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Book Club

Quotable Fri Aug 29 2008

Quotable Friday

After a brief hiatus, all hail the return of Quotable Friday , where we highlight a notable passage from a book with a Chicago connection. This week's quotable is from Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris:

"We didn't know who was responsible for putting the sushi roll behind Joe Pope's bookshelf. The first couple of days Joe had no clue about the sushi. Then he started taking furtive sniffs at his pits, and holding the wall of his palm to his mouth to get blowback from his breath. By the end of the week, he was certain it wasn't him.We smelled it, too. Persistent, high in the nostrils, it became worse than a dying animal. Joe's gorge rose every time he entered his office. The following week the smell was so atrocious the building people got involved, hunting the office for what turned out to be a sunshine roll- tuna, whitefish, salmon, and sprouts. Mike Boroshansky, the chief of security, kept bringing his tie up to his nose, as if he were a real cop at the scene of a murder."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Jul 25 2008

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 by Morris Markey, writing about Chicago for McCall's magazine in March 1932:

"The thing was explosive in its effect upon the eye—more the fabulous projection of a city than a city itself. New York and London, Paris and Berlin and Vienna suddenly became old-fashioned in the memory. This was like a monstrous theatrical spectacle, when the curtain first goes up and you are a little dazed and you say, 'But heavens! It's more stunning than the real thing!' I felt as if the fireworks would commence at any instant, with rockets soaring and terrible detonations shaking the air, and that a flaming screen a mile high would begin to spell in red and white and blue: 'Chicago—World's Greatest City.'"

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Jul 18 2008

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 our August Book Club selection, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum:

"Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife. Their house was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagon many miles. There were four walls, a floor and a roof, which made one room; and this room contained a rusty-looking cooking stove, a cupboard for the dishes, a table, three or four chairs, and the beds. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em had a big bed in one corner and Dorothy a little bed in another corner. There was no garret at all, and no cellar—except a small hole dug in the ground, called a cyclone cellar, where the family could go in case one of those great whirlwinds arose, mighty enough to crush any building in its path. It was reached by a trap door in the middle of the floor, from which a ladder led down into the small, dark hole."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Jul 11 2008

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 An Autobiography by Frank Lloyd Wright:

"We do not choose the style. No. Style is what is coming now and it will be what we are in all this. A thrilling moment in any architect's experience. He is about to see the countenance of something he is invoking with intense concentration. Out of this inner sense of order and love of the beauty of life something is to be born — maybe to live long as a message of hope and be a joy or a curse to his kind. His message he feels. None the less it will be "theirs," and rather more. And it is out of love and understanding that any building is born to bless or curse those it is built to serve. Bless them if they will see, understand and aid. Curse them as it will be cursed by them if either they or the architect fail to understand each other. This is the faith and the fear in the architect as he makes ready — to draw his design."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Jun 27 2008

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 Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago by Lealan Jones and Lloyd Newman. The authors were 13 years old when they conducted two award-winning National Public Radio documentaries in 1993 and 1995 about their experiences growing up in Chicago's Ida B. Wells Homes. This book is comprised of unused material from those broadcasts.

"Our neighborhood is a fun neighborhood if you know what you're doing. If you act like a little kid in this neighborhood, you're not gonna last too long. 'Cause if you play childish games in the ghetto, you're going to find a childish bullet in your childish brain. If you live in the ghetto, when you're ten you know everything you're not supposed to know. When I was ten I knew where drugs came from. I knew about every different kind of gun. I knew about sex. I was a kid in age, but my mind had the reality of a grown-up, 'cause I seen these things every day!

"Like when I was eight years old, my cousin Willy had a friend named Baby Tony and another friend, Little Cecil. They used to hang out—watch TV, go to the park and hoop, sell drugs. They all went to jail. When Baby Tony acme out he was walking through the park when a boy lit him up and blew his face off. His face was entirely blown off. And then a couple of days later Little Cecil sold somebody a dummy bag of plaster from off the walls, so the man who was using it came back and asked for his money back. Little Cecil took off running and the man shot him. And Cecil was dead. That was both of my cousin's friends that died in one week!"

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Jun 20 2008

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 our current book club selection, Free Burning by Bayo Ojikutu:

"Over here is nothing like the strips downtown, where folks march fast as legs move them—fast and slow all at once. Those people are headed where they don't want to be without any other choice in life but going there. Marching lines straight and ordered. Northbound against the curbside, southbound against the buildings, marching and hustling in their own way, to some bosses' time.

But 79th Street's sidewalks are too narrow for such downtown order. Our blocks were built for Jews and Germans and Polish long ago, those tiny, straight-line folk. Now just one jive soul heads east, walking directly toward another headed west. Folk dip and limp and slide their way through just in time, some imagined time. When the sidewalk becomes too clogged, the hustlers walk out in the middle of the street and force the cars to limp and slide on by."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Jun 13 2008

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 The Sweetheart Is In by S.L. Wisenberg:

"Ruthie imagines sex without pain. She imagines it the way she tried to reconstruct dreams, really reconstruct. Or builds an image while she is praying. She imagines a blue castle somewhere on high, many steps, a private room, fur rug, long mattress, white stucco walls, tiny windows. She imagines leaving her body. It frightens her. If she leaves her body, leaves it cavorting on the bed/fur rug/kitchen table (all is possible when there is sex without pain), she may not get it back. Her body may just get up and walk away, without her, wash itself, apply blusher mascara lipstick, draw up her clothes around it, take her purse and go out to dinner. Big Ruthie herself will be left on the ceiling, staring down at the indentations on the mattress and rug, wishing she could reach down and take a book from a shelf."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Thu Jun 05 2008

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 Battleground Chicago: The Police and the 1968 Democratic National Convention by Frank Kusch:

"At issue was the belief that anyone donning counterculture dress was a threat. There were no more 'innocent flower children.' Former cop Norm Nelson, for example, viewed the Yippies as what the hippies had become, having now abandoned all pretense of flower power and peace. Nelson had read about them in the local papers. 'We knew who they were—they had metamorphosed into the real thing. Yippie was the myth. It was the coming of war; from ’67 on it was a battle, and they were showing their true colors in the weeks and months leading up to the convention in our city.…Let’s put it this way, we were ready for those SOBs.'”

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri May 23 2008

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 our current book club selection, Naked by David Sedaris:

"Growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina, one of the worst things you could say about a person was that he or she had a family member at Dix Hill, the common name for Dorothea Dix Sanitarium, the local state mental hospital. Designed by the same people who brought you Dreary Orphanage for Forsaken Children and Gabled House Haunted by Ghost of Hatchet Murderer, Dorothea Dix was a bleak colony of Gothic buildings perched upon a hilltop near the outskirts of town. In the winter its surrounding tree limbs resembled palsied fingers of mad scientists tapping against the windows in search of fresh brains. Come summer these same trees, green and leafy, served to hide something unspeakably sinister. Whenever we passed by the place, my sister and I would stick our heads out the car window, expecting to hear a hysterical voice cackling, 'I'm mad, I tell you, MAD!'"

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri May 16 2008

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 The Sea Fairies by L. Frank Baum:

"Why hasn't anybody seen a mermaid and lived?" asked Trot again.

"'Cause mermaids is fairies, an' ain't meant to be seen by us mortal folk," replied Cap'n Bill.

"But if anyone happens to see 'em, what then, Cap'n?"

"Then," he answered, slowly wagging his head, "the mermaids give 'em a smile an' a wink, an' they dive into the water an' gets drownded."

"S'pose they knew how to swim, Cap'n Bill?"

"That don't make any diff'rence, Trot. The mermaids live deep down, an' the poor mortals never come up again."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri May 09 2008

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 The Chicago River: A Natural and Unnatural History by Libby Hill:

Humans ventured into the Chicagoland area approximately 12,000 years ago as the glacier receded and the climate became more inviting to plants and animals. Their successive cultures adapted to the changes in the landscape as the lakes ancestral to Lake Michigan varied in size.

If man or animal lived here before the Wisconsin glacial episode, all evidence was removed by the action of the ice. Huge animals came in as soon after the glaciers as the area was habitable for them. It is hard to imagine the immense woolly mammoth, a beast with long shaggy hair and huge curved tusks, grazing here in the meadow, while its smaller but still enormous reddish cousin, the mastodon, browsed on trees and in the grasslands, perhaps in the neighborhood of your own backyard. Both animals, relatives of the elephant, were probably common, and both were ideally suited to the cold climates that followed in the wake of the glaciers.

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri May 02 2008

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 our current book club pick, The Grass Dancer by Susan Power:

Frank Pipe would never forget the sound of glass exploding in the dark room. Something had burst through the window behind him, and he was lucky for a hanging quilt, which stopped most of the spinning glass that flew through the air like shrapnel. In the sudden moonlight, Frank identified the creature as the largest coyote he had ever seen, tall as a pony. It lunged for one of the participants, and though hands stretched to hold him, the man was carried off like a bone, his head cracking against the window frame as the coyote leapt into the night with its victim. Leo Mitchell's body was found the next day at the foot of Angry Butte, punctured by incisors thick as pencils.

Herod said: "The spirits weren't satisfied with just identifying the person who did those terrible things. They wanted justice."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Apr 25 2008

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 the autobiography American Daughter by Era Bell Thompson, which was first published in 1946:

Cranks, philanthropists, or plain, everyday Americans, I like them all. For every bad one, there are twenty good ones. We can't always find jobs for them, we aren't always successful at getting them to take the jobs we find, but we can give them a kind and sympathetic audience. It is surprising to know how many people in the world are hungry for kindness, to have someone believe in them. And I do believe in them.

When a forelady in a box factory asks, "Isn't it wonderful to live in a country where you can sit down and tell your troubles to someone and have them listen?"

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Apr 18 2008

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. April is National Poetry Month, so this week's quotable is Carl Sandburg's poem "At a Window" from Chicago Poems.

At a Window

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Apr 11 2008

Quotable Friday

Quotable Friday is back! every Friday on the book club blog we highlight a notable passage from a book with a Chicago connection. This week's quotable is from our current book club selection, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides:

"The most famous hermaphrodite in history? Me? It felt good to write that, but I've got a long way to go. I'm closeted at work, revealing myself only to a few friends. At cocktail receptions, when I find myself standing next to the former ambassador (also a native of Detroit), we talk about the Tigers. Only a few people here in Berlin know my secret. I tell more people than I used to, but I'm not at all consistent. Some nights I tell people I've just met. In other cases I keep silent forever."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Mar 21 2008

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 Lake Effect, a memoir by Rich Cohen:

In the autumn of 1972, my family moved to Glencoe from Libertyville, a farming town in northern Illinois. We were the only Jewish family in Libertyville. When I asked my father if he had met with much anti-Semitism, he smiled and said, "Are you kidding? When we moved in, the neighbors shook my hand and said, 'Thank God, we were afraid they would sell to Catholics.' They hadn't even worked their way down to us yet."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Mar 14 2008

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 Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller:

"As soon as Mark shut the door to his room, Emily sat down heavily at the foot of his rumpled bed and said, 'Oh, Daddy, it's John. John's dead.' Her face twisted, and tears immediately began sliding down it, as though she'd been waiting until this moment to allow herself her full measure of grief.

"'What do you mean?' John was Eva's husband, the girls' stepfather. Theo's father.

"'He's dead, Daddy.' Her hands came to her face now and covered her opened mouth. She inhaled sharply through her fingers, and then closed her eyes. 'He got hit…by a car. A car hit him.'

"Mark pictured it. He pictured it wrong, as it turned out, but he saw John then—his large body, bloody, slumped behind the wheel of his ruined car. He saw him dead, though he didn't believe it."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Mar 07 2008

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 The Book of Ralph by John McNally:

"Ralph ran a hand up and over his head, flattening his hair before some freak combination of wind and static electricity blew it straight up and into a real-life fright wig.

"We were standing at the far edge of the blacktop at Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Grade School, as far away from the recess monitor as we could get. It was 1978, the year we started eighth grade, though Ralph would have been in high school already if he hadn't failed both the third and fifth grades. He was nearly a foot taller than the rest of us, and every few weeks new sprigs of whiskers popped up along his cheeks and chin, scaring the girls and prompting the principal, Mr. Santoro, to drop into our homeroom unexpectedly and deliver speeches about personal hygiene.

"'Boys,' Mr. Santoro would say. 'Some of you are starting to look like hoodlums.' Though he addressed his insult to all the boys, everyone knew he meant Ralph."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Feb 29 2008

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 Selling the Race: Culture, Community, and Black Chicago, 1940-1955 by Adam Green:

"When asked in 1955 to account for the successes of Black Chicago's music, guitarist Bill Broonzy remarked that it was 'just born in us to sing and play the blues.' Naturalizing genius in this way remains the signature of most accounts of African-American music in the Windy City. Black music, by most lights, signifies the staying power of blackness itself: LeRoi Jones once described it as 'the one vector out of African culture impossible to eradicate.' Given Chicago's historic representation as the site of change and even destabilization for its black inhabitants old and new, such promises of enduring nature held special attractions. Little wonder then that accounts of Black Chicago so often present musical culture and community as synonyms for one another, reminding us of Jones's further variation on Bill Broonzy's theme: 'the song and the people is the same.'"

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Feb 22 2008

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 our current book club selection, Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky:

"I hadn't expected the fire—I hadn't expected anything when I came here. It was only some prickling of unease—dis-ease—that sent me back to Fly the Flag on my way home. I'd actually made the turn onto Route 41 when I decided to check on the factory. I'd made a U-turn onto Escanaba and zigzagged across the broken streets to South Chicago Avenue. It was six o'clock then, already dark, but I could see a handful of cars in Fly the Flag's yard when I drove by. There weren't any pedestians out, not that there are ever many down here; only a few cars straggled past, beaters, people leaving the few standing factories to head for bars or even home."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Feb 15 2008

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 The Public Dance Halls of Chicago by Louise de Koven Bowen, an investigation into and condemnation of Chicago's dance halls, circa 1910. You may read the complete text online at the Library of Congress website. It is part of the online exhibit, "An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals, ca.1490-1920"

:

"All the investigators report that up to about eleven p.m., generally speaking, the dances are well conducted; the crowd then begins to show the effect of too much liquor. Men and women become intoxicated and dance indecently such dances as 'Walkin' the Dog,' 'On the Puppy's Tail,' 'Shaking the Shimmy,' 'The Dip,' 'The Stationary Wiggle,' etc, In some instances, little children—of whom there are often large numbers present—are given liquor and become intoxicated, much to the amusement of their elders. Many of them are forgotten by their parents in the excitement of the dance, and play upon the filthy floor, witnesses of all kinds of degradation.

"At most halls the crowds begin drinking their liquor from glasses, then later they take, it from bottles and toward the close of the evening it is brought in by cases. One investigator counted one hundred empty cases of beer bottles and a large number of empty cases of wine bottles in one room at a recent North Side dance."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Feb 08 2008

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 Seven Moves by Carol Anshaw:

"Chris and Taylor hope to eventually join the ranks of the renovators, but have had the house only a few months and so far have been able to afford only the most meager and necessary improvements. This is the first house either of them has ever owned, and it makes them feel as though they've moved to America. After years of apartments with stairwells full of peculiar cooking smells, ceilings throbbing with other people's stereos, discouraging connections with the flooding bathrooms and stray roaches of strangers, they are now blessed with autonomy and silent nights, and a backyard for grilling and letting the dog out in the morning, for planning a garden. They no longer have to lug everything long blocks from parking spaces in their former, high-density neighborhood."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Feb 01 2008

Quotable Friday

Time for another 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 "Puzzle Man" by Asa Baber:

"I'm not crazy, no matter what people say. I have valid reasons for everything I did, and I am at peace. My complete story will never be told, but when my heart is stopped by Uncle Sam's pharmaceuticals, my spirit will ascend like a white balloon over the Wabash River and fly up to heaven. God will welcome me into his house, saying, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. You followed your beliefs and acted on them. You have been a steadfast patriot to your cause, and I hereby place you at my right hand.'"

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Jan 25 2008

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 our current book club selection, The Enchanters Vs. Sprawlburg Springs by Brian Costello. Narrator Shaquille Callahan tells us how it felt to play for The Enchanters:

"The practices were played like shows in front of thousands of people, and the shows were played like practices where it was just us. There was no difference. We were always fully in the moment, and the songs never got old because we played them differently each time, always caught up on that thin line between creation and falling on your face. Me and that red sparkly drum set exploded and reformed continually, my head swimming in the wine and cough syrup torpor. Donald leapt around and smashed the guitar into his head and smiled, and Mickey stared at the floor in dextrapamorphanic ecstasy. It was the best."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Jan 18 2008

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 Hunting for Frogs on Elston by Jerry Sullivan, a collection of nature essays Sullivan wrote for the Chicago Reader during the 1980s and '90s. I pick this paasage this week because orientation for the Chicago Wilderness Calling Frog Survey starts next week, and volunteer frog monitors are still needed. Visit the website to find out how to get involved.

"We didn't hear another frog until the last stop on our itinerary, a former forest preserve north of Oakton Street along the North Branch of the Chicago River. These were chorus frogs again, and we sat along the roadside to enjoy the music. Our presence attracted the police, but after Laurel offered the sensible explanation that we were counting frogs, the policeman drove off, his expression suggesting that we were nuts, but probably harmless nuts."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Jan 11 2008

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 And Then They All Sang by Studs Terkel, as he writes about Mahalia Jackson:

"On Sunday mornings, I visit the Greater Salem Baptist church. It is on the city's West Side. There are intimations of rubble arouns and about. urban renewal is just getting under way. here are parishoners, bone-weary after a week of unsung work, for a wage not worth singing about; here they are, listening to song, such as I, whose work is so much easier and whose wage is so much better, have never heard. It is at such time and circumstance that I become aware of my own arrogance. For a stupid moment, I had thought I discovered Mahalia Jackson. On occasion, I run into somebody who obtusely insists it is so. Most disheartening are those quite gifted singers of gospel music in this city who, God help us all, attribute Mahalia's 'success' to me. It is cause for tears as well as laughter. The people of Greater Salem know better."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Jan 04 2008

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 "The Cold War", just one of the stories collected in Trouble by Patrick Somerville:

"When he woke up Saturday morning, Dr. Richard Eaves took a shower, dressed, found his red hat, and went out to the driveway to shovel. It had snowed overnight. Freezing wind and gray, dead grass had mutated into a pleasant landscape of quilted houses and frozen lawns. He sometimes wondered whether the winters were really getting warmer, whether corroded layers of gases were allowing more insidious gases into the planet. It sounded unlikely, and political, but he didn't know. He didn't have the information. He had once cared about science, and intellectual honesty, and empirical data, but his love for these things had slowly faded over the years, and now he cared mainly about shoveling."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Dec 21 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 our current book club selection, Never a City So Real by Alex Kotlowitz. In this excerpt, Kotlowitz relates his first meeting with one of the Chicagoans profiled in the book, artist Milton Reed:

"I first met Reed in 1999, while visiting a woman in the Stateway Gardens Public Housing complex, which was then a collection of eight seventeen-story high-rises. He was in the living room of my hostess, where he was painting a gold-trimmed black panther on the cinderblock wall. He had a forty-ounce bottle of Colt 45 beside him, and he was so completely engaged in his work that he didn't say a word. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the rendering, though it was clear that Reed had taken great care with it. He had first sketched the outlines of the panther in pencil, using a ruler and right angle, and then had gone to work with oil-based house paint. Because of its permanence, there was little room for error. I assumed at the time that the panther was meant to conjure up more radical days. I later learned, however, that a number of years before a woman had asked Reed to paint a black panther with gold trim on her kitchen wall to match her black and gold furniture, a common color pairing among public-housing residents. ('They all follow that same tradition,' Reed told me.) word quickly spread, and soon Reed had a reputation. Public-housing residents came to know him as 'Mr. Artist — as in 'Mr. Artist, how much you charge for one them murals?'"

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Dec 14 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 The Common Lot by Robert Herrick (1863-1938). Herrick was an English professor at the University of Chicago who wrote more than a dozen novels, most written in the tradition of social realism. The Common Lot was first published in 1904.

"Business was war, he said to himself again and again, and in this war only the little fellows had to be strictly honest. The big ones, those that governed the world, stole, lied, cheated their fellows openly in the market. The Bushfields took their rake-off; the Rainbows were the financial pimps, who fattened on the vices of the great industrial leaders. Colonel Raymond might discharge a man on his road who stole fifty cents or was seen to enter a bucket shop, but in the reorganization of the Michigan Northern ten years previously, he and his friends had pocketed several millions of dollars, and had won the lawsuits brought against them by the defrauded stockholders.

"It was a world of graft, the architect judged cynically. Old Powers Jackson, it was said in Chicago, would cheat the glass eye out of his best friend in a deal. He, too, would follow in the path of the strong, and take what was within his reach. He would climb hardily to the top, and then who cared? That gospel of strenuous effort, which our statesmen and orators are so fond of shouting forth, has its followers in the little Jackson Harts. Only, in putting forth their strong right arms, they often thrust them into their neighbors' pockets. And the irresponsible great ones, who have emerged beyond the reign of law, have their disciples in all the strata of society,—down, down to the boy who plays the races with the cash in his employer's till."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Dec 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 Dutch Chicago: A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City by Robert P. Swierenga:

"The lives of Chicago Dutch Calvinists revolved around their churches. The church stood at the center of the community and defined the religious culture that differentiated the Dutch from other groups. While mannerisms, dress, lace curtains, and a miniature windmill on the front lawn might betray their Dutchness, it was in the religious realm that it came to fullest expression. The church was the one institution brought from the motherland that they could preserve. The Dutch language almost immediately gave way to English in the streets and workplace, as did American style dress and demeanor. But within the ethnic community and its many societies, services, and extended families, one could live from the cradle to the grave among fellow believers and enjoy a measure of security not available to those outside the pale."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Nov 30 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 Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow:

"The temperature was in the nineties, and on hot nights Chicagoans feel the city body and soul. The stockyards are gone, Chicago is no longer slaughter-city, but the old smells revive in the night heat. Miles of railroad siding along the streets once were filled with red cattle cars, the animals waiting to enter the yards lowing and reeking. The old stink still haunts the place. It returns at times, suspiring from the vacated soil, to remind us all that Chicago had once led the world in butcher-technology and that billions of animals had died here. And that night the windows were wide open and the familiar depressing multilayered stink of meat, tallow, blood-meal, pulverized bones, hides, soap, smoked slabs, and burnt hair came back. Old Chicago breathed again through leaves and screens."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Nov 16 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 The Pit: A Story of Chicago by Frank Norris, which was first published in 1903.

"But when at last Laura entered upon possession of the North Avenue house, she was not—after the first enthusiasm and excitement over its magnificance had died down—altogether pleased with it, though she told herself the contrary. Outwardly it was all that she could desire. It fronted Lincoln park, and from all the windows upon that side the most delightful outlooks were obtainable—green woods, open lawns, the parade ground, the Lincoln monument, dells, bushes, smooth drives, flower beds, and fountains. From the great bay window of Laura's own sitting-room she could see far out over Lake Michigan and watch the procession of great lake steamers from Milwaukee, far-distant Duluth, and the Sault Sainte Marie—the famous "Soo"—defiling magestically past, making for the mouth of the river, laden to the water's edge with whole harvests of wheat. At night, when the windows were open in the warm weather, she could hear the mournful wash and lapping of the water on the embankments."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Nov 09 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 The Spook Who Sat by the Door by Sam Greenlee:

"Spring ended abruptly. A hot, moist air mass moved up from the Gulf of Mexico across the plains and into Chicago, smothering the city and turning the night into a furnace, the brick buildings radiating the heat collected from the sun during the day. Life in the ghetto moved outside, onto the door steps of the houses, into the air-conditioned bars and the cinemas that sold cool air and Doris Day dreams. On the South Side there was Washington Park, and families moved at night into its cool greenness, sleeping on blankets under the stars until the first rays of the sun, returning to their stifling rooms to snatch a few more minutes of sleep before meeting the hot, humid day. Beer, watermelon, ice cream, anything cool, but there was no way to leave the engulfing heat. The city lay gasping like a big beast, tempers shortened, and the ghetto lay like a bomb waiting to explode."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Nov 02 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 Peel My Love Like an Onion by Ana Castillo, our September 2007 Book Club selection:

"For some reason looking Mexican means you can't be America. And my cousins tell me, the ones who've gone to Mexico but who were born on this side like me, that over there they're definitely not Mexican. Because you were born on this side pocha is what you're called there, by your unkind relatives and strangers on the street and even waiters in restaurants when they overhear your whispered English and wince at your bad Spanish. Still, you try at least. You try like no one else on earth tries to be in two places at once. Being pocha means you try here and there, this way and that, and still you don't fit. Not here and not there."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Oct 26 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 Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair, our August 2006 book club selection. The narrator, Jean "Stevie" Stevenson, is a young woman growing up on Chicago's South Side in the mid-1960s in this coming-of-age tale.

"I still thought breasts might be more trouble than they were worth. Growing up reminded me a little bit of Hide and Go Seek. When it was your time to grow up, Nature said, 'Here I come, ready or not.' And Nature could always find you."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Oct 19 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 The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg, our May 2007 Book Club selection. Betta tries to deal with her husband's terminal cancer in this excerpt:

"Near the end, I started looking for signs that the inevitable would not be inevitable. I watched the few leaves hat refused to give up their green to the demands of the season. I took comfort in the way the sun shone brightly on a day they predicted rain—not a cloud in the sky! I even tried to formulate messages of hope in the arrangements of coins on the dresser top—look how they all landed heads up, what were the odds?"

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Oct 12 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 The Chicago Produce Market by Edwin Griswold Nourse (Houghton Mifflin, 1918). This passage describes the great produce market that used to exist right along the south side of the Chicago River downtown:

"South Water Street is a short east-and-west street, which lies between the downtown business district ("the Loop") on the south and the Chicago River on the north. The portion used for produce-market purposes is a scant half- mile in length — from State Street west to the turn of the river. Since the re-numbering of the city a few years ago, this has become officially West South Water Street, but, in common usage, little or no attention is paid to this distinction. In fact, to those most concerned it is — and probably will always remain — simply "the Street." Generally speaking, fruit and vegetable dealers are located in the eastern part of the district, while the western end contains the establishments which specialize in meat, poultry, and dairy products. Likewise, the initiated observe a distinction between the north and the south sides of the street, the latter being known as the "busy side." It has the obvious advantages in summer of being the shady side, and stores on this side of the street run back to an alley, which is convenient for handling goods, whereas those on the other side, besides being quite shallow in depth, back up to the Chicago River, from which no goods are received. Both sides of the street are lined with low brick stores, none of them new and many of them dating back to the days just following the great fire of '71."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Oct 05 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 Chicago and Its Suburbs by Everett Chamberlin, which was published in 1874. You can read the book in its entirety through Google Book Search, but the following passage is from a description of Lake View, which was then a suburb of Chicago:


"This is a large township, extending north from the city limits, a distance of over 5 1/2 miles, and from the lake shore west from two to three miles. The south boundary is but two and a half miles from Clark street bridge. Its natural features are among the best in the vicinity of Chicago. The wooded section, in the southern edge of which Lincoln Park is situated, extends along the lake shore, far to the north, and many miles beyond the northern limits of Lake View. This gives the place the very desirable advantage of grove lots throughout its length and breadth and affords many very pretty residence sites which have been largely taken advantage of by citizens of Chicago whose means enabled them to enclose large lots and build handsome homes upon them. The place is thickly settled as a consequence of these advantages, and its nearness to business centers in Chicago. The area of the township is about ten square miles. The lands in Lake View attracted early attention. The settlement dates back over a period of twenty years, and many of the lots having, during this long stretch of years, been subjected to constant improvement, the place bears something of the appearance of the older suburbs about the cities in the East. Viewed from the observatory of the new United States Marine Hospital, the whole village resembles a beautiful park."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Sep 28 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 The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea, our March 2007 book club selection. In this passage the old healer, Huila, is trying to teach Teresita how to pray one morning:

"Should we have brought God coffee?" Teresita asked.

This caught Huila up short. Did God take coffee? And if He did, would He want it black, or did He enjoy milk and sugar — all items He, in His own wisdom, had made in the first place? It was obvious God enjoyed wine — only red wine — but coffee, that was altogether a mystery.

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Sep 21 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 Chicago: City on the Make by Nelson Algren:

"Chicago...forever keeps two faces, one for winners and one for losers; one for hustlers and one for squares. One for the open-eyed children of the thousand-windowed office buildings. And one for the shuttered hours. One for the sun-lit traffic's noontime bustle. And one for the midnight subway watches when stations swing past like ferris wheels of light, yet leave the moving window wet with rain or tears. One face for Go-Getters and one for Go-Get-It-Yourselfers. One for poets and one for promoters. One for the good boy and one for the bad."

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Sep 14 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 Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, "Happiness" entry, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, our June 2006 Book Club selection:

"I'm turning left. Look, everyone, my blinker is on, and I'm turning left. I am so happy to be alive, driving along, making a left turn. I'm serious. I am doing exactly what I want to be doing at this moment: existing on a Tuesday, going about my business, on my way somewhere, turning left."

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

Quotable Fri Aug 31 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 Memory Mambo by Achy Obejas, our April 2006 book club selection:

"Although no one would admit it, Tio Pepe's passing seemed to free Tia Celia. She foundered a bit at first. For instance, she said she wanted to re-decorate the house but didn't know how, then felt guilty and worried that people might think she was trying to erase Tio Pepe from her life. Eventually, she bought new curtains and painted the bedroom an off-white that showed off the new pictures of Rosa on the wall and on her bureau. Tia Celia hadn't had citrus fruit for more than thirty years because Tio Pepe was horrifically allergic to them and now, without him to worry about, she gorged on oranges and pineapples, grapefruits and mangoes. When she served water at her house, lemon slices floated with the ice."

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

Quotable Fri Aug 17 2007

Quotable Friday

"Then the party became aware of another strange thing. This, too, like the odour, was a thing elemental; it was a sound — a sound made up of ten thousand little sounds. You scarcely noticed it at first — it sunk into your consciousness, a vague disturbance, a trouble. It was like the murmuring of the bees in the spring, the whisperings of the forest; it suggested a world in motion. It was only by an effort that one could realize that it was made by animals, that it was the distant lowing of ten thousand cattle, the distant grunting of ten thousand swine."

Upton Sinclair writes about life near the Chicago stockyards in The Jungle, our May 2005 Book Club selection.

Alice Maggio

Quotable Fri Aug 10 2007

Quotable Friday

"Thinking this, he wondered if Mozart had had any intuition that the future did not exist, that he had already used up his little time. Maybe I have, too, Rick though has he watched the rehearsal move along. This rehearsal will end, the performance will end, the singers will die, eventually the last score of the music will be destroyed in one way or another; finally the name 'Mozart' will vanish, the dust will have won. If not on this planet then another."

Protagonist Rick Deckhard thinks about entrophy in this passage from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, our June 2007 Book Club selection.

Alice Maggio

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