There Are No Myths: A Close-up on a Film Noir Icon in “The Lives of Robert Ryan”

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Ryan in "Odds Against Tomorrow" (1959)/Photo: Franklin Jarlett Collection

Ryan in “Odds Against Tomorrow” (1959)/Photo: Franklin Jarlett Collection

By Hugh Iglarsh

“Lives” indeed. It’s a fitting title for a biography of actor Robert Ryan, who lived on multiple planes, which he did his best to keep widely separated. In his richer roles, Ryan came off as conflicted and complex, his laconic exterior hinting at a volcanic and barely contained inner force. This divided quality made him the male face of film noir, the postwar cinematic mode that was all about ambivalence and moral gray areas, as Hollywood for one brief moment stopped kidding around and confronted the imperfections and contradictions of human nature and American society head on. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiction Review: “Almost Crimson” by Dasha Kelly

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RECOMMENDEDalmost crimson

“Almost Crimson,” the newest novel by Def Poetry Jam alum Dasha Kelly, traces the life of Ce-Ce, short for Crimson Celeste, a bright and capable black woman born to an out-of-frame father and a mother with crippling depression so severe that Ce-Ce assumes the role of adult as early as age five. Ce-Ce’s childhood is the sort where she has to dodge the questions of prying social workers and manage the bills her mother neglects. Read the rest of this entry »

Asking No One’s Permission: Jessica Hopper Discusses Her New Collection of Essays on Rock and Radical Feminism

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JESSICA HOPPER_2_photo by david sampson

Jessica Hopper / Photo: David Sampson

By Liz Baudler

Jessica Hopper’s byline connotes two things: vivid, confrontational description, and criticism with an unabashedly feminist and social conscience. “The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic” raucously celebrates Hopper’s multidecade career, blaring its politics with the seminal piece “Emo: Where The Girls Aren’t” and veering through rap and rock and girls and boys with joyful and incisive abandon. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Racist: The Cautionary Tale of “Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead”

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Romantic-Violence-Large-RGBOne evening last month, I listened to a former white supremacist warning that America’s biggest terrorist threat came from home-grown hatemongers. He and his audience at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square had no idea that at that hour in Charleston, a white gunman was ending the lives of nine worshippers in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Read the rest of this entry »

News: The Thirty-First Annual Newberry Book Sale Boasts 120,000 Titles

Lit Events No Comments »

July 27, 2013

Midsummer is a special time in Chicago. Each weekend seems to host another festival, another fair, taste, or block party. But for all of the book lovers in this city, The Newberry Book Fair is surely one of the most anticipated. This year marks the thirty-first year of the four-day book fair. Read the rest of this entry »

News: The Guild Literary Complex Celebrates Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award’s Twenty-Second Year

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gwendolyn-brooks-1

Gwendolyn Brooks

Earlier this week, the Guild Literary Complex announced the semi-finalists for their twenty-second Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award, an accolade that Brooks started twenty-two years ago to celebrate poets from all over Illinois. During an open call for submissions in June, the Guild received 120 poems from writers from across sixty-six zip codes, competing for the $600 prize. Twenty out of the original pool have made it to the final round, which will be held on July 22 at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at 7pm. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking at Longing: Chicago Poet Sandra Marchetti Debuts with “Confluence”

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S. Marchetti

Sandra Marchetti/Photo: Scott Semple

Sandra Marchetti’s debut collection of poems, “Confluence,” is an intimate and carefully wrought look at longing and the relationship between person and place. In the opening poem, “Never-Ending Birds,” Marchetti establishes some of the themes that will reoccur throughout her collection. In this poem the divide between the narrator and the birds she observes is blurred: “I plume to watch, freshed in the ground;/ they ring the trees as their own/ sweet planets” and “… The swallows so close, beat; I let them scrim/my stance, twist neatly solar./ I swallow, lift my chest where the freckles/ crack, where wet wings gleam.” Read the rest of this entry »

Nonfiction Review: “Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science” by Alice Dreger

Book Reviews, Chicago Authors, Nonfiction No Comments »

galileo coverRECOMMENDED

“Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science” is a strange mix of disheartening, enraging and uplifting. It’s the subject matter—scientific controversy—not Northwestern professor and medical historian Alice Dreger’s writing style, which reads like a good lecture.

For readers who want science to arbitrate fairly where humans fall short, it’s enlightening yet perhaps not shocking to see that a fucked-up moral algorithm of politically correct narrative and personal grudges can dictate inquiry into medical procedure.

Dreger deftly balances human stories with anecdotes of actual scientific harm being perpetrated by activists and journalists silencing those with less-than-ideal but scientifically sound theses. She beats a roughly chronological path, starting with her involvement in the intersex movement, then detouring into elaborate research projects in which she defends sexologist J. Michael Bailey and Napoleon Chagnon, and concludes with a relatively unstudied medical treatment prescribed to pregnant mothers. Read the rest of this entry »

Poetry Review: “Traces of Time” by Lucio Mariani

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traces of timeRECOMMENDED

Lucio Mariani is an Italian poet who lives in Rome. Born in 1936, his first volume of poetry “Indagine di possibilità” was launched in 1972. He has published eleven more poetry books since then, and has gained recognition as a translator and essayist. “Traces of Time,” translated into English by Anthony Molino, is a survey that covers the entirety of Mariani’s work specifically drawn from a collection titled “Farfalla e segno: Poesie scelte 1972-2009” (Crocetti 2010).

Only about three percent of all books published in the US are works in translation. Sadly, only about point seven percent of those translations are fiction and poetry. That an English-speaking audience has access to Mariani’s work, thanks to Open Letter Books, is cause for celebration in itself. Read the rest of this entry »

Big-Hearted and Bawdy: Tony Fitzpatrick’s “Dime Stories” Speaks Truth to Power

Anthologies, Art Books, Book Reviews, Chicago Authors, Essays No Comments »
TONY FITZPATRICK

Tony Fitzpatrick/Photo: Paul Elledge

By Amy Friedman

“Whatever you do in this life, make sure you’re the only one who can do it,” Tony Fitzpatrick’s father advised him in the third grade, and hell if he didn’t listen. Artist, author and actor are but a few of his titles, and there’s no doubt that no one can do what Tony does.

“Dime Stories,” the soon-to-be-released foul-mouthed, straight-talk collection of Fitzpatrick’s Newcity columns speaks truth to power, and we’d be wise to heed its warnings and take its advice. Fitzpatrick rails against waste, criticizes the sellout of our political institutions to big money, laments the proliferation of mass shootings and parses various other elements that lead to injustice. These essays examine with sharp focus and acerbic wit our true nature and that of our changing city, rife with new dangers and old problems. Read the rest of this entry »