Diving Deep: Re’Lynn Hansen Discusses “To Some Women I Have Known”

Chicago Authors, Memoir, Nonfiction No Comments »

By Toni NealieHansenPhoto

In her memoir of prose poems and essays, Re’Lynn Hansen captures what she calls the “prismatic moment,” the color burst, the distilled essence of past. It’s sweet-sharp. Beauty, loss and humor sidle out from memories—a horse “gone like a ghost train, all light and muscle flying past,” a severed toe in a white handkerchief set in a drawer, an old guy in a nursing home who insists on putting his shoe on his lunch plate. Looking at adolescence, Hansen threads ideas of “becoming” and being “more,” over a catalog of recollection and longing. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Lee Sandlin Way—Late Chicago Author Remembered With Honorary Street Sign

Chicago Authors, News Etc. No Comments »
nina sandlin and three neighbor kids

Nina Sandlin and three neighbor children unveil the sign/Photo: Daniel O’Neil

As of Saturday, a brown street sign at the corner of North Artesian and West Wilson Avenues in Ravenswood Gardens celebrates the memory of the block’s former resident: Chicago author Lee Sandlin. Read the rest of this entry »

Transformation Through Narrative Structures: Book and Paper Artist Teresa Pankratz Talks Storytelling and Inspiration

Author Profiles, Chicago Authors No Comments »

Teresa Pankratz/Photo: Bryan Saner

Chicago 1986: Teresa Pankratz and her husband are out on the town, familiarizing themselves with their new neighborhood on the North Side shortly after moving to a new apartment. Artistically, nothing was calling out to Pankratz at the time. But then they happened upon a quaint little shop with a captivating display called Artists’ Book Works. The exhibit was so exquisite that she was immediately drawn in. There, Teresa says, she was “mesmerized by an assortment of beautifully constructed book-like objects: exotic, humorous, intriguing, absorbing.”

Since that fateful night in 1986, Pankratz has been creating small-editioned narrative sculptures and artists’ books specifically to explore the relationship between humans and familiar, domestic objects and sheltering spaces. The term “artists’ books” seems elusive but essentially refers to publications as artworks, books as a medium. Pankratz’s narrative sculptures can be seen as artists’ books as well, the key difference being she incorporates found objects within them, such as the objects in her 2007-08 piece, “The Lost/Found Portrait of Marissa Vorobia.” This work includes a handmade paper record sleeve, shoebox liner and constructed shoebox with a digitally printed lid among other objects. Read the rest of this entry »

Nonfiction Review: “The Little Magazine in Contemporary America” edited by Ian Morris and Joanne Diaz

Anthologies, Chicago Authors, Chicago Publishers No Comments »

little magazineRECOMMENDED

Starting a little magazine is like embarking on parenthood: Its founders begin with a vision, with no idea as to what it truly takes to raise their baby to adulthood, day by day. These projects are often birthed in basements, borrowed apartments and coffee shops, on shoestring budgets scraped together through small loans, donations or academic largess that these days could not feel smaller. Their goal is to make public exceptional new work by established and emerging writers. What results, in some cases, is nothing short of spectacular. In “The Little Magazine in Contemporary America” edited by Ian Morris and Joanne Diaz, twenty-three editors of influential little magazines, many still in circulation and others that have run their course, reveal the hardships and gifts inherent in creating and producing these journals. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiction Review: “Resonance” by Erica O’Rourke

Chicago Authors, Young Adult No Comments »


“Resonance” is an action-packed and emotional follow-up to Erica O’Rourke’s 2014 young adult novel, “Dissonance.” In this sequel (still set in a version of the Chicago area) we see main character Delancey Sullivan as she attempts to find her love, young Simon, as well as navigate between the Consort (for whom her parents work) and the Free Walkers (a fringe group whose goal is to expose the lies the Consort has been spinning).

As “Dissonance” established, Del is a Walker and therefore able to move through the seemingly endless number of parallel worlds. “Resonance” explores this idea even further and investigates the mechanics of what happens when Walkers leave Echoes (Echoes are versions of people from the Key, or original, world that exist in the parallel worlds) and spoiler alert: the outcome isn’t good. With its focus on the technicalities involved in Walking, “Resonance” can, at times, become bogged down in world jargon. However, this is balanced against other, emotionally grounding aspects of the book, namely Del’s evolving relationship with her grandfather Monty, her parents, and the boy she loves, Simon. Read the rest of this entry »

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

Chicago Authors No Comments »
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

Chicago Authors No Comments »

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

Chicago Authors, Essays No Comments »
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 »

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

Chicago Authors, Poetry No Comments »
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 »