynda Barry Gets Noticed (Finally!)

The Tribune has a great feature story on cartoonist Lynda Barry, who finally getting the recognition she deserves. The Comics Journal also interviewed the artist for its most recent issue. You may read a tantalizing excerpt online.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Mar 11 2009

Trib Reviews The Cradle

The Chicago Tribune has a review of The Cradle by local author Patrick Sommerville, and calls it a "surprisingly tender novel" with characters rendered with "warm appreciation of their complexity and resilience."

Alice Maggio

News Wed Mar 11 2009

Niffenegger's Huge Book Deal

GalleyCat is reporting that Audrey Niffenegger has sold the rights to her next book for close to 5 million dollars. Take that, Blago. Publisher's Weekly has more about the deal and the book, which is titled Her Fearful Symmetry.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Mar 10 2009

More on The Women

NPR has lots of goodies for T.C. Boyle's new novel The Women, about the life and loves of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Visit the site to read an excerpt from the book, listen to Boyle read from the novel and find links to more stories and interviews.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Mar 10 2009

Marketing Your First Book

As the Chicago Reader discovered, local author Carol LaChapelle is documenting the struggles of marketing one's own first book on her blog.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Mar 10 2009

Last Week's News

After a brief absence, I am catching up on some news here. The big news last week was ex-governor Rod Blagojevich's reported six-figure book deal. Everyone was all over this story. Read more about it here, here, here and here.

John Kass got into the spirit by holding a "name Blago's book" contest at the Chicago Tribune. He received thousands of entries, and you can view the online voting results now.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Feb 27 2009

2009 Tournament of Books

Friend of the Book Club (FotBC) Kevin Guilfoile has resumed his post as Chairman and Commentator for the 2009 Tournament of Books hosted by the online magazine The Morning News.

As Guilfoile explains, the Tournament of Books is an "event in which 16 of the most-hyped, best-reviewed books of the past year are seeded into an NCAA basketball-type bracket and forced to compete in a 'Battle Royale of Literary Excellence,' with the winning author being crowned Champion of Books and awarded a live rooster."

Visit the official website for the full list of this year's contenders, and find out how you can bet on the tournament and help a worthy cause at the same time.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Feb 27 2009

Local Edgar Award Nominees

It is awards season, and the nominees for the 2009 Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America were recently announced. Chicago is overflowing with talented mystery and crime novelists, so it is no surprise to see local authors represented among the finalists. Some of them include:

Best First Novel
Calumet City by Charlie Newton

Best Short Story
"A Sleep Not Unlike Death" by Sean Chercover
"Scratch a Woman" by Laura Lippman

Best Play
The Ballad of Emmett Till by Ifa Bayeza

And, also of interest to Chicagoans is For The Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb and the Murder that Shocked Chicago by Simon Baatz, nominated for Best Fact Crime.

The winners will be announced on April 30. Good luck everyone!

Alice Maggio / Comments (1)

News Fri Feb 27 2009

Books by Mail

Local publisher Featherproof has jumped into the book-of-the-month club pool by starting a new subscription-only imprint called Paper Egg Books. For $20 a year, you will receive two limited-edition titles, and the books will be designed by local illustrator Paul Hornschemeier. For more information, including how to subscribe, visit the website.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Feb 27 2009

Borders Closing Mag Mile Store

As noted elsewhere on GB, Borders has announced that it is closing its Michigan Ave store in January 2010. Um, can we get Waterstone's back? Or Rizzoli's?

Alice Maggio / Comments (2)

News Fri Feb 20 2009

How Are Our Local Indies Surviving?

The Daily Herald checks on the health of several suburban indie bookstores, including Crocodile Pie children's bookstore in Libertyville, Town House Books in St. Charles and Anderson's in Naperville. All three share some survival strategies for the current economy.

And, The Southtown Star recently profiled The Bookie's Paperbacks & More bookstore in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood, a used bookstore which is seeing a "boost in sales" as more people hunt for deals.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Feb 20 2009

More Reviews of The Women

More reviews of The Women by T.C. Boyle published recently. The Chicago Tribune says, "Boyle's impishness with his material, seeming ever straining to resist the outright farcical, is as prominent as the flash of Wright's ego in these pages." And, the San Francisco Chronicle gushes that "Boyle's prose moves with equal parts vigor and grace. His rhythmic, turbo-charged sentences virtually leap off the page."

Alice Maggio

News Thu Feb 12 2009

McNally Haunted by Ghosts

This month we are reading John McNally's novel The Book of Ralph, but McNally has a new book out titled Ghosts of Chicago. NPR reviews the new story collection, and you can read the reviewer's favorite story, "I See Johnny," in its entirety here.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Feb 12 2009

The Women in the Life of Frank Lloyd Wright

The Women by T.C. Boyle is a new novel about the four major ladies in the life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Jacket Copy has a nice round-up of some of the press about the book. NPR also reviews the book, which you can listen to here. And the Boston Globe says, "Boyle's portrait of Wright himself as an egomaniac dodging his creditors, soaking his clients, and bamboozling his women is deliciously repulsive. At the same time, Boyle does a brilliant job of exploring Wright's matchless artistic sensibilities."

Alice Maggio

News Thu Feb 12 2009

Winning Designs

The University of Chicago Press had 11 winners in the recent 2009 American Association of University Presses Book, Jacket and Journal Show competition. Collections of Nothing by William Davies King and The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age by Neil Harris were among the books honored. You can see all the UCP's winning book designs here.

Alice Maggio

News Sun Feb 08 2009

Dreams from My Father: The Good Parts Version

"This s@#t's getting way too complicated for me." If you've read Barack Obama's bestselling memoir Dreams from My Father, you may remember he used some colorful language when describing his high school buddy Ray. As a result, when Obama recorded the audiobook version, he left us with some decidedly un-presidential, yet hilarious outtakes. The Boston Phoenix has the .mp3s.

Alice Maggio

News Sun Feb 08 2009

Deluge of New Lincoln Books

The New York Times Sunday Book Review has a nice round-up of new books published about our state's first famous senator, just in time for the Lincoln bicentennial.

Alice Maggio

News Sun Feb 08 2009

Digitized Books from the Newberry Library

The Newberry Library's Genealogy News blog announces that a "selection of books from the Newberry's collection are now available digitally through the Internet Archive." You can see the complete list of titles here.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Feb 04 2009

(Free) Comics + Conversation

Ice cubes clinked, well-inked pages flipped and conversation was lively as notable local comic book artists Tim Seeley (Loaded Bible), Mike Norton (Green Arrow, Black Canary), Jenny Frison (Hack/Slash) and many more mingled at Challengers last Saturday. A relative newcomer to the comic shop scene, the press conference highlighted their latest promotion, which involves giving away comic books. Comic books, for free. That's right. They've left "Free Comic Challenge" cards all around the city: on trains and buses, in the backs of cabs, at local bars, record stores and more. But if your spirit of adventure withers when it's below 20 degrees, you can print one off here.

This gesture reflects the inclusive spirit owners Patrick Brower and Dal Bush want to foster between fans. "You open a store to sell comics and talk to people, encourage their interests -- you don't want to be the Comic Book Guy [on the Simpsons], where you're just there to make fun of someone else," Bush said. "Every fan has to start somewhere." Challengers is located at 1845 N. Western Ave (look for the big "C"). For more information, call (773) 278-0155 or visit their website.

Rose Lannin

News Thu Jan 29 2009

2008 Finalists for National Book Critics Circle Awards

Last weekend the National Books Critics Circle announced the finalists for the organization's 2008 awards. Nominees of local interest include:

Fiction
Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project (Riverhead)

Criticism
Seth Lerer, Children's Literature: A Reader's History: Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter (University of Chicago Press)

Biography
Paula J. Giddings, Ida, A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching (Amistad)

Check out the complete list of finalists here. Award winners will be announced on March 12.

Alice Maggio / Comments (1)

News Thu Jan 29 2009

100 Poems for the First 100 Days

Jonathan Messinger at TOC brings our attention to Arielle Greenberg, an assistant professor of poetry at Columbia College Chicago, who has launched Starting Today, a blog that is featuring a new poem every day for the first 100 days of Obama's administration. [via]

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jan 29 2009

Schwartz Bookshops Closing

Sad news from our neighbors to the north:

"Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, one of the largest and oldest independent chains in Wisconsin, survived the Great Depression but wasn't able to overcome titanic changes in the retail sector, exacerbated by the current economic crisis."

After 82 years in business, Schwartz will be closing its remaining locations. Read the full story here.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jan 19 2009

"The Night Bookmobile" Collected

Missed some of Audrey Niffenegger's comic serial, "The Night Bookmobile," over at the Guardian? Fear not, as this site put together links to each of the story's panel, from first to last, in chronological order, for your viewing pleasure. (Thanks, John!)

Veronica Bond

News Fri Jan 16 2009

Odd Tunes for Odd-Fish

Get inside James Kennedy's head over at Largehearted Boy and listen to the soundtrack he created for his novel The Order of Odd-Fish. Kennedy gives explanations for all of his choices, which gives us a nice little view into his mind and the creation of this great story:

"Delphine, 'La Fermeture Eclair': The first scene of The Order of Odd-Fish is a raucous costume party at Lily Larouche's decrepit ruby palace in the middle of the California desert. When I watch the movie version of Odd-Fish in my head, this is the first song--swinging orientalist ye-ye blasting as the camera prowls around, glimpsing eggplants, UFOs, and witches dancing in the tiki torches' half-light while our hero Jo Larouche slips unnoticed through the crowd, searching for her erratic Aunt Lily. 'La Fermeture Eclair' means 'zipper,' and its lyrics are about a suspicious girl protecting herself from a pushy boy--perfect for Jo's wary character."

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jan 12 2009

The (Not So) Write Stuff

I was just waiting for this to happen...the art of writing has finally been reduced to a reality television series. The Write Stuff will air on the CW Network in June and will feature writers competing for a one-book deal by Hollygrove Publishing, a marketing plan designed by a New York Times bestselling author and a two-year contract with a publicity team. Theoretically, this will give them everything they need to have a successful writing career. That's a nice prize and I'm not necessarily opposed to the reality-competition-TV-genre in general - it certainly worked for Project Runway and Top Chef isn't bad at all - but somehow it feels incredibly insulting to reduce the writing process, which can take years and years and not just a half-hour quick-round challenge, to this sort of treatment. What's next - the Next Top Post-Modern Painter? The Next Top Architect? The Next Top Yoga Instructor? (Okay, I could see the last one actually happening.)

Anyway, if this doesn't sound ridiculous to you and you think you have what it takes to have your writing judged by a group of people on TV every week, then get your stuff together and audition on January 24 at the Comfort Inn in Aurora (4005 Gabrielle Lane, 60504). Local authors Tony Lindsay, Steve Mayfield, Jane Jordan, Michelle Larks and Donna Deloney will join other authors on the panel of judges. Maybe we'll see you on the CW in June. Not that I'll be watching.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Wed Jan 07 2009

Mun on Powell's

Powell's interviews Nami Mun, Korean author and current Chicago resident, about her debut novel Miles From Nowhere:

"This book isn't necessarily 'pleasant' to read, I guess, but I can say that it's emotionally honest, and, I hope, unflinching. I wanted to try and depict life as it is really lived by runaways, throwaways, sex workers, and addicts, and in no way did I want to beautify anything for fear of offending. But, of course, life on the streets isn't all about brutality and pain. There are funny, loving moments, too, which hopefully my readers -- whether they be booksellers, soccer moms, priests or prison guards -- will connect with."

Veronica Bond

News Mon Dec 29 2008

Unabridged Blog

One of my favorite bookstores, Unabridged in Lakeview, has joined us on the internets with a brand-spankin' new blog. It's seriously new, having launched six days ago (if you get up close to your computer, it still has that new-blog smell). There's not much on it yet, but they do bring to your attention that photography books, cookbooks and various other coffee table books are 40% off right now, which is nice because after Christmas, it's all about getting presents for yourself.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Dec 26 2008

New Year, New Fiction

The New Year is upon us and the Reader will get you started learning about some great new local authors with their 9th annual fiction issue. This issue includes pieces by Jona Meyer, Rosaleen Bertolino, Latoya Wolfe, Ben Greenman and the wonderful James Kennedy. If your impending resolution is to get more fiction under your belt, this would be a good place to start.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Thu Dec 11 2008

Daily Routines

Have you ever wondered how some of your favorite writers organize their days? The blog Daily Routines posts information on the lives of writers, artists and "other interesting people," all taken from books, newspapers, magazines and other websites. Some locals you could get to know: Saul Bellow, Ernest Hemingway, J.M. Coetzee, Philip Roth and Roger Ebert.

Veronica Bond

News Wed Dec 10 2008

Axl & Ahab

UIC Professor Lennard J. Davis, author of the newly published Obsession: A History, has some interesting thoughts on Axl Rose and the ridiculously long-awaited release of Chinese Democracy:

"In some ways, we might regard this as the latest act of a tortured genius in the great tradition of other tortured geniuses. The nineteenth century abounded with them, from Captain Ahab and his obsessive quest of his white whale to Frenhofer, Balzac's tortured painter, and Claude Lantier, Emile Zola's novelistic representation of Cezanne. What these driven people have in common is the desire to create, to capture, and to produce something extraordinary. And yet, they all end up ruining the thing they want and destroying themselves in the process."

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Wed Dec 10 2008

Free Books, People! Free Books!

They're stationed in Madison, which doesn't really make them local, but Bleak House Books has published some local works, most notably the great Chicago Blues, which I reviewed two Octobers ago. So, I feel sufficiently justified in linking to them here, especially when it's for the purpose of spreading the word that they're offering free books this holiday season. You pay for shipping, but that's it! Nothing else! There are a few things that are unavailable, so be sure to read the website carefully for what you can get and the rules for getting them. It's just a little bit of love from an independent publisher who's trying to spread some good words.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Dec 08 2008

Icy Indeed

The New York Times has a rather cold reaction to David Sedaris's re-released Holidays on Ice:

"Now the author has decided to take this bitters-soaked little fruitcake of a book, tack on a few extra stories from his more recent publications, garnish it with one that is entirely fresh and wrap the whole thing in a shiny new jacket. Well, pardon me for feeling as if I've been regifted!"

Veronica Bond

News Fri Dec 05 2008

No Coast Bookstore

Time Out Chicago has a nice write up of the new No Coast bookstore in Pilsen:

"And that's what makes No Coast such an intriguing contribution to the city right now--aside from Quimby's in Wicker Park, no space offers the kind of diversity in stock, and certainly not on the South Side. The studio also offers a series of open workshops and a monthly screenprinting 'lock-in,' where studio members are available for 24 hours to teach the craft. The space has played host to screenings, music shows (including one to launch the store, pictured above), and will help launch the latest Eye Rocket zine on December 11 at 7pm."

Veronica Bond

News Tue Dec 02 2008

And the Bidding Starts...Now!

Open Books's holiday auction is now open for bidding. Check out the wide variety of items here.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Dec 02 2008

Let's Hope It's Just a Coincidence

I've been trying to curb my Obama-related literary postings now that it's been some time since the election has passed, but it seems like you just can't get away from one person or other either commenting on how Obama will increase literature awareness or how some previously published book relates, in some cases quite marginally, to his election. This story in the Guardian does the latter. Apparently a Brazilian writer published a serialized novel in 1926 in which a black politician is elected the 88th President of the United States. While existence of the book, in itself, is not particularly noteworthy, except maybe for the fact that it was published so long ago, what is worth noting is that the book was conveniently republished around election time, with the disclaimer that "any resemblance to actual events is pure coincidence," and was a hit. Well, that's making the market work for you. The fact that the story's protagonist and our President share a similar skin color is merely a coincidence, but I hope it's the only one - in the story this President is found dead on the day of his inauguration. I can't say I'd find reading that kind of thing comforting in the coming days.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Nov 28 2008

All I Want for Xmas Is...

Local authors Sean Chercover and Wendy McClure have some suggestions for gifts this holiday season (bet you can't guess what they are!):

Says Chercover: "Okay, I know that we're all in for some serious belt-tightening, but here's the thing: You will probably buy a few Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa gifts for your loved ones this year. You may not be as lavish as in years past, but you'll probably buy something, right?

"Right. So please, make that something a book."

(Check out the comments section, too, where Chercover makes an interesting point about gift cards, something I hadn't considered before.)

And says McClure: "Even if there's only one book on your holiday shopping list, buy it new, and even better, buy it from a brick-and-mortar bookseller that you'd miss if it weren't around, because it's been coming to that lately for a lot of places. Booksellers might have to wear barrels, people!"

(There is a person celebrating an all-book gift exchange in her comments - how I wish my work would adopt this idea. If I could count on my secret Santa actually asking me what I wanted, I might participate in the gift exchange instead of just sitting there like a Scrooge while everyone opens their presents.)

Veronica Bond

News Mon Nov 24 2008

NYT on CHI

The New York Times comments, rather laudatorily, on The Chicagoan:

"And throughout its run the magazine took it upon itself to defend Chicago from those who claimed it was overrun by crime, it stank, its government was corrupt, its streets were wind-beaten. So went the litany at the time. 'Chicago,' declared one editorial, 'happens to be, by common consent of the writing gentry, the Gomorrah of the moment.' The magazine thundered against such calumny, defending the city's 'gusto and glamour' in issue after issue."

Veronica Bond

News Mon Nov 24 2008

Diaries of Susan Sontag to be Published

The diaries of University of Chicago graduate Susan Sontag will be published in three installments, beginning in December (according to Amazon). The first will be Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963, which begins when Sontag was just 14 and reveals the development of her bisexual orientation. The diaries have been compiled by Sontag's only son, David Rieff, who speaks of the difficulties of compiling such personal material in this Independent article.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Nov 20 2008

A Message from Joe Meno

Check out this YouTube video of Joe Meno discussing and reading from his upcoming novel The Great Perhaps:

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Tue Nov 18 2008

We Don't Need No New Yorker

Years ago there was a magazine called The Chicagoan, a competitor of The New Yorker covering arts and culture in our city. The magazine had been forgotten for some time until historian Neil Harris discovered some long-lost issues hiding the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library. His subsequent research on the magazine can be found in the newly published The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age. Cory Doctorow clearly loves it, as does Julia Keller at the Tribune. It sure would make an impressive addition to one's coffee table collection, wouldn't it?

Veronica Bond

News Tue Nov 18 2008

Obama the Next Oprah?

More speculations on what our soon-to-be president will do for literature. For one thing, a black president? No longer a courageous work of fiction. [via]

The Sun-Times gets in on it too with thoughts on an Obama book club. Sure, Obama's interest in literature might spark an increase in national interest in literature, but would you read Thucydides just because you saw it in the President's hands? (I'd like to be all snobbish and say that the presidency would have no effect on my literary interests whatsoever, but you know, I just might be convinced to dig out my old copies of the Greek lit too.)

Veronica Bond

News Sat Nov 15 2008

Will Obama Change Literature?

Newcity speculates:

"But will Obama's election have some impact on literary culture? The bare-bone facts bode well. Obama does not just respect language: he is an accomplished writer. His two memoirs are remarkable for their craft and complexity. More importantly, Obama's story--the biracial son of an immigrant raised partly in Indonesia, educated at Harvard, proposing social reform--will, briefly, but triumphantly, become the nation's own. He could radically return the country's narrative back to possibility and promise, and away from punishment and division."

Veronica Bond

News Wed Nov 12 2008

Impac Dublin Longlist Announced

The longlist for the Impac Dublin prize has been announced. Any fiction books that have been published in English, including those that have been translated into English, are eligible to be nominated for the prize by libraries around the world. Among the 147 contenders are Chicago authors J.M. Coetzee for Diary of a Bad Year, Philip Roth for Exit Ghost and Joshua Ferris with our 2009 Book Club selection Then We Came to the End. Check out the full list of nominees at the Guardian.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Nov 07 2008

Obama's #1...and #2

Three days after the election, Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father are #1 and #2, respectively, on Amazon's bestsellers list. The new book Change We Can Believe In comes in at #11. Dreams from My Father is holding steady at #2 at Powell's with The Audacity of Hope moving up to #15. Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble lists Hope at #1, Dreams at #2, Change at #3, the hardcover publication of Hope at #7 and the new Barack Obama in His Own Words at #8. Seems that winning the presidency is good for your book sales.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Nov 06 2008

Farewell Michael Chrichton

It's weird, but I always kind of think of Michael Chrichton as a YA author. I suppose that this is because I was in middle school when I was introduced to his books and began reading them heavily. I don't think I've picked up a Chrichton since graduating high school, certainly not in my post-college years, but I still think of him fondly as one of the first "grown-up" authors I loved. I was saddened to hear of his death yesterday at the age of 66. Here are some obituaries and memories of the man who brought us The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park and ER:


Associate Press

LA Times

The Guardian

New York Times

Gawker

Washington Post

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Television Without Pity

Veronica Bond

News Thu Nov 06 2008

Our Native Son

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Barack Obama's victory during post-election coverage on ABC:

"This is Joe Lewis, it's Jackie Robinson, and it's sort of the opposite of what the great African-American novelist Richard Wright wrote in his book, I think it was Native Son, where the character, Bigger, in that book is walking down the street, I think it was written about the South Side of Chicago, and he had no hope and he had no prospects and he knew that growing up African-American in an urban area, in a society that was governed and dominated by whites, that at the time legally prevented him from having opportunities, he didn't have the kind of hope and opportunity that he should have had. And there's a plane that flies overhead in that novel and he looks up at that plane and he says, 'Fly that plane, white boy. Fly that plane,'* because he knew it couldn't possibly be an African-American flying the plane in the late 1940s. Now look where we are today. And if that young boy in that novel was walking down the street today, he could look up to the sky and he could dream big dreams and all he's got to do is see Barack Obama and he could say, 'Everything's possible in America if you believe and if you're willing to work hard and believe in the American dream.' And as President-elect Obama just said, 'Yes we can.'"

[*Actually, Bigger says, "I could fly one of them things if I had a chance." But I only know that because I looked it up, so I'll cut the Governor some slack.]

Veronica Bond

News Thu Nov 06 2008

English Lesson of the Day: Anaphora

Interested in learning more about Barack Obama's speaking and writing style? Listen to this 2004 Eight Forty-Eight interview with DePaul English Professor Gerald Mulderig.

[Full disclosure: I'm currently taking Mulderig's class, during which we studied the style elements of Obama's 2004 and 2008 DNC speeches. Remarked the Prof. after we heard his final comment, "Thank God I said that."]

Veronica Bond

News Wed Nov 05 2008

1st Draft of History

In this MSNBC article, Newberry Library Vice President James Grossman, among other historians, gives his first take on the Obama victory:

"It is impossible to understate the symbolic significance of a nation with our past choosing an African-American to our highest position of leadership. The message to black children is unmistakable. The message to white children is different, but equally unmistakable. To one we are saying: 'yes you can.' To the other, we are saying 'yes they can.'"

Veronica Bond

News Wed Nov 05 2008

Better Know Obama

In the wake of the election, President-elect Obama's (I am still in awe each time I say that) book The Audacity of Hope is back up to #3 on Amazon's bestseller list. His 2004 memoir, Dreams from My Father, is up at #8 in paperback and #12 in hardcover. Powell's lists Dreams from My Father as the #2 bestseller today, with the audio version of The Audacity of Hope at #20. The Sun-Times lists an influx of books that are being published about the Prez-elect.

Accordingly, the Telegraph reports that Obama's Scottish publisher, Canongate Publishing, is set to strike gold. Over at the Guardian Books Blog, Obama's speaking style was analyzed yesterday and today they comment on how his exceptional writing ability speaks well for his ability to lead. You can also check out this July Salon article to learn what's lining his bookshelves.

As Stephen Colbert might say, it's a good time to better know your future president. (The Book Club better knew Obama back in October 2007.)

Veronica Bond

News Wed Nov 05 2008

Working in Graphics

Powell's reports that Studs Terkel's Working will be translated into a graphic novel by Harvey Pekar, slated to be released in 2009.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Nov 04 2008

A Season for Bradbury

It may seem that I stumbled upon this a few days too late: the Guardian published an article last Thursday on literary ways to celebrate Halloween, namely through the stories of Ray Bradbury. "[The] real Hallowen feeling - ," they say, "the onset of an extended period of darkness heralded by the death and decay of the natural word and a seemingly thinner veil between what we know and what we fear - can only be delivered by Ray Bradbury." And while it is true that Bradbury has a knack for delivering up the unknown and the feared and the shaded truths of life, I'd say that no time is not a good time to delve into some Bradbury. The plot in "The Murderer" is frightening simple for its resemblance to modern reality: in a world where electronic noise - phones, televisions, radios - is constant, a man is imprisoned for wanting some silence. (To think that this was written in 1953...) Are the words and motions that we associate with love the same as love itself? This is the question Bradbury poses in "I Sing the Body Electric!" Yes, there is the perennially spooky Something Wicked This Way Comes, with the appropriately named Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade and Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show, but you can never really go wrong with any of his story collections or novels (might I recommend our September 2005 selection, Dandelion Wine, one of my all time, top 5 with a bullet, desert island, favorite books?). Just don't wait until next Halloween to find that out.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Nov 03 2008

Orange Alert Special Offer

Throughout the month of November, Orange Alert Press is offering free shipping on orders of their debut publication Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine by local author Ben Tanzer. The first ten orders of the month will receive signed copies of the book and all orders in November will receive a limited edition Orange Alert Press pin by MidwestLove Art & Design, a chapbook from Kendra Steiner Editions and a copy of their mix tape Orange Pulp. It's a pretty sweet deal. The orders must be placed through Orange Alert's website - you've got 27 more days to claim your copy.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Nov 03 2008

Studs Remembered

There are a multitude of newspapers and blogs reporting on the death of Studs Terkel, remembering his contributions not just to literature, but to society overall. For most, as it is for all of us in Chicago, it is a personal loss. Here are just a few of the people offering their tributes:


Sun-Times

Edward Champion

The Guardian

Pete Lit

Paul Soglin

StevenHartSite

Dennis Kucinich

Neil Steinberg

Everyday Citizen

Time Out Chicago

Huffington Post

Oxdown Gazette

LA Times

Chicago Reader

My Cool Job

The Independent

The Outfit

Chicago Carless

Reading Circle Books

Today's Chicago Blues

NPR

Veronica Bond

News Fri Oct 31 2008

Curiousity Did Not Kill This Cat

As reported on main page, Studs Terkel has passed away. Please read the Chicago Tribune obituary by long-time friend Rick Kogan.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Oct 28 2008

NaNoWriMo: 3 Days and Counting

NaNoWriMo_logo.gifNational Novel Writing Month is approaching fast and writers across the country are getting ready to write 50,000-word novels in the span of November's 30 days. Sure, you've got your paper, your pens and pencils, your laptop and your Mr. Coffee ready to go, but how ready are you to write? If you're having trouble at the starting line or find yourself lagging through the middle, here are some local sources of inspiration:

  • NaNoWriMo's offical site has separate sites for specific regions. On ChiWriMo you can post questions and thoughts to the forums and get responses from local writers, share photos through flickr, participate in a live chat, find writing resources and keep up to date on NaNoWriMo events.

  • Story Studio Chicago offers Write-a-Thons where you can come and write for a full 12 hours in their studio space. The Write-a-Thons aren't free, but the $12 admission includes wireless internet access, snacks, drinks, manuscript reviews and exercise breaks so you're really getting your money's worth. This year's Write-a-Thon will be on Saturday, November 22, from 9am-9pm at 4043 N. Ravenswood, #222.

  • There are currently no MeetUp Groups for local NaNoWriMo participants, but who says you can't be the person to start one? Go meet some other writers to share your progress and commiserate over the inevitable writer's block.

  • Open Books has a series of NaNoWriMo events, starting with a kick-off brunch on November 1 and ending with a 15-hour grand finale write-fest on November 30, with several write-ins in between. All of Open Books's events are free at their River North location, 213 W. Institute Place, Suite 305.

  • Finally, check out NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty's book No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days and the accompanying Novel-Writing Kit. Baty, a University of Chicago graduate, started NaNoWriMo in 1999.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Mon Oct 27 2008

Sedaris on the Undecided

David Sedaris has a piece in this week's New Yorker musing about undecided voters and his own history with voting:

"I look at these people and can't quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

"To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. 'Can I interest you in the chicken?' she asks. 'Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?'

"To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

"I mean, really, what's to be confused about?"

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Fri Oct 17 2008

Alaa al Aswany in TOC

Time Out Chicago talks to Egyptian writer Alaa al Aswany whose latest book, Chicago: A Novel, revists his time as a student at the University of Illinois:

"It was my only dream to be a novelist...I had this intention to open my eyes, to understand, to meet people. In Chicago, I didn't just learn dentistry. One of the most important aspects of American culture to me was learning how to analyze exactly what you want."

You can hear al Aswany further discuss his work on Monday when he joins Victoria Lautmann for Writers on the Record at the Harold Washington Library.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Oct 16 2008

Local National Book Award Finalists

The Sun-Times reports that local author Aleksandar Hemon and local poets Reginald Gibbons and Patricia Smith are finalists for the National Book Award.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Mon Oct 13 2008

A New Generation of Superheroes

The Sun-Times talks briefly to Sam Weller about the cast of superheroes he created for the new book Who Can Save Us Now? Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories. The book is a collection of short stories that put a twist on the traditional superhero story.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Sep 09 2008

Does CPL Have It? Search the Catalog from Anywhere

Are you trying to save a few extra pennies these days? Or maybe you just want to dust off that old resolution to "use the library more." Well, using the Chicago Public Library just got even easier.

Ian Olsen-Clark, the man who brought us the original Chicago Public Library bookmarklet, has created a new and improved catalog search bookmarklet that works with CPL's revamped online catalog.

See an interesting book mentioned on someone's blog, a news website or while surfing your favorite online bookstore? Before you add that book to your virtual shopping cart, highlight the title, the author or the ISBN number and click on the "CPL Catalog Look-Up" bookmarklet button in your browser to see if the Chicago Public Library has it.

If the library has it, you can find out if a copy is available at your nearest branch. If not, use the library's new online holds function to place the book on hold and have it delivered to your favorite branch for pickup.

Near instant gratification, and it's FREE. The Chicago Public Library catalog search bookmarklet is an excellent tool that will help you take advantage of CPL's many resources, enriching your life at no cost to you. That's a money-saving tip I can get behind.

Find out how to download the Chicago Public Library Look-Up bookmarklet, and spread the word.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Sep 08 2008

Help the Environment, Help Literacy

You know how Whole Foods rewards you for bringing your own shopping by giving you ten cents back on your total purchase? Now, instead of just helping the environment with your conscientiousness, you can also help improve literacy. When you go to Whole Foods now through October 31, you can request that your dime be given to Open Books, a local non-profit bookstore and literacy community. This applies to five of the Whole Foods locations in Chicago (excluding the Cicero location). It's an easy way to do two good things at one time.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Sep 04 2008

Book Site of the Week: Publishers Marketplace Bookstore Maps

Publishers Marketplace now has Bookstore Maps, an excellent new tool that allows you to find "independent, specialty, chain and college bookstores throughout the country, and survey the book retail landscape in any region." You can search by store name, state or zip code, but they also have a number of regional maps, including one for the Chicago area. The Chicago map currently lists 139 stores, from 57th Street Books in Hyde Park to Wonderland Books & Toys in Rockford, Ill. Stores are also color-coded, indicating whether it is a chain store, college bookstore, independent or specialty bookshop. Very nicely done. Check it out.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Sep 04 2008

Happy 100th Birthday, Richard Wright

I wish I could say we planned this—wait, yes, we totally planned this—but Richard Wright was born 100 years ago today. The Writer's Almanac marks the occasion, and you can celebrate with us on Monday when we meet to discuss his best-known novel, Native Son.

Alice Maggio

News Sat Aug 30 2008

Briefly Noted

Marcus Sakey and Michael Harvey both get high-fives for their latest crime novels in the Tribune.

• The Night Bookmobile makes a mysterious appearance at Wrigley Field in the latest installment of Audrey Niffenegger's illustrated story in the Guardian.

• Also, Aleksandar Hemon reads from The Lazarus Project and talks about the book in the Guardian podcast.

Alice Maggio / Comments (2)

News Sat Aug 30 2008

Rabid Fans Only

Fantagraphics is publishing a new, deluxe-edition of Ghost World, which includes annotations by Clowes, a new introduction, the Oscar-nominated screenplay by Clowes and Terry Zwigoff, and lots of ephemera from the graphic novel and the film.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Aug 27 2008

The Fifth Floor Book Trailer

Michael Harvey, author of the crime novel The Chicago Way, has a new novel coming out titled The Fifth Floor, and this promotional trailer for the book is garnering attention for its "consistent visual aesthetic," as GalleyCat described it. Check it out:

Alice Maggio

News Fri Aug 22 2008

Examination for Entrance

Do you have what it takes to be a librarian for the Chicago Public Library...circa 1925? Take the test and find out.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Aug 22 2008

Quickly Noted


• "In this one woman's book, I drew a plank. Then it looked like it would be a sign, like you'd have in a yard. So I wrote 'Abortions, $3'. She was upset, so I changed it to $13." David Sedaris talks about signing books.

Happy 88th Birthday, Ray Bradbury.

• "Hemon parlayed his experience into English that manages to be laconic, springy and brilliantly off-centre. It tastes unforgettable, like pickles or asparagus." The Independent reviews The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Aug 19 2008

Remembering Richard Wright

Funny how these stories pop up just as we're reading the book.

NPR talks to daughter Julia Wright about her father's legacy and his posthumously published work, A Father's Law. The site also has a short excerpt from the book.

In the Washington Post, a friend of Richard Wright's also looks back on the author's legacy, recalling that while he was living in Paris, Wright confided, "I'm a Negro. I'm a former communist. I'm married to a woman who's not only white but a Jewess. I'm trying to live in a country whose language I'll never really learn. Small wonder I have enemies!"

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 18 2008

"I stood at the corner of Ravenswood and Belle Plaine for six hours, by myself"

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger continues in the Guardian. Read the series so far.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 18 2008

Contemporary Crime Writing

Rick Kogan has a nice profile of Chicago crime writers Marcus Sakey and Sean Chercover. Both novelists have new books out. Sakey's Good People is now in stores while Chercover's Trigger City is due to hit shelves in October.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 18 2008

Transitions Bookplace Closes

Transitions Bookplace has closed. The Chicago Tribune has an eulogy.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Aug 07 2008

GB Book Club Connects Readers

The Gapers Block Book Club is named as one of the "100 Places to Connect with Other Bibliophiles Online." You can find us in the blogs category, but be sure to visit some of the other great resources listed.

You can connect with us online here anytime, but remember you can also connect with us in-person this Monday, August 11, when we meet at The Book Cellar to talk about our current book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Hope to see you there.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Aug 07 2008

CPL Has Right Stuff

Okay, the headline is cliché. But last week the Chicago Public Library announced The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe for the Fall 2008 selection of the "One Book, One Chicago" program. Check out the link above because there are lots of copies still available. Grab them while you can.

To celebrate, the city is screening the 1983 film version of The Right Stuff, starring Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid and Sam Shepard, at Grant Park on Thursday, August 14 at 8pm. Visit the library website for more information.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Aug 05 2008

Elizabeth Berg, Dunkin' Donuts and Oprah

Elizabeth Berg talks about her recent story collection The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted, doughnuts and how Oprah acted a sign that she needed to move to Chicago.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Aug 05 2008

Author of Loving Frank Talks to Trib

Oak Park native Nancy Horan was recently profiled in the Tribune, and there are some wise words for all beginning writers:

"What set Horan's life going in an entirely new direction was the moment she sat down with a yellow legal pad and a pen and began to tell a story. What truly mattered was the moment she decided that—long odds be damned—she would write about what intrigued her, in the way she wanted to, and try to get it published."

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jul 31 2008

New Art from Niffenegger

Audrey Niffenegger has a comic running in the Guardian called The Night Bookmobile.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jul 31 2008

Trib Readers Respond

The Trib published some responses it received from its request for feedback about the (likely endangered) Books section. Responders include author Sara Paretsky and Roberta Rubin of the The Book Stall in Winnetka.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jul 24 2008

Dorothy the Modern Heroine

Dorothy the New Woman? In a timely article, the Guardian UK writes about The Wizard of Oz, our current book club selection:

"Dorothy in the book is definitely a modern heroine, if not a New Woman; she is the predecessor of many a plucky, stoic, staunch girl lead — neither a milksop nor a tomboy, but a little girl who embarks on her adventures in a spirit of curiosity, wonder and self-reliance."

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jul 24 2008

James Wood on Alexander Hemon

James Wood writes a major critique of Alexander Hemon for the New Yorker:

"Hemon’s fiction has always been daring: Nowhere Man uses three or maybe four different narrators to rub in the silhouette of Jozef Pronek’s complicated life. The Lazarus Project is in some ways bolder still. It alternates chapters describing Brik’s travels with chapters imagining Lazarus Averbuch’s existence in the early twentieth century. It is both a historical fiction and an inquiry into the limits of historical fictionalizing."

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jul 23 2008

Eric & Rachel = Henry & Clare?

It's official: the oft-talked about Brad-Pitt-and-Jennifer-Aniston-owned movie version of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife is slated for release on Christmas of this year. Playing the lead rolls of Henry and Clare are Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, neither of which I'd ever have imagined for the roles although both are sure to make this interesting and moving story sufficiently saccharine for the general movie-going public. I suppose I should just be happy that Brad and Jen were never in the runnings themselves.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Jul 21 2008

Writing on the Wall

The Tribune-owned L.A. Times is cutting its books section. The last standalone books section will appear in the July 27 paper. Former L.A. Times book editors have already written a protest letter. This begs the question: How long before the Chicago Tribune books section is also history?

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jul 17 2008

A Wake for Kate

Last month I reported that Kate the Great's Book Emporium is closing on July 25. Tomorrow the bookshop is having a wake, of sorts, with live music and readings, beginning at 7pm. Plus, all remaining books now are priced from $1-3. So stop by tomorrow to bid farewell to a plucky indie bookstore that, unfortunately, didn't survive. Kate the Great's Book Emporium. 5550 N. Broadway Ave.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jul 08 2008

It's the Best Ever

The Telegraph lists its "50 Best Ever Summer Holiday Books." Picks include The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jul 08 2008

Obama Reads

Laura Miller wants you to know that Barack Obama reads serious books.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jul 08 2008

And We're Done

David Sedaris buys a tote bag.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jul 02 2008

Begin the 'Save the Books Section' Campaign Now

Folks at the Tribune are trying to muster reader support for the Books section, possibly to protect it from the axe as the newspaper restructures. If you care about local books coverage, go drop them a line now.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jul 02 2008

Patrick Hemingway Turns 80

Ernest Hemingway's son Patrick is turning 80 years old. NPR has an interview.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Jun 27 2008

Good-bye Trib Books Section?

Rachel Deahl at Publisher's Weekly is worried that the planned Tribune redesign could spell the death of the Books section.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Jun 27 2008

Azizi Books

Bookselling This Week profiles Azizi Books, an African-American bookstore that opened in Matteson, IL, about 30 miles south of Chicago, this past November. The store is owned by Kevin Roberts and his daughter Maia. In BTW, Maia explains, "Our overall mission was to create a place that would expose and enlighten the community to the many books that speak to the African-American experience, and bring some community spirit back into the neighborhood at the same time."

They also have a bookstore blog. Read the post from Maia about why they chose Lincoln Mall in Matteson for the store's location. This is why I love local businesses.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Jun 20 2008

Lovable Losers Essay Contest

The Lovable Losers Literary Revue is hosting an essay contest for fans of Chicago's lovable losers (a.k.a. the Cubs). Tune in this Sunday to "Memories of the Game" on WRMN, 1410-AM, scheduled to air from Noon to 5pm, to hear some of the best entries received so far. The contest continues through the summer and will conclude with at the Revue's September event with Rick Kogan. If you want to share your favorite story about life as a Cub's fan, visit the website to find out how to enter.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Jun 20 2008

Kate the Great's Book Emporium, RIP

Chicago is losing another indie bookshop. Kate the Great's is closing July 25. Right now they are having a going out of business sale. All used books are 50 percent off. Visit Kate the Great's while you still can at 5550 N. Broadway.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jun 19 2008

Two More, Then I'm Done

Okay, I lied.

But this interview with David Sedaris at the New Haven Advocate has the best-worst title ever: "He Talk Pretty."

And St. Louis really, really loves Sedaris. Check out the crowds that camped out on the street for his reading at Left Bank Books on Wednesday.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jun 19 2008

100 Years of Being Wright

Did you know 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of author Richard Wright? Through a happy coincidence we are reading his acclaimed novel Native Son for our September book club meeting. The Times Literary Supplement recently featured a biographical article about Wright, where you can learn about his exile to France and the possible reasons why he's been neglected by critics since his death in 1960. [via]

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jun 17 2008

Watch the Video, Read the Book

How often does the Book Club have a reason to link to a video on YouTube? Not very. In fact, this is a first. But you have every reason to watch this neat video using photos and snippets from The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon. [via]

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jun 12 2008

Two Quickies

• Its recent collection of four classic Philip K. Dick novels has turned out to be the Library of America's fastest-selling title ever, even easily beating Jack Kerouac.

• The Onion A.V. Club has a review of Such a Pretty Fat, the latest book by Jen Lancaster, which begins by saying, "Chicago-based memoirist Jen Lancaster would make a shitty diet coach."

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jun 11 2008

News in Brief

Books and writers with a Chicago connection in the news:

• Eliot Asinof, author of the book Eight Men Out about the Chicago Black Sox scandal of 1919, has passed away. [via]

• Chicago-born rapper Common has started The Corner Book Club for teens through his Common Ground Foundation. Currently the online book group is reading Long Way Gone, Memoirs of A Boy Soldier by Ishmaell Beah.

• Nancy Horan, the author of Loving Frank, a fictionalized account of Frank Lloyd Wright's love affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, talks about how she was "concerned that those who revere Wright's work might be angry that her novel would tarnish his legacy." [via]

• What would you do if a policeman offered you any book from Ernest Hemingway's library for $200?

• Andy Austin, author of Rule 53: Capturing Hippies, Spies, Politicians and Murderers in an American Courtroom, is interviewed about her 40 years as a courtroom sketch artist for Smithsonian Magazine. [via]

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jun 11 2008

Last David Sedaris Post....Really

The Boston Globe just joined the party with its review of When You Are Engulfed in Flames, the latest essay collection by serial memoirist David Sedaris, saying "Much the way that Celine Dion will never run out of hot air or Middle America will never lose its appetite for funnel cakes, so it seems that David Sedaris will never lose his ability to recall the most minute details of his curious North Carolina childhood."

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jun 10 2008

Top 10 Books Owned by Chicagoans

...on LibraryThing.com. What does this list say about us?

1. 1984 by George Orwell
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
5. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
7. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jun 09 2008

More David Sedaris

As we wrap up our month of David Sedaris tonight, here are a few more Sedaris items in the news:

NPR talks about his new book When You Are Engulfed in Flames and has an excerpt.

• Read an interview with Sedaris at Entertainment Weekly in which he responds to criticism about his exaggeration of facts in his work.

• Sedaris also recently talked to Newsweek about his current U.S. book tour.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jun 03 2008

More Vonnegut

The Quarterly Conversation has a review of Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut in its latest issue, and notes, "Armageddon in Retrospect stands as a vantage point from which to survey Vonnegut's life's work, and his work has always been about war. Against war, to be precise; this book can be considered the devoted pacifist's final diatribe on his favorite subject."

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jun 03 2008

50 Best Cult Books

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut tops the list of 50 Best Cult Books from the critics at the Telegraph.

Alice Maggio

News Thu May 29 2008

Two Interviews with Aleksandar Hemon

Aleksandar Hemon resists labels, according to the Los Angeles Times. The writer talks to the Times about his new book, The Lazarus Project and says, "What I like about literature are the transformative possibilities."

• Powells.com also has an excellent, lengthy interview with Hemon talking about The Lazarus Project. He tells the interviewer, "Memory is always incomplete. We always add things to it. It's impossible to perfectly remember things that happen to us."

Alice Maggio

News Wed May 28 2008

Recent Reviews, Quickly Noted

• Last week the Tribune reviewed Elizabeth Berg's new story collection, The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted, and declared, "You love these stories. You ride their waves. You think you're in for an afternoon of sweet distraction, but soon a certain gravity sets in. Soon you're admiring not just Berg's quick-fire prose, but her compassion and her clarity, her capacity for twining pathos into comedy, for making her readers care."

• The Independent looks at Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut and says, "In a time of war and nightmare, Vonnegut's last works remind us that we can always simply say no to the whole horrible business."

Alice Maggio

News Thu May 15 2008

Lit Birthday

Author L. Frank Baum was born today, May 15, in 1856. We will be reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz this summer for our August meeting. For fun, check out the fabulous digitized collection of "Oziana" from the University of Minnesota Libraries.

Alice Maggio

News Tue May 06 2008

Weekend Reviews

Round-up of recent reviews of books with a local angle:

• Both The Seattle Times and the Chicago Tribune review The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon. Seattle writes that Hemon "delivers a startling finish with a poignant twist," while the Trib calls him "a majestic talent."

• The Trib also reviews some recent mystery novels by local authors.

Armageddon in Retrospect, a collection of previously unpublished work by Kurt Vonnegut, gets the review treatment in The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Alice Maggio

News Mon May 05 2008

New Short Fiction Online

Local author Keir Graff, who is also a senior editor at Booklist Online, has a new short story in the May issue of Booklist. The publication, which has been around for more than 100 years, reviews new books, but this is the first time it has published a story. "Reading is My Business" is described by the author as "a hard-boiled metafiction about book reviewing—with a very local angle," and you can read the complete text online.

Find out more about the "story behind the story" at Graff's Booklist blog.

Alice Maggio

News Thu May 01 2008

Free Comics

Yes, Free Comic Book Day is here again. Stop by participating stores this Saturday, May 3, to get your fee comic book. Use the official store locater to find a retailer near you.

But, there are two great reasons to make Chicago Comics your stop for Free Comic Book Day on Saturday: local comics artist Jeffrey Brown and former Disney animator Christian Slade will be in-store signing books and comics from noon to 4pm.

Chicago Comics is located at 3244 N. Clark St. Call them at 773-528-1983 or visit the website for more info.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Apr 30 2008

Society of Midland Authors Award Winners

The Society of Midland Authors recently announced the winners of its annual awards. SMA is open "to authors who live in, were born in, or have strong ties to" states throughout the Midwest, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. This year's award winners and runners-up include several writers from the Chicagoland area, including Judith Testa, who won in the biography category for her book Sal Maglie: Baseball's Demon Barber, and Tony Romano, a finalist in the adult fiction category for his novel When the World Was Young.

The awards banquet will be held on Tuesday, May 13, at the Hotel InterContinental. It is open to the public. Tickets are $60. You can find out more on the website.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Apr 30 2008

Making Dandelion Wine

Ray Bradbury's classic novel Dandelion Wine was our September 2005 book club selection. Now you can make your own dandelion wine thanks to WikiHow. According to the tutorial's author, April and May are the best months for harvesting dandelions. This depends, however, on whether you are able to find a lawn or field in the Chicagoland area that still supports dandelions. Most spots have been thoroughly poisoned with pesticides and weedkiller.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Apr 29 2008

A New Look at the 1968 Democratic Convention

Battleground Chicago by Frank Kusch has been republished by the University of Chicago Press to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the 1968 Democratic Convention. Find out more about the book at the UofC Press website, and even read an excerpt.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Apr 29 2008

Rereading Vonnegut

Benjamin Kunkel is rereading Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut and writes about it for the Guardian, calling the book "a funny and despairing vision of the last judgment done in comic-book style."

Alice Maggio

News Mon Apr 28 2008

The End of The Long Goodbye

Chicago's Outfit Collective has been blogging about Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye all month, ever since the Chicago Public Library picked the book as the spring 2008 "One Book, One Chicago" selection. This weekend Barbara D’Amato wrapped up the series of posts with an examination of Chandler's writing and revision process.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Apr 28 2008

Speaking of Hemon...

The Washington Post has an early review of The Lazarus Project, and the reviewer calls the structure of the novel "ingenious."

Alice Maggio

News Thu Apr 17 2008

Best Lines in Literature

American Book Review compiled a list of the 100 best first lines from novels. The opening lines from Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Herzog by Saul Bellow, recent book club selection Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, plus many more writers with a local connection made the list.

Alice Maggio / Comments (1)

News Thu Apr 17 2008

Recent Stories

Chicago-related lit news and reviews from around the web:

• The Chicago Tribune reviews More Than a Dream: The Cristo Rey Story: How One School's Vision Is Changing the World by G.R. Kearney, about Chicago's Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, and says "what is most notable about the book is its honest willingness to leave all the warts on the story."

• Jane Dailey also looks at Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets
by Sudhir Venkatesh in the Trib
, and believes Venkatesh "romanticizes the drug world."

• "Mr. Wonderful" by Daniel Clowes, which was serialized in the New York Times, has been nominated for an Eisner Award in the "Best Short Story" category. Chris Ware is also nominated for no less than three awards for Acme Novelty Library #18, Best American Comics 2007 and Sundays with Walt and Skeezix.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Apr 10 2008

100 Best Books?

The Telegraph claims to have designed the perfect library, consisting of just 110 books. Titles are broken down by genre, from classics to literary fiction to sci-fi and children's books. A few writers with local connections made the list, including Ernest Hemingway, Philip Roth and past book club selection Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Check out the full list here.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Apr 09 2008

Jeffrey Eugenides in the New Yorker

Perfectly coinciding with our reading Middlesex this month, Jeffrey Eugenides has a new story in a recent issue of the New Yorker. And, the story is set in Chicago. I expect everyone to be prepared to discuss it on Monday, in addition to Middlesex.

Just kidding.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Apr 08 2008

Summer Residency at Poetry Center of Chicago

The Poetry Center of Chicago is accepting applications for its summer residency program. According to the Center's guidelines, one poet will be awarded a month-long poetry residency with housing. This residency is open to poets who have published no more than one book of poetry, not including self-published work. In addition to housing, the poet will receive a $1,000 stipend. The poet is responsible for his/her own travel and meal expenses. The submission deadline is Friday, May 9, 2008. You can download the application from the Poetry Center website here.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Apr 08 2008

Recent News

Time to close a few bookmarks. Here is some recent book news and reviews with a Chicago connection from around the web:

• The Chicago Tribune reviews Easy Innocence, a new mystery by local author Libby Fischer Hellman.

• The Denver Post reviews Windy City, the new political novel by Scott Simon, and calls it "nothing less than a passionate love letter to Chicago and its political machine."

Sara Paretsky talks to the Independent about everything from obesity to embryo research to Barack Obama as Bleeding Kansas is published in the UK.

• Tony D'Souza writes a long essay about Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee for the NBCC blog, in which he argues that the novel is "the definitive work on South Africa’s present state."

Alice Maggio

News Tue Apr 08 2008

New Ink Topic: E-Books

I've been MIA the last few weeks, mostly laid up in bed with a nasty flu and feeling very sorry for myself. But that's in the past, and we're overdue for a new question in Ink.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the last question about donating books. I was not aware of the community boxes someone mentioned, and I wholeheartedly endorse donating to the Newberry Library Book Fair, although in my personal experience, the book fair has a tendency to expand my book inventory more than it lessens it.

But this time I want to hear about e-books and e-book readers. Amazon.com claims it cannot keep up with demand for its Kindle e-book device, yet I don't know anyone who owns one. Do you? Do you read e-books or own an e-book reader? Why or why not? Leave your comments above in Ink.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Mar 14 2008

Recent Stories

• Joshua Ferris is adapting his critically acclaimed novel Then We Came to the End for HBO.

• Scott Simon has written a new novel titled Windy City: A Novel of Politics. You earn no points for correctly guessing the story takes place in Chicago. The Washington Post has a review and says the book, "for all its emphasis on the sausage-factory venality of big-city politics, seems intended mainly as a big, sloppy valentine to the cultural jambalaya that is 21st-century Chicago." Awww. NPR also recently talked to Simon about the novel, and not only can you listen to the interview online, but you can also read the first chapter of Windy City.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Mar 14 2008

Other Local Book Clubs

Don't like the Gapers Block Book Club? Just want to try something new? Centerstage has a round-up of a few other local book clubs. For even more options, try Reader's Circle, an online database of book groups around the world, all contributed by users. Hey, we're listed there, although, ahem, I might need to update our entry.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Mar 06 2008

Reviews, Reviews and More Reviews

• The Boston Globe has a review of Bleeding Kansas, the latest novel by Sara Paretsky, saying it "may not be a conventional mystery, but it is a suspenseful page-turner nonetheless."

• Both the Boston Globe and the Independent review Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh. The Globe says Venkatesh's account of his infiltration of Chicago's Black Kings "is best read as a memoir and not as a political manifesto or a sociological study," while the Independent gushes that "Venkatesh has written a work whose intellectual depth and immense humanity have few parallels in social science."

• Bookslut reviews Ellington Boulevard by Adam Langer in its March issue, and explains that the novel is "a very different sort of book from Langer's earlier efforts: less personal, more full of spectacle, but ultimately one of the most enjoyable stories in recent memory."

Alice Maggio

News Tue Mar 04 2008

Meet the New Chicago Public Library

What a difference a day makes. The Chicago Public Library has unveiled a radical web makeover. The shiny new website also includes a new online catalog that is faster, prettier and more user-friendly than the old, clunky search. And, finally, library users can place holds on materials through the online catalog. See something you want? Just click "Place on Hold" and enter your library account information, and the item can be sent to your nearest branch library for pickup. Awesome—and long overdue. Congratulations, CPL!

Alice Maggio

News Mon Mar 03 2008

Dwight Okita - The Next Breakthrough Novelist

Local author and playwright Dwight Okita is one of ten finalists for Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award with his novel The Prospect of My Arrival. Set in Chicago in 2025, the novel follows the consciousness of a fetus that has been inserted into the body of a 30-year-old man who must now decide whether or not to be born. You can read excerpts of this book and the work of the other nine finalists on the Amazon page and then vote for your favorite. The winner gets a publishing contract with Penguin to market and publish their work. That's a pretty sweet prize and it's kind of nice that the authors don't have to move into one house together and have their petty squabbles videotaped only to be voted out one at a time week by week. Don't get any ideas, Bravo. (Thanks for sending us the info, Mark!)

Veronica Bond

News Fri Feb 29 2008

New Mini-Books

Need a quick read? Featherproof has two new mini-books for you to choose from: Women/Girls by Amelia Gray and In the Dream, by Jay Ponteri. Print, fold, staple and you're on your way.

Veronica Bond

News Wed Feb 27 2008

The Award for Whitest Suit Goes To...

...Tom Wolfe. Also going to Tom Wolfe is this year's Chicago Public Library Carl Sandburg Award, although the award won't actually be given until October, during the Chicago Book Festival. I wonder what Wolfe will wear to the ceremony.

Veronica Bond

News Sat Feb 23 2008

Bet on Books, Help Out Kids

The Morning News starts its fourth annual Tournament of Books on March 7, and Coudal Partners has opened the betting window. Lay $10 on the line for whichever book you think has what it takes to win it all, and you could be one of ten bettors to win a "huge prize package" (contents to be named later, but judging from past Coudal contests, it'll be worth it).

All the proceeds will go to First Book, "a nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books." So you're not only having a little fun, but you're also helping teach kids to read. Everybody wins!

Andrew Huff

News Wed Feb 20 2008

How Do You Hide That in Your Backpack?

I understand the temptation to steal books from the library (not that I would do it or am advocating it, but I do understand a book’s inherent appeal), but a sculpture outside the library? The Sun-Times reports that the Umanita sculpture adorning the Newberry Library went missing over the weekend. The stainless steel piece, created by Chicago artist Virginio Ferrari, is six feet tall, weighs over 150 pounds and was attached to its marble base with a steel bolt - whoever wanted it clearly went through a lot of trouble to take it. With the sculpture valued at $65,000-$70,000, it’s unlikely the library would have the funds for a replacement, so don’t make it worse by forcing them to replace your stolen books, too.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Feb 19 2008

Recent Stories

• As reported on the main page, the Sun-Times has published an excerpt of James Laski's memoir My Fall From Grace: City Hall to Prison Walls. The book recalls Laski's involvement in the hired truck scandal and was written during his time in prison.

Mark Lawson compares the Oscar-nominated movie There Will Be Blood with Oil!, the Upton Sinclair novel on which it is based (Sinclair is also the author of The Jungle).

• Romance, suspense, young adult and children's book author Phyllis Whitney passed away last week. She was the children's book editor for the Chicago Sun, a predecessor of the Sun-Times and penned 76 books. Her obituary can be found in the Sun-Times and the Guardian has a nice profile of the author and her work as well.

• The University of Chicago blog gives a brief review of Hazel Rowley's new biography of Richard Wright, titled Richard Wright: The Life and Times. Join us in September when we read and discuss Native Son, one of Wright's most famous works.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Feb 18 2008

Profiling Venkatesh

The Guardian profiles the University of Chicago's Sudhir Venkatesh, whose memoir Gang Leader for a Day details his experience as a graduate student researching gangs in the Robert Taylor Homes. Venkatesh reveals why he's the "black sheep of [his] discipline," describes his research method of "hanging out," and talks about why he feels guilt but not regret.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Feb 14 2008

The Story of Love

In the Guardian, Jeffrey Eugenides traces the origin of the love story, all the way from ancient poetry of Catullus to the stories of Alice Munro, James Joyce and Vladimir Nabokov. After a year of reading and researching love stories for his collection My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead, which takes its title from one of Catullus's poems, Eugenides discovered that love itself is not necessarily the subject of a good love story:

"The happy marriage, the requited love, the desire that never dims - these are lucky eventualities, but they aren't love stories. Love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births and feuding families, on matrimonial boredom and at least one cold heart. Love stories, nearly without exception, give love a bad name."

Veronica Bond

News Tue Feb 12 2008

It's Like a Heat Wave

Our August 2005 Selection Heat Wave is coming to the stage, thanks to local playwright Steven Simoncic, Live Bait Theater and Pegasus Players. Chicago Magazine talks to both Simoncic and author Eric Klinenberg about the book's adaptation and whether a social disaster in 1995 is still relevant today. (Check out Slowdown for info on catching one of the preview shows.)

Veronica Bond

News Tue Feb 12 2008

Recent Stories

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris has just been published in the UK, and the Independent has a review.

• In the Washington Post Michael Dirda reviews My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead, edited by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Centerstage talks to Todd Dills about The2ndHand.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Feb 12 2008

Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships

Five Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships in the amount of  $15,000 will be awarded to young poets through a national competition sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry. Established in 1989 by the Indianapolis philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the fellowships are intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry. Applicants must be us citizens between the age of twenty-one and thirty-one as of  March 31, 2008.

Visit the website for complete entry details.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Feb 11 2008

And the Award Goes to...

Congratulations to Barack Obama who picked up his second Grammy Award last night for the spoken word album of The Audactiy of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. Obama's first win came in 2005 for the spoken word album of his memoir, Dreams From My Father, the Book Club's October 2007 selection.

Veronica Bond

News Fri Feb 08 2008

More Than Worms

The University of Illinois's Rare Book & Manuscript library is dealing with a problem far worse than book worms -- mold infestation has forced it to close for several months. The Sun-Times reports that approximately 15,000 books may be affected in this collection, which includes papers from Carl Sandburg and pages from the Gutenberg Bible. The collection is valued at more than $1 billion. Thankfully, officials say the damage does not appear to be irreparable nor does the problem pose a health risk. The library is expected to close on February 25 and reopen on May 5.

Veronica Bond

News Thu Feb 07 2008

Recent Stories

• The Onion A.V. Club reviews Diary of a Bad Year.

• The Chicago Tribune reviews Adam Langer's new book, Ellington Boulevard, and declares the novel "proves that this gifted satirist and storyteller can move with ease from city to city and character to character."

• Bookslut reviews You Must Be This Happy to Enter, a new collection of stories by Elizabeth Crane.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Feb 01 2008

Recent Stories

Your occasional round-up of Chicago-related lit news from around the web:

Alex Kotlowitz debates Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh over at Slate, asking: "What do we, as writers, owe our subjects?"

• The Sun-Times books blog looks at My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead, the collection of love stories edited by upcoming book club author Jeffrey Eugenides.

• The 10th Annual Love is Murder Conference, dedicated to writers, publishers and readers of mystery and crime fiction, is going on this weekend at the Rosemont Wyndham O'Hare in Rosemont. Visit the website for all the details.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Feb 01 2008

Friday Fun: Digitized Book of the Week

The Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign has a blog showcasing digitized books from the library's collection. Recent features on Digitized Book of the Week include the Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey: Czech (1878-1924) and "Bird Observations near Chicago" by Ellen Drummond Farwell, published in 1919. Each post includes sample scans from the book, plus links to the entire digitized book in .pdf or virtual flip book form. [via]

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jan 29 2008

Recent Stories

Your occasional round-up of Chicago-related lit news from around the web:

NPR talks to Michael Harvey, author of The Chicago Way.

• Sara Paretsky has been nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award for her memoir Writing in an Age of Silence. The NBCC blog profiles the book and has an interview with Paretsky.

• The Wall Street Journal looks at the trend of loyal customers pitching in to save their local bookstores, and Chicago's Brent Books and Cards and Women & Children First both get mentions.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jan 24 2008

Recent Stories

Your occasional round-up of recent Chicago-related lit news from around the web:

• The Chicago Tribune looks at A Father's Law, the recently published, unfinished novel by Richard Wright.

The Guardian talks to Studs Terkel about his life and his memoir Touch and Go. When Gary Younge arrives at Terkel's home in Chicago, Terkel asks the British journalist, "Why was [Tony Blair] such a house boy for Bush?"

• Carol Anshaw, herself a local author, reviews Adam Langer's new novel Ellington Boulevard: A Novel in A-Flat for the L.A. Times.

• Publisher's Weekly alerts us to a new book by Richard Roeper titled Debunked! Conspiracy Theories, Urban Legends, and Evil Plots of the 21st Century. Oh, please let it be true. It is scheduled to be published by Chicago Review Press in June.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jan 16 2008

Recent Stories

Another round-up of recent Chicago-lit related stories from around the web:

• Jeffrey Eugenides talks to the London Telegraph about the anthology of short stories he edited, My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead. Proceeds from the book are being donated to 826Chicago. The book club will be reading his book Middlesex for our April meeting.

• Daniel Clowes, Aleksandar Hemon, George Saunders and Chris Ware have all contributed stories to The Book of Other People, an anthology edited by Zadie Smith.

• Speaking of Daniel Clowes, he was also recently interviewed for the Onion A.V. Club, talking about his series for the New York Times, Mr. Wonderful.

• After finishing Diary of a Bad Year by Coetzee, reviewers moved on to Bleeding Kansas by Sara Paretsky. Read reviews of Kansas at the Chicago Tribune, New York Times and Washington Post.

• NPR has a story about Richard Wright's daughter, who is publishing her father's unfinished novel, Father's Law. The book club will be reading his book Native Son this year for our September meeting.

• Last, but certainly not least, registration is now open for winter and spring seminars at the Newberry Library. Seminars of interest to book club members include "From Oz to Wicked: The Wonderful World of L. Frank Baum," "At Home with Hemingway," "Richard J. Daley: Life and Times, Myths and Realities" and "The White City: Art and Culture at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893."

Alice Maggio

News Fri Jan 11 2008

Diary of a Bad Year Review Round-Up

Everyone has been reading J.M. Coetzee's latest book, Diary of a Bad Year. Read reviews from The Boston Globe, Denver Post, New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, New York Review of Books and San Francisco Chronicle.

Alice Maggio / Comments (1)

News Fri Jan 11 2008

Captain O.G. Readmore Says 'Reading's where it's at'

Elizabeth Berg resolves to read more this year, and inspires Libby Hellman to do the same.

* C'mon, I know I'm not the only one who remembers the Captain.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jan 01 2008

Best Books

This week in Ink I'm asking a very typical end-of-the-year question: What is your pick for best book of 2007? This could be a book published in 2007, or maybe just the best book you read this past year. Let us know above in Ink.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Dec 26 2007

Over 100 Years Later, The Titles Have Barely Changed

While looking for something else, I found this fascinating catalogue of books from 1903 from a Chicago publisher, Frederick J. Drake & Company. It's slightly re-assuring to know that back then they also sold books on science experiments that could be done at home or how to make money in the stock market. Though I doubt a book about "renowned Dutch comedians" would still sell a lot of copies.

Brian Sobolak

News Wed Dec 19 2007

Last Chance Gift Guide

Have you been leaving your Christmas shopping until the last minute? Books make great gifts and local area booksellers and publishers have got you covered.

New Books
Barbara's Bookstore has some special holiday discounts and gift suggestions.

The Book Cellar staff loves The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and the store will be open until 1pm on December 24 for you real last-minute types.

Graham Cracker Comics has several locations around Chicago, but the Naperville store earns a special mention for its "No Sleep 'Til Xmas" event. The store will be open for 32 hours straight, from 11am Dec. 23 to 7pm Dec. 24, and will include food, Nintendo Wii and other gaming events. As the website says, "Tired of spending the holidays with your family? God knows we are. So why not squeeze in a few hours hanging out at your favorite comic shop?" Brilliant.

Quimby's is promoting its limited-edition tote bags, perfect, as the staff claims, for the "nerd that's impossible to shop for during the holidays."

The Seminary Co-op Bookstores announce they have "lots of new titles for those hard-to-shop-for readers in your life." Maybe you know someone who would love to receive The Origins of Reasonable Doubt: Theological Roots of the Criminal Trial by James Q. Whitman or History in a Glass: Sixty Years of Wine Writing from Gourmet by Ruth Reichl, both stocked at the Co-op right now.

Staff favorites at Unabridged Bookstore in Lakeview include Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford and The Laments by George Hagen.

And, Women & Children First not only have lots of great new releases, but the store also has a wide variety of t-shirts and other items in its Cafe Press store.

Used Books
If anyone on your list might appreciate a special used, rare or out-of-print title, Bookworks, Myopic Books, Selected Works and Powell's are just a few of my favorite places.

Local Publishers
For the Chicago history buff, Lake Claremont Press has lots of great titles, including its latest, Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie by Ted Okuda And Mark Yurkiw.

The University of Chicago Press has dozens of titles listed in its special holiday gift guide. From The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys in Outsider Art by Greg Bottoms to Ice: The Nature, the History, and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance by Mariana Gosnell, there is something for everyone from the U of C Press.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Dec 19 2007

Recent Stories

Your round-up of recent Chicago related lit news from around the web:

Ana Castillo is interviewed in Color Lines, and she talks about her most recent novel, The Guardians. (read the GB Book Club review of The Guardians here)

• The Chicago Tribune looks at a new book about the Garfield Park Conservatory titled Inspired by Nature: The Garfield Park Conservatory and Chicago's West Side, and reviews Person of Interest by Theresa Schwegel, calling it "an indisputable crime fiction tour de force."

• In the New York Times Sunday Book Review Rachel Donadio wonders why J.M. Coetzee left South Africa and asks, "Were his 2002 move and his taking of Australian citizenship last year a betrayal of his homeland, or a rejoinder to a country whose new government had denounced one of his most important novels as racist?"

Alice Maggio

News Fri Dec 14 2007

When Stock Photography Attacks

Sir, have we met somewhere before? You look familiar. Still having trouble with that coat, I see.

nowhereman.jpg Nowhere Man by Aleksandar Hemon




vs.




roadwithin.jpg The Road Within: True Stories of Transformation and the Soul edited by Sean O'Reilly







Alice Maggio

News Thu Dec 13 2007

Recent Stories

More local lit-related news from around the web:

• The Rockford Public Library is moving into a space recently vacated by a Barnes & Noble. The former bookstore space is nearly triple the size of the current Northeast library branch.

• Bill Daley at the Trib has some cookbook recommendations for your holiday gift-giving.

• Check out Fifth Wednesday Journal, a new biannual print literary journal based in Lisle, IL.

E.L. Doctorow reviews Studs Terkel's memoir, Touch and Go, and says, "The memoir is a literary genre given to narcissistic indulgence, but you will find nothing of the sort here."

Alice Maggio

News Fri Dec 07 2007

Obama Nominated for Grammy

Nominations for the 50th Annual Grammy Awards have been announced, and Barack Obama tops the list in the spoken word category for his recording of The Audacity Of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming The American Dream. In 2006 Obama won the Grammy for spoken word for the recording of his memoir Dreams from My Father, which we recently read for the GB Book Club. Obama's fellow nominees this year include Maya Angelou, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Alan Alda.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Dec 05 2007

Tribune to Sun-Times: Who's Bragging Now?

Or, "Reason Number 182 Why Newspapers Are Hemorrhaging Readers"

Critical Mass, the blog of the National Book Critics Circle, reports that the Chicago Sun-Times is cutting its Books section in half. This comes just a few months after the Trib moved its own Books section from Sundays to Saturdays, thus ensuring that it will never be read. After the move, Sun-Times began to crow about having "the only books section on Sunday." Maybe the new tagline should read, "now 50 percent less literate!" Way to go, Chicago papers.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Dec 05 2007

Recent Stories

I've been dealing with a wicked cold and nursing a sick cat, so I'm behind on my links once again. But here a just a few Chicago-lit related stories you may have missed recently:

• The Chicago Sun-Times profiles local author Keir Graff and talks about his new thriller, My Fellow Americans.

• Read an interview with cartoonist Anders Nilsen and view pages from his sketchbooks.

• Speaking of cartoonists, yes, "Mr. Wonderful" by Daniel Clowes is continuing in the New York Times. We are now up to chapter 12.

• The Denver Post reviews the lastest novel by Robert Hellenga, The Italian Lover, and says it "captures a moment in time that is so real you can smell the bus fumes." You can also read an excerpt from the book.

• Want another book excerpt? The LA Times has the introduction from Finding Iris Chang by Paula Kamen.

• At the New York Review of Books, Sarah Kerr reviews Exit Ghost by Philip Roth.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Nov 27 2007

People Are Still Talking About The Future of Books

The NPR show "On The Media" usually focuses on how the news is reported (or not reported, if appropriate). This past week's episode switched to a different medium: books. In addition to explaining the Kindle, it talked about how much of a difference Oprah and Amazon can make, and whether or not people are reading less as the recent NEA study discussed. Worth a listen.

Brian Sobolak

News Tue Nov 20 2007

Recent Stories

I am behind on posting, but here some recent Chicago-lit related stories from around the web:


Alice Maggio

News Fri Nov 09 2007

Coetzee News

The Critical Mass blog has two offerings from this week related to our current book club author. First, find out which five books J.M. Coetzee believes every book reviewer should own. Then, read a review of Inner Workings, a new collection of essays of Coetzee's work from the New York Review of Books.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Nov 09 2007

Recent Stories

This has been one of those weeks, but I would like to close some tabs and catch up with some recent Chicago-related lit news from around the web:

Alice Maggio

Reviews Tue Oct 30 2007

Book Review Cage Match

The Chicago Tribune recently featured two reviews of works by local writers. Donna Seaman, the editor of Booklist, reviewed Hiding Out by Jonathan Messinger. And, Dick Adler reviewed the Chicago Blues anthology edited by Libby Fischer Hellmann.

But wait, our own Veronica Bond reviewed both books for the GB Book Club blog right here. Re-read her reviews of Hiding Out and Chicago Blues.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Oct 30 2007

Recent Stories

• From the Department of "What the Hell?" comes word that not only did Dave Eggers write the screenplay for the forthcoming Where the Wild Things Are film, based on the classic children's book by Maurice Sendak, but he is also writing an adult novel based on the story. Publisher Dan Halpern from ECCO thinks "it's going to be his biggest book. I think it's going to be huge." Um, famous last words?

Touch and Go, the long-awaited memoir by Studs Terkel is now in stores, and the LA Times has a review.

• Philip Roth is profiled and his new book, Exit Ghost, is reviewed at the Christian Science Monitor and the Denver Post.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Oct 30 2007

Go Read

Time Out Chicago has three new scary short stories by some cool local writers, just in time for Halloween. Read "A Brief Moment of Terror at MLK Junior High School" by Joe Meno, "Ghost Stations" by Keir Graff, and "Vaara in the Woods" by Patrick Somerville.

• "Mr. Wonderful" by Daniel Clowes continues in the New York Times.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Oct 09 2007

Recent Stories

Recent Chicago-related book news from around the web:

• The Boston Globe reviews The Guardians by Ana Castillo, which I reviewed here last month.

Hey, did you know Philip Roth attended the University of Chicago? That makes him fair game for the GB Book Club. Let the stories begin:

• Read reviews of his latest book, Exit Ghost, at the Independent, the New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

• The Chronicle also has an interview with Roth, which includes this snippet:

Roth realizes that as he ages, he is one of the relative few who have this kind of time for reading. "The revolution that began with the movie screen, and the TV screen, which led to the decline of the literary culture, has just been accelerated by the new technological revolution," he says. "People are just not interested in reading a book two or three hours a night."

• You're still reading "Mr. Wonderful" by Daniel Clowes in the New York Times, right? Chapter four is now available for downloading.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Oct 01 2007

Recent News

Chicago-lit related stories from around the web:

• Read reviews for Robert Hellenga's new book, The Italian Lover, at both the Chicago Tribune and the Boston Globe.

• Publisher's Weekly talks to Stuart Dybek about his "winning week" last week.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Sep 26 2007

Fantagraphics on the Clowes Controversy

Fantagraphics, the publisher of the Eightball series by Daniel Clowes, has a few thoughts about the Connecticut English teacher who resigned after parents objected to his giving a copy of Eightball #22 to a freshman student. The commentary includes:

"Some are arguing that Eightball was a far too mature choice for a teacher to give a 13-year-old girl and clearly grounds for dismissal. Perhaps in some parts of the country, yes, but consider this school's approved summer reading list, which includes authors like Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg, Augustyn Burroughs, Sylvia Plath, Graham Greene, and many more. In light of this rather progressive list, it's hard to believe that Eightball crosses any lines that any number of other titles from the approved list absolutely obliterate."

Alice Maggio

News Mon Sep 24 2007

Recent Stories

Chicago lit news from around the web:

Keir Graff interviews Jonathan Messinger about his book, Hiding Out, and juggling roles as a writer, editor and publisher.

ELevated Verse has returned to CTA platforms around the city. The project, which is in its second year, features poetry written by Chicago students enrolled in the Poetry Center of Chicago's Hands on Stanzas program.

Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Clowes continues in the New York Times Magazine.Related: An English teacher in Guilford, Conn. resigned after giving a freshman student a copy of Clowes' Eightball #22, and her parents freaked.

• Publisher's Weekly has a short interview with Studs Terkel.

• The San Francisco Chronicle reviews The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Sep 20 2007

Crime Fiction History

Cultural Chicago has a nice little piece detailing a short history of chicago crime fiction, starting from the genre's birth in England to the current crop of local writers who carry on the tradition.

Veronica Bond

News Wed Sep 19 2007

Happy Birthday, Mike Royko

Thanks to the Chicago Blog for reminding us that Mike Royko would have turned 75 today. You can read some of his past columns online as reprinted in One More Time and For the Love of Mike, both from the University of Chicago Press. Of course, we read his classic book, Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago, for our January 2007 book club selection.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Sep 18 2007

Recent Stories

You can call this the "all comics/graphic novels" news update:

• Anders Nilsen has been getting lots of press lately. A couple weeks ago he was the cover story on the Chicago Reader (that article made me cry), and that same weekend he was profiled in the Tribune. Now Metabunker has an in-depth interview with the artist/cartoonist.

The Best American Comics 2007 will be hitting bookshelves next month. This year's edition was edited by Chris Ware, and you can read his introduction on the publisher's website.

• Craig Yoe, the editor of the excellent Arf comics anthologies, will be in Chicago tomorrow, September 19, giving a free lecture at Columbia College Chicago. It is open to the public. You can catch him and YOE! Studio co-founder Clizia Gussoni tomorrow at 6:30pm at 623 S. Wabash, Room 203. Call 312-344-7380 for more information. [via]

Alice Maggio

News Tue Sep 18 2007

Book Club Behavior

If you've ever considered joining a book club, but wanted to know more about proper etiquette (Do you have to read the whole book? Who decides what to read?), the Sun-Times offers the first in a three-part series to help you out. Among those interviewed are the vice president of the Great Books Foundation and our own co-moderator, Alice Maggio. Parts two and three to be published on Wednesday and Sunday. (And don't forget, new members to the GB Book Club are always welcome.)

Veronica Bond

News Mon Sep 17 2007

Recent Stories

Time for another round-up of Chicago-related lit news:

• The Guardian talks to Dave Eggers.

• Did you see the Daniel Clowes comic in Sunday's New York Times? [.pdf]

• Interested in writing for a literary publication? The University of Illinois at Chicago is inviting submissions for the inaugural issue of the Packingtown Review. Visit the website for more information. [via]

Alice Maggio

News Wed Sep 12 2007

Recent Stories

Chicago lit news from around the web:

George Saunders reads "Manifesto" from The Braindead Megaphone. (streaming audio)

• Dave Eggers has become the youngest person to receive the Heinz Award.

• Just in time for our October book club selection, Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama has finally been published in the UK, and the Independent has a review.

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Sep 07 2007

Quotable Friday

Every Friday is Quotable Friday on the book club blog, where we highlight a notable passage from a book with a Chicago connection. This week's quotable is from Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, our September 2005 book club selection.

"So, with the subtlest of incidents, he knew that this day was going to be different. It would be different also, because, as his father explained, driving Douglas and his ten-year-old brother Tom out of town toward the country, there were some days compounded completely of odor, nothing but the world blowing in one nostril and out the other. And some days, he went on, were days of hearing every trump and trill of the universe. Some days were good for tasting and some for touching. And some days were good for all the senses at once. This day now, he nodded, smelled as if a great and nameless orchard had grown up overnight beyond the hills to fill the entire visible land with its warm freshness."

Alice Maggio

News Thu Sep 06 2007

Recent Stories

Recent Chicago lit news from around the web:

• The L.A. Times reviews Now and Forever by Ray Bradbury.

• Publisher's Weekly gives Studs Terkel's long-awaited memoir, Touch and Go, a starred review, calling it "a fitting portrait of a legendary talent."

• And, seriously, are you reading George Saunders' guest posts on the Powell's blog? Don't miss "A Strange Letter Regarding Uranus" or "Kids Say the Wackest Crap."

Alice Maggio

News Tue Sep 04 2007

Recent Stories

Currently in Chicago lit news:

• Paper Cuts, the New York Times books blog, posted its own round-up of reviews for JM Coetzee's new novel, Diary of a Bad Year.

• Today marks the birthday of Richard Wright, author of Native Son and the memoir Black Boy. He was born in Roxie, Mississippi in 1908 and died in 1960. You can find out more about his life and works here.

• The Boston Globe chimes in with a review of Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott.

• George Saunders is the guest blogger for the Powell's blog this week. In his first post, he recounts his imaginary visit to Guantanamo Bay. Don't miss it.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Aug 31 2007

Donate Your Books

During this lovely three-day weekend, consider spending a few minutes weeding your bookshelves, and donating those old books to the Hyde Park Co-op Used Book Sale. They need your donations right now for the Co-op's annual Columbus Day weekend book sale. You can bring your donations to the lower level of the Hyde Park Co-op at 1526 E. 55th Street, or call 773-324-0750 to arrange for pick-up. Proceeds from the sale benefit the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Aug 30 2007

Recent Stories

Chicago lit news from around the web:

• The Guardian recently published an excerpt from JM Coetzee's new novel, Diary of a Bad Year. The book club will be reading Disgrace by Coetzee for November. And would you like a review to go with that excerpt?

• The Chicago Public Library has just announced that the fall selection for One Book, One Chicago is The Crucible by Arthur Miller. You can download the complete .pdf guide here. Not coincidentally, The Crucible is also part of the Steppenwolf Theatre's lineup this autumn.

• Keir Graff at the Booklist blog has a thoughtful response to Adam Langer's harsh review of Michael Harvey's The Chicago Way in last weekend's Tribune.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 27 2007

Lake Claremont Press in New Location

Our friends at local publisher Lake Claremont Press have moved, and they want to get the word out about their new address at 1026 W. Van Buren St. Plus, they have some pretty sweet bargain book deals on their website right now.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 27 2007

Reviews for The Chicago Way

• Adam Langer reviews Michael Harvey's debut crime novel, The Chicago Way, but finds that the Chicago setting falls flat.

• The Tribune also has a profile of Harvey, who has lived in Chicago for many years.

• The Boston Globe, however, has a different take and calls the book a "smart, stylish debut PI novel."

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 27 2007

A History of Chicago Back in Print

Dear Santa,

I know it's only August, but there will be only one thing on my holiday wishlist this year: A History of Chicago by Bessie Louise Pierce, Volumes 1, 2 and 3. I promise to be good for the rest of the year. Thank you.

Pierce's 3 volume history has been out of print for decades, but the good folks at the University of Chicago Press have finally reprinted it in paperback, making this classic and essential work available to a new generation. The Chicago Tribune also applauds its return.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Aug 24 2007

More Recent Stories

• The New York Times books blog, Paper Cuts, posed a few questions to Daniel Clowes.

Claire Zulkey interviews Karen Abbott about her recently published first book, Sin in the Second City.

• The Seattle Times checks in with its own positive review of Loving Frank.

• Last weekend the Chicago Tribune reviewed Tribune writer David Mendell's new biography of Barack Obama, simply titled Obama. The online review includes video of Mendell talking about the book. Next month the book club will be reading about Obama in his words, as we tackle his 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father.

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Aug 24 2007

Quotable Friday

"The only record I could listen to straight through was Guns n' Roses' Appetite for Destruction. When everything else was wrong, that record made it right. I could go back to it, always. No matter what, that record would make me feel all right. Appetite for Destruction. Guns n' Roses. That was it. That was my record. 'It's So Easy,' 'Nightrain,' 'Out ta Get Me,' then classics like 'Paradise City,' 'Welcome to the Jungle,' and probably the greatest song ever, of all time: 'Sweet Child o' Mine.' What was it about that song? I loved that song so much it sometimes made me want to kick a hole in the wall."

In this week's Quotable Friday excerpt, narrator Brian Oswald tells us about his favorite album in Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno, our April 2005 Book Club selection.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Aug 24 2007

George Saunders Interviews Himself

Critcally-acclaimed writer George Saunders grew up on Chicago's South Side, and his new collection of essays, The Braindead Megaphone, will be appearing on store shelves in just a couple weeks. But right now he is blogging on Amazon.com and recently posted an interview with himself which includes:

Q: Wasn’t Bill Clinton the President of America?
A: Yes. Yes he was.
Q: I miss him. I wish he was still President.
(A brief silence of mutual nostalgia for 1993)

You can read the full self-interview here.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Aug 23 2007

Recent Stories

The Denver Post reviewed Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, and declared it "a story that should resonate with anyone facing difficult choices."

The Washington Post reviewed Loving Frank, too, and called it "a novel of impressive scope and ambition."

• The Washington Post also published a new essay by Ana Castillo, the author of our current book club selection, in which she talks about the "ghosts" who inspire her writing. There is also a brief biographical profile of Ana Castillo to accompany the essay.

• Happy belated birthday, Ray Bradbury. On the occasion of his 87th birthday on August 22, the New York Times talked to Mr. Bradbury about the recent publication of some of his long-forgotton works.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 20 2007

Newberry Treasures

Admittedly a bit older, but the Newberry has published a number of their more recent acquisitions online. If you're a fan of antique books (or maps or jigsaw puzzles), the scans of the materials they've posted are really neat.

Brian Sobolak

News Sun Aug 19 2007

Quimby's Update

Quimby's has posted a list of what's new in their store on Quimblog. Also interesting: a list posted of Quimby's bestsellers for the beginning of August. What are their readers interested in? "...evidently they are interested in both learning how to be funny and learning about female serial killers."

Brian Sobolak

News Tue Aug 14 2007

Recently Published

Over the weekend:

• The New York Times published a review of Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott, a new book about the Everleigh Club of Chicago.

• The San Francisco Chronicle reviewed Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, about the affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney.

• The Chicago Tribune reviewed The Guardians, the new novel by Ana Castillo.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Aug 07 2007

Review of Loving Frank

The Christian Science Monitor has a review of Nancy Horan's first novel, Loving Frank, which is based on the true story of the affair between Mamah Borthwick Cheney and architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The New York Times also recently ran a review. Like Wright and Cheney, Horan is a former Oak Park resident. She will be appearing to talk about Loving Frank at Barbara's Bookstore on August 16.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 06 2007

Parent Wants Book Banned from School District

From the "won't someone please think of the children" department: A mother from Oak Lawn wants to ban the award-winning novel Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going from the summer reading booklists of suburban Alsip, Hazelgreen and Oak Lawn School District 126. The book includes swear words and addresses drug and alcohol use. Read the complete story.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 06 2007

Another Award for Gruen

The Midwest Bookseller's Association recently announced the winners of the 2007 Midwest Booksellers’ Choice Awards, and guess which book won in the best fiction category? Yes, sir, the winner is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, our August book club selection. You have just one week left to finish before our discussion on Monday, August 13, at The Book Cellar.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jul 16 2007

Your Potter Party Round-Up

The Chicago Tribune has a round-up of Harry Potter release parties taking place this Friday night. My pick is the Oak Park extravaganza spearheaded by the Magic Tree Bookstore.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jul 16 2007

More Accolades for Gruen

The Chicago Public Library Foundation recently announced that Sara Gruen is the 2007 recipient of the foundation's 21st Century Award. In addition, celebrated poet Nikki Giovanni will receive the 2007 Carl Sandburg Literary Award.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jul 12 2007

Water for Elephants in New York Times

Coincidentally, just as we are introducing Water for Elephants as our August book club selection, the New York Times has an article about the book's enduring popularity. According to the article, "Despite the presence of not one but two Oprah Winfrey selections in bookstores, it is a sleeper hit from last year that has muscled its way to being a big paperback read this summer." A perfect summer read was exactly what we thought, too, and apparently the paperback is currently outselling both Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Go, little book, go!

Alice Maggio

News Fri Jun 22 2007

Adult Summer Reading Program at CPL

The Chicago Public Library is having what it says is its "first-ever summer reading program designed especially for adult readers." The first-ever? Really? Well, then, the program booklet titled "City of Big Readers: Summer Reads for Adults" [.pdf] is long-overdue. It includes an excellent collection of Chicago-themed book lists organized around different topics, such as "Sidewalks and Skyscrapers," which includes books on Chicago architecture. The program guide also includes many past GB Book Club selections, including The Adventures of Augie March, Memory Mambo, The Man with the Golden Arm, Coffee Will Make You Black, The House on Mango Street and many more. So, GB Book Club members have already conquered the first part of the program: reading at least two books listed in the booklet. Then just fill out the registration form in the back of the guide, return it to your nearest CPL branch, and receive your free travel coffee mug. Congratulations!

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jun 21 2007

Hemon's Summer Reading

Elsewhere on the Critical Mass blog, Aleksandar Hemon, author of our October 2005 book club pick Nowhere Man, has just one book he wants you to read this summer.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Jun 21 2007

Interview with Sun-Times Books Editor

Critical Mass, the blog of the National Books Critics Circle board of directors, posted an interview with Cheryl L. Reed, the books editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. Reed is quoted saying, "My main thrust has been in highlighting local authors and mainstream authors who come to town. We do a lot more interviews with authors now and I encourage our reviewers to take an attitude. I want our section to be entertaining and engaging even if readers don't go out and buy all the books we review."

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jun 20 2007

"I Sailed with Magellan" at Victory Gardens

In March 2006, the Gapers Block Book Club read I Sailed with Magellan by Stuart Dybek, a critically acclaimed collection of loosely connected short stories. Now the book has been adapted for the stage by Claudia Allen and is enjoying its world premiere at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater. It only runs through July 15, so don't delay.

And, are you a subscriber to the Book Club mailing list? If not, now might be a good time to join (hint, hint). See the right-hand column for sign-up information.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Jun 20 2007

A Conversation with Wilbert Hasbrouck

The Journal Times recently featured a nice profile of Wilbert Hasbrouck, the co-owner of the Prairie Avenue Bookshop.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jun 18 2007

Elizabeth Berg's New Novel

The Boston Globe reviews Elizabeth Berg's new novel, Dream When You're Feeling Blue, and declares that it "reads a little like a made-for-TV movie on the Lifetime channel — entertaining in the moment, but ultimately unmemorable." Ouch. In May 2007 the GB Book Club read one of Berg's earlier novels, The Year of Pleasures.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jun 18 2007

New Memoir by Paretsky

The Denver Post recently looked at Sara Paretsky's new memoir, Writing in an Age of Silence, which explores her "coming of age in 1950s and 1960s America, where the women's and civil rights movements helped her develop the writing voice that would become her fabled Chicago detective V.I. Warshawski."

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jun 18 2007

That's a Lot of Harry Potter

Last week the Sun-Times also reported that the Chicago Public Library has ordered a whopping 1,000 copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which is scheduled to be released on July 21. Patrons will not be able to reserve a copy. Instead, the books will be available on a strictly first-come, first-served basis. Suburban libraries are also stocking up, and hundreds of people have already placed holds on the copies. Good luck!

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jun 18 2007

Bad, Bad Borders

The Sun-Times reported last week that Borders bookstore in Oak Park was ordered by a federal judge to reinstate a wrongfully fired employee and to pay the employee more than $300,000 for unpaid overtime and "time and expenses lost due to the company's retaliation against her." The employee, Clarice Prange, "worked 4,170 hours of unpaid overtime from 2001 to 2004 in hopes of winning a promotion and on the promise of compensatory time off." Way to go, Borders.

Alice Maggio

News Fri Jun 08 2007

Your Weekly Dose of "Best of" Lists

Ah, who doesn't enjoy a good "top ten" or "best of" list? So easy to write. So easy to argue about. Who should've made it that didn't? Who made it who shouldn't have? Who cares? This week New City released its annual Chicago Lit 50, with Oprah Winfrey leading the list of movers and shakers, while the Chicago Tribune lists its 10 favorite area bookstores.

Alice Maggio

News Thu May 17 2007

More Awards News

The Midwest Independent Publishers Association recently announced their 2006 book awards, and our friends at Lake Claremont Press won several awards, including first place and a merit award in the "Midwest Regional Interest" category for Politics of Space: A History of Zoning in Chicago by Joseph P. Schwieterman and Dana M. Caspall and A Cook's Guide to Chicago by Marilyn Pocius, respectively. See the full list of winners on the MIPA website.

Alice Maggio

News Thu May 17 2007

Crossing California, Live on Stage

Crossing California by Adam Langer is about the intertwined relationships of three families living in West Rogers Park in the late 1970s, and it was our July 2005 book club selection. But now, through June 24, you can see the world-premiere stage adaptation of Crossing California at the Lifeline Theatre. Both the Trib and the Sun-Times have stories about the play. Tickets are as low as $14 (for students with ID), so what are you waiting for? Find out more at the Lifeline Theatre website.

Alice Maggio

News Wed May 16 2007

Happy 95th Birthday, Studs Terkel

Birthday wishes are pouring in for Studs Terkel today as he turns 95. See The Seattle Times, Chicago Public Radio and The Book Standard, to name a few. And don't miss his special birthday page on his publisher's website, which include's martini recipes, Stud's favorite music and much more.

Alice Maggio

News Tue May 15 2007

Open Books Radio

Donna Seaman, host of the Open Books literary program on WLUW, has launched a new Open Books Radio website. The site includes downloadable .mp3 files of her interviews with authors like Joe Meno, Audrey Niffenegger, James McManus, John McNally and many more. Definitely worth a visit.

Alice Maggio

News Tue May 15 2007

Studs Terkel at 95

The venerable Studs Terkel turns 95 on May 16, and In These Times has an interview with the writer about his milestone birthday and his long-awaited memoir, Touch and Go. [Edited 5/16]

Alice Maggio / Comments (3)

News Fri May 11 2007

And the Award Goes To...

The Society of Midland Authors recently announced the winners of their 2006 book awards. Samrat Upadhyay, a creative writing instructor at Indiana University, earned the best adult fiction honor for his story collection, The Royal Ghosts, while film critic Roger Ebert won the best adult nonfiction category for his essay collection, Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert.

Alice Maggio

News Wed May 09 2007

The State of Books in Chicago

So, you may have heard that the Chicago Tribune is moving the Books section from Sundays to Saturdays beginning May 19. Yes, lame. My favorite part is where the letter states that "moving the section to Saturday will separate it from the Sunday newspaper, which already is bursting at the seams with essential reading." Like Transportation? Or the insipid and irrelevant Q section? Right.

The National Books Critics Circle responded to this and the recent elimination of the books editor at the Atlanta Journal Constitution by starting the Campaign to Save Book Reviews. There's been some great interviews and posts on the NBCC blog about the place of books criticism in modern journalism.

Meanwhile, this past Sunday, Chicago Sun-Times books editor Cheryl Reed published a thoughtful commentary on the state of affairs, including this passage:

"What newspaper publishers and editors don't seem to get is that people who read books also tend to read newspapers. Our fates are tied together. Book readers often make up our most educated and informed newspaper audience. While they'll throw out the daily paper within minutes of reading, book readers tend to keep books sections longer. They'll stack them for weeks or tuck them into their purses and shoulder bags, foisting them upon bookstore clerks to help them find their next great read."

Reed concludes, "While the Trib's move makes the Sun-Times books section the only game around on Sundays in Chicago, it also means that inevitably there will be fewer readers cultivated, fewer points of views disseminated and, ultimately, fewer authors discovered, some in our own backyards."

I used to hold on to the Tribune Books sections, and often updated my to-read list after reading reviews in the paper. Will I still be able to do that after May 19? I don't know. How do you find new books to read or discover new authors?

Alice Maggio

News Wed Apr 18 2007

W&CF's Plight in Tribune

The Tribune picked up the story of Women & Children First's financial woes. The article reiterates what the Windy City Times reported last week. Co-owner Linda Bubon is quoted in the Tribune story saying, "We both really want the store to keep going. But we really need to get the point across to people: You can't take us for granted. You can't enjoy browsing in here, and buy your books on the Internet. You can't bring your children to Story Hour, and buy your books at Borders."

It's good to see this story getting picked up by other media outlets.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Apr 12 2007

Women & Children First in Trouble

Women & Children First has been a popular and respected independent bookstore in Chicago for almost 30 years, but the Windy City Times reports that the store may close before the end of this summer if people fail to support the store with their book-buying dollars. Co-owner Ann Christophersen is quoted as saying, "What it ultimately comes down to is: whether people in the community, and the city as a whole, decide it matters enough that we exist and then make their shopping decisions based on that. We want people’s support, and we need it now. By that we mean, that they buy their books here."

So stop browsing Amazon already, folks, and get over to 5233 N. Clark St. and lend your support.

Alice Maggio / Comments (1)

News Thu Apr 12 2007

So It Goes

Much lauded author, activist and University of Chicago graduate student Kurt Vonnegut has died. (Also reported on the main page.)

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

News Wed Mar 21 2007

Hope for the Indies?

In the bigger they are, the harder they fall department, the Sun-Times reports that Borders is looking to sub-let four of their Chicago stores, including the Lincoln Park store at 2817 N. Clark St. and the more recent location at 755 W. North Ave. If Borders can find tenants for these locations, the bookstores will close. Is this a ray of hope for Chicago's beleaguered independent bookshops? We'll see.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Mar 13 2007

One Book, One Chicago Selection Announced

The Chicago Public Library has announced the Spring 2007 selection for One Book, One Chicago: James Baldwin's Go Tell It On the Mountain. The story spans a single day in the life of fourteen-year-old John Grimes and has been hailed as a masterpiece for its exploration into the black migration from the South to the North. As always, the CPL will host a plethora of events focusing on the book, from a spoken word and song performance to film screenings to neighborhood book club discussions. You can keep checking the CPL's calendar of events for updates, but Slowdown over on the main page will also have you covered with events being posted as they're announced.

Veronica Bond

News Wed Feb 28 2007

Chicagoan? Or Chicagoish?

Can you be a Chicagoan if you spend your entire work week in the city but retire to the suburbs every night? What about those who leave the city and drive the 'burbs everday? Neil Steinberg ponders this in his Sun-Times column, citing authors Nelson Algren and Carl Sandburg as two Chicagoans whose ties to the city fall in that grey area -- Sandburg, after all, lived mostly in Elmhust while Algren left Chicago in 1974, never to return. Steinberg concludes that the city belongs to those who keep it in their hearts, but maybe we're just eager to claim those writers who have made the city memorable as part of ours.

Veronica Bond

News Wed Feb 28 2007

More on What is the What

Dave Eggers' recent novel What is the What is a nominee for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award, and today the NBCC blog has a profile of the book, along with information on how to donate to organizations helping the Sudanese in the United States and Sudan.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Feb 28 2007

Profile of Philip K. Dick

The Times published a short profile of Philip K. Dick, author of our upcoming June book, in honor of the 25th anniversary of his death.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Feb 14 2007

Studs Terkel, Circa 1999

Elizabeth Taylor lets us know how Studs Terkel is doing and digs up a great old essay about Terkel's work from the December 13, 1999 issue of The Nation, in which John Leonard writes, "To be sure...Studs talked to folks whose names we recognized, but the larger point was to listen to those who hadn't been heard—whose signals had been buzzed and jammed by the celebrity culture's static cling."

Alice Maggio

News Wed Feb 14 2007

Richard Powers Interviewed

The Believer has a nice, long interview with Richard Powers in its February issue. Powers is an Evanston native and the author of several books including The Echo Maker, which recently won a National Book Award.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Feb 14 2007

"What Happens When the Mipods Leave"

Elizabeth Crane, the author of our February book club book, All This Heavenly Glory, has a new story titled "What Happens When the Mipods Leave their Milieu" being serialized this week on Five Chapters. You can read all the parts here. [via the author's blog]

Alice Maggio

News Wed Feb 14 2007

Thoughts on Valentine's Day

Sara Paretsky has some thoughts on Valentine's Day and our city's history.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Feb 14 2007

Paul's Paradoxes

Publisher's weekly has an interview with Chicago artist Paul Hornschemeier about his new graphic novel, The Three Paradoxes. In the interview he shares, "I made the colossal mistake of simultaneously quitting my day job, taking on writing and drawing The Three Paradoxes and contributing regularly to Mome. Which is all well and good, but as it turns out, I have to pay my bills and rent, and though you'd think an independent cartoonist would make absolute mountains of revenue from his two and a half readers, it turns out this isn't quite the case."

Alice Maggio

News Mon Feb 05 2007

Celebrating Kurt Vonnegut

Mayor Bart Peterson of Indianapolis has declared 2007 to be The Year of Vonnegut, to recognize the literary achievements of hometown hero, Kurt Vonnegut. Festivities include "One Book, One City" book discussions, films, music and...crafts?

Alice Maggio

News Mon Feb 05 2007

Visual Poetry

The Chicago-based Poetry Foundation has invited contemporary graphic novelists to illustrate the poem of their choice from the organization's vast poetry archive, and the result is brillant. First up is artist David Heatley's interpretation of "Belly Dancer" by Diane Wakoski.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Feb 05 2007

Politics Chicago Style

"Why is it that members of the same family get appointments in several sections of government and only large firms seem to get representation on boards dealing with zoning and construction?"

Emre Peker has a few thoughts about Chicago politics and Dick Simpson's book, Rogues, Rebels and Rubber Stamps, at The Millions book blog.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Feb 05 2007

Saul Bellow, Beyond Criticism?

Is Saul Bellow beyond criticism? Sam Tanenhaus thinks so. But, book club members who didn't quite finish The Adventures of Augie March last year may feel differently.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Feb 01 2007

Daniel Clowes Bibliography

The Daniel Clowes Bibliography is one of the most comprehensive resources about the writer/artist. And, it just underwent a major update. Clowes is best known for his graphic novel, Ghost World, and the 2001 film adaptation of the novel he co-wrote with Terry Zwigoff. Clowes is originally from Chicago.

Alice Maggio

News Thu Feb 01 2007

Sydney Sheldon, 89

Author Sidney Sheldon passed away this week at the age of 89. He was a best-selling novelist, playwright, screenwriter and director, and received numerous awards throughout his career, including an Oscar, Tony award and Edgar Allen Poe award for mystery writing. His film screenplays included Easter Parade (1948) and the screen adaptation of Annie Get Your Gun (1950). On TV, Sheldon wrote the scripts for "I Dream of Jeannie," "Hart to Hart" and "The Patty Duke Show." Sheldon was born, and grew up, in Chicago. Read the obituaries at The Seattle Times, The Guardian and CNN.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jan 29 2007

Events at MBA Website

The Midwest Booksellers Association now lists events from member bookstores on its website. Since the service just started, the events listings are a little thin, but hopefully the idea will catch on. The MBA is a nonprofit trade association for independent booksellers in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The group currently boasts more than 250 members.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jan 29 2007

A Visit to Quimby's

Lumino Magazine has a brief profile of Quimby's Bookstore in Wicker Park and declares that "if you have a niche, hobby, or alternative lifestyle, this is the place to read up on it."

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jan 29 2007

Donate to Open Books

Time Out Chicago talks to Stacy Ratner and Becca Keaty, who are planning to open a new bookstore in the South Loop in 2008. But Open Books won't be just any indie bookstore. It will be the city's first nonprofit bookstore, with proceeds funding a literacy program for Chicago adults in need. They are currently soliciting donations. Visit the Open Books website for information on how to get involved.

Alice Maggio

News Sat Jan 27 2007

Indie Bookstores

As noted in Merge, this week the New City has a brief round-up of some independent bookstores in and around Chicago, although, as Pete Lit points out, don't try to visit Brent Books and Cards.

Alice Maggio

News Sat Jan 27 2007

New Oprah Book Club Pick

As promised, Oprah announced a new selection in her book club on Friday, and the winner is Sidney Poitier's The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography. You know, I might just read this one.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jan 23 2007

It's Baaaack

Oprah Winfrey is set to pick a new book for her Oprah's Book Club this Friday, Jan. 26. It will be her first selection since choosing Elie Wiesel's Night just over a year ago. We wait with bated breath.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Jan 23 2007

On Shelves Now: The End

The End, a new collection of short strips by Chicago artist Anders Nilsen hits shelves today. [via] I recently read Nilsen's graphic novel, Monologues for the Coming Plague, which is excellent. It's well worth seeking out.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jan 22 2007

Report from the Chicago Bargain Books Expo

"This is the biggest and most important exhibit in the world for bargain books." Who knew? In the Sunday Sun-Times, Cheryl Reed goes behind the scenes at the Chicago International Remainder and Overstock Book Exposition, where booksellers from around the world meet to buy and sell used books. Sadly, the expo is not open to the public. [via]

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jan 22 2007

National Book Critics Circle Awards

The nominees for the National Book Critics Circle Awards have been announced, and What is the What by Chicago-native Dave Eggers has been nominated in the fiction category. You can check out the full list of nominees at the NBCC website. You can also read a series of partial excerpts from the book at The Believer site, starting here with Part One.

Alice Maggio

News Wed Dec 27 2006

A Visit to Chicago Comics

"Comics are a medium, not a fad. Fads die. Mediums rarely do." The Comics Reporter visited Chicago recently and has an interview with Chicago Comics owner Eric Kirsammer and manager Eric Thornton, plus lots of photos of the store.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Dec 19 2006

Daley Remembered

The Sun-Times remembers the first Mayor Daley today as we near the 30th anniversary of his death. They've reprinted both the original story and Mike Royko's tribute, which ran the day after his death. (The tribute is also printed in the 1988 editon of Royko's Boss, which I expect all of you to be reading for January.)

Veronica Bond

News Wed Dec 06 2006

USA Fellowship

United States Artists, a nonprofit arts organization, awarded one of their $50,000 fellowships to Chris Ware, the only Chicago author on the list of the first fifty recipients.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Dec 05 2006

You Mean, It's Not Just Basketball?

From the main page, a group of Harry Potter enthusiasts is scoping out Chicago for the site of a week-long Harry Potter conference scheduled for August 2008. While the conference will provide a platform for an academic discussion of the books, more jovial activities are also planned. There will be a welcoming dinner where participants will sit at their "house table" and a Muggle version of Quidditch (turns out Soldier Field was a little too pricey). No word yet on outrageous protests due to the wizard and witchcraft themes, but I'll keep you posted.

Veronica Bond

News Mon Dec 04 2006

Fahrenheit 2006

Forbes has an interesting article on the history of book burning, citing Anthony Comstock's 1866 New York Society for the Suppression of Vice as the original fire behind the, um, fires. It dates back much further than that, though, with speculations that the most famous book burning was at the Royal Library at Alexandria in Egypt (the exact date is disputed, but suffice it to say it was a long, long time ago). Unfortunately, the practice of book burning is still alive and the article introduces us to two Michigan pastors who held burnings of the Harry Potter books and one Maine pastor who, unable to get a burning permit, cut the books up instead. Says notorious free speech proponent Ray Bradbury (my literary hero and the author of our September '05 Book Club pick) of the pastor in Maine: "He sounds like a stupid man...he should just go somewhere, sit down and shut up." Amen, Mr. Bradbury. Amen. [via]

For a related story in old-but-still-good news, check out this father who, though never having read the seminal Bradbury work, pushed to have his daughter's school district remove Fahrenheit 451 from the curriculum. This occurred during Banned Books Week, no less. Something tells me the blinding irony is completely lost on him. But a bright spot can be found in this update that tells of fellow students circulating a petition in support of the book. They seem to have gotten Bradbury's message. [via]

Veronica Bond

News Mon Nov 27 2006

Chris Ware @ Wisconsin Book Festival

Chris Ware recently appeared at the Wisconsin Book Festival with fellow comic artist Marjane Satrapi for the Wisconsin Public Radio's "To the Best of Our Knowledge" program. If you missed it because you were, you know, in Chicago, the WPR website has the entire talk, unedited, which you can download in mp3 format (scroll down to "Websites" to find the link) and Isthmus has a video of Ware's segment. [Thanks, So-Called Austin Mayor.]

Veronica Bond

News Thu Sep 21 2006

Read a Banned Book

September 23-30, 2006 is Banned Books Week, an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association designed to remind all of us in the United States to excercise our intellectual freedom. Below is a list of a few banned books by authors with a Chicago connection. Pick one up at a local library and say to everyone you know: "I read banned books."

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
This classic novel about a young man who drowns his pregnant lover was first published in 1925 and was based on a true story. It was banned in Boston, Mass. in 1927 and burned by the Nazis in Germany in 1933. [via]

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
A Farewell to Arms is the story of Frederic Henry, an American ambulance driver on the Italian front during World War I, who falls in love with Catherine Barkley, an English nurse he meets while recovering from injuries in the hospital. The book was originally published in 1929 and banned in Italy the same year. It was later banned in Ireland in 1939 and has faced several documented challenges over the past several decades. [via]

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
A young American professor uses his sabbatical to go and fight in the Spanish Civil War.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Once, twice, three times a banned author. Papa Hemingway's first full-length novel, which was first published in 1926, was also banned several times. The Sun Also Rises is about a group of American and British expatriates living in Paris after World War I.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
We read this classic Chicago story about Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant who goes to work in the city's notorious stockyards, for the Book Club last year. Among other incidents, The Jungle was "banned from public libraries in Yugoslavia" in 1929 and "burned in the Nazi bonfires because of Sinclair's socialist views" in 1933. [via]

Native Son by Richard Wright
This violent and tragic novel about Bigger Thomas, a young black man who accidently kills a white woman in 1930s Chicago, has been challenged many, many times since its publication in 1940 for its graphic language and sexual content.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Aug 29 2006

One Book, One Chicago Fall 2006

The Chicago Public Library officially announced today that the Fall 2006 selection of the One Book, One Chicago citywide book club is Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. Interpreter of Maladies is a best-selling collection of short stories which won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Visit the official One Book, One Chicago website to find out more, and mark your calendar for October 9 at 6pm, when Jhumpa Lahiri is scheduled to appear at the Harold Washington Library to talk about the book.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 07 2006

Take a Class on Nelson Algren's Chicago

Are you someone looking to meet new people? Or maybe you just can't get enough of our July 2006 book club pick, The Man with the Golden Arm. In either case, consider checking out "Nelson Algren's Chicago," a class being offered this fall through Continuum, Loyola University Chicago's new continuing education program. According to the course description, the class will focus on The Man with the Golden Arm and Algren's prose poem, Chicago: City on the Make.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 07 2006

Sharpening The Knife

Elsewhere on Gapers Block this week, Dana Kaye gives us a preview of The Blade Itself, the debut novel by Marcus Sakey.

Sakey is also a contributor to The Outfit: A Collective of Chicago Crime Writers, which is one of my new favorite local blogs.

Alice Maggio

News Mon Aug 07 2006

Back to The Jungle

I heard an unconfirmed rumor that the Fall 2006 selection for One Book, One Chicago may be Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, which the Gapers Block Book Club read last year. True or not, the official announcement for the next pick for the citywide book club is due later this month, so we'll have to wait and see.

In case you didn't know, 2006 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Jungle, so the book has been receiving much renewed attention this year.

Last month in Slate, Karen Olsson wondered how well the novel has held up over the past century:

"But for all its packaging, the book still carries a whiff of homework, and if we already dutifully absorbed the idea that the turn-of-century meat industry was brutal and exploitative as adolescents, what's to be gained from reading it again?"

The Nation reviews two new biographies of Upton Sinclair and examines Sinclair's significance:

"One hundred years ago, Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, his gut-churning exposé of the meatpacking industry that schoolchildren still read today in their history classes. A well-merchandized sensation, it sold 100,000 copies in the first year, millions after that, was almost immediately translated into seventeen languages, spurred an uptick in vegetarianism, greased the way for the Meat Inspection and Pure Food and Drug acts, and transformed its 27-year-old Socialist author into a celebrity."

And The Guardian gets in on the act, providing some of the historical context of the novel's publication:

"It is difficult to think of a book, let alone a novel, that has forced the state to respond in such a comprehensive manner. And yet, while Sinclair was delighted with both sales and fame, it was not quite the response that he intended. He had dedicated the book to the "Workingmen of America" and had set out to make an emotional appeal to the nation over the plight of the working poor and the prospects of a socialist alternative. Instead he had generated a public panic about food quality."

If you missed reading the The Jungle last year for the GB Book Club, now may be the perfect time to pick it up.

Alice Maggio

News Tue Aug 01 2006

The Best of Roger Ebert

"No critic alive has reviewed more movies than Roger Ebert, and yet his essential writings have never been collected in a single volume—until now."

The University of Chicago Press is publishing Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert this fall. The anthology promises to collect some of the best of Ebert's writing over the past forty years, including interviews, reviews and essays. Visit the publisher's information page to view the full table of contents. The Chicago Blog also has an excerpt from an advance review of the book.

Alice Maggio

News Sat Jul 22 2006

Nate Duncan, 1930-2006

Nate Duncan, owner of Nate's Deli, the Maxwell Street destination that was torn down by the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1994, passed away this week. GB book club readers will remember Nate Duncan as one of the four people featured in our May 2006 book club pick, Near West Side Stories: Struggles for Community in Chicago's Maxwell Street Neighborhood by Carolyn Eastwood. You may read Mr. Duncan's obituary in the Chicago Tribune.

Alice Maggio

News Sun Jul 16 2006

826CHI Club

We all know how great and fun a good book club can be, so it's exciting that 826CHI has started their own. Called "Globiblio," their club focuses on reading authors from all over the world. The meetings will be on the first Tuesday of the month and participants are encouraged to BYOB and BYODIBTCWETMIYSD (Bring Your Own Dish Inspired by the Country We Explored that Month If You So Desire). Upcoming reads include JM Coetzee of South Africa, Michael Crummey of Canada and Jaroslav Haske of Czechoslovakia. Room is limited, so sign up if you're interested by emailing info[at]826chi[dot]org.

Veronica Bond

News Tue Jul 11 2006

ChicagoManual.com is Coming

As it celebrates its 100th year of publication, the Chicago Manual of Style will also celebrate a new birth, this one of the digital variety. Scheduled for release in September, the Chicago Manual of Style Online will feature a fully searchable version of the 15th edition along with added tools for editors, writers and publishers. The only drawback is that it'll cost you $25 for one year of use, but if you register as a member you'll be notified of the release and be offered a free 30-day trial. It could really be worth it.

Veronica Bond

News Sun Jul 09 2006

The Chicago Outfit

New blog alert! Local writers Sean Chercover, Barbara D'Amato, Michael Allen Dymmoch, Kevin Guilfoile, Libby Hellmann, Sara Paretsky and Marcus Sakey have teamed up to form The Outfit: A Collective of Chicago Crime Writers. This new group blog launches this week and promises to feature stories by these award-winning authors about the city, the "highs and lows of writing for a living" and "crime and justice and revenge." I can't wait.

Alice Maggio

News Sun Jul 09 2006

Guzman on NPR

Richard R. Guzman, editor of the recently published anthology Black Writing from Chicago: In the World, Not of It?, was recently on WBEZ's "848" show. You can listen to the segment online. [via]

Alice Maggio

News Mon Jul 03 2006

Book Clubs at Chicago Public Library

The folks at the Chicago Public Library alerted us to the complete schedule of July book club discussions at library branches throughout Chicago. This month groups are reading books such as Dragon Bones by Lisa See, Old School by Tobias Wolff, Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond and more. So, if one book club just isn't enough for you, check it out.

Alice Maggio

News Sat Jul 01 2006

J.A. Konrath

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has an interview with J.A. Konrath, author of the popular Jacqueline Daniels mystery series and an instructor at the College of DuPage in suburban Glen Ellyn. Find out more about Konrath at his official website.

Alice Maggio

News Sat Jul 01 2006

New Biography of Upton Sinclair

One of the first books we read for the Gapers Block Book Club was Upton Sinclair's classic muckraking novel, The Jungle. Now, 100 years after the publication of that book, there is a new biography of the author. The book is Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair by Anthony Arthur, and it has been getting many positive reviews. Read what the Chicago Sun-Times and USA Today had to say about Radical Innocent.

I've been on a major biography kick lately, and I might have to add this one to the bunch.

Alice Maggio

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

 

Events



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, ah@gapersblock.com
Book Club staff inbox: bookclub@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15