“City Creatures,” edited by Gavin Van Horn and David Aftandilian, is an outstanding compilation of essays, poetry, photographs and art that describes the Chicago area’s ecosystem, encouraging us to take a closer look at our environment. After finishing this book, among the questions one asks is how can we take better, more proactive care of the natural world that’s intertwined throughout our urban infrastructure and how can we enjoy that world more fully? Read the rest of this entry »
David Reidy/Photo: Michael Courier
By Zhanna Slor
I’ve never thought much about voiceover. Then, a few months ago, I saw Lake Bell’s movie “In a World,” and was quite impressed with it. And even more recently, I happened upon Dave Reidy’s forthcoming novel, “The Voiceover Artist,” a story about a boy with a stutter who dreams about doing voiceover work for commercials. Suddenly I found myself quite drawn into this uncommon world, and wondering about what attracts a person to voiceover narration. So I asked Dave Reidy about it. Read the rest of this entry »
“Grant Park,” the third novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. centers around Malcolm Toussaint, a black newspaper columnist who has consciously decided to torpedo his career by sneaking a vehement screed into the newspaper on the day of the 2008 presidential election, announcing his exasperation with white America. Read the rest of this entry »
Mairead Case’s debut novel, “See You in the Morning” is a moving and tenderhearted portrait of a teenager in the summer before her senior year of high school. The girl is acutely aware that this summer will mark the end to the way things have been: “This summer is the last one nobody really cares about. I keep wishing I could hold it, hold on to not having to make anything up so people will like me, hire me, kiss me, or whatever.” But of course the summer rushes on and she, along with her two friends, John and Rosie, find themselves growing in different ways.
The narrator spends her days working at the local big box bookstore, going to punk shows with her friends, hanging out with her eccentric neighbor Mr. Green, and attending church with her mother. She also spends much of her time ruminating on her feelings for her friend John, believing she may be in love with him. Read the rest of this entry »
“The year of the woman,” 1992, was a time of idealism and anger brought to the fore after the 1991 Senate confirmation of Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. A Judiciary Committee of white men concluded that Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment against Thomas were insignificant. Illinois democrats and progressive women were infuriated that Democratic Senator Alan J. Dixon had voted for Thomas’ confirmation. Carol Moseley Braun decided to challenge Dixon, and the account of her 1992 campaign as described by Jeannie Morris in “Behind the Smile” is riveting.
University of Chicago Law graduate, Cook County Recorder of Deeds at the time of her campaign, divorced, a single mother and a feminist fighting to be taken seriously in a man’s world, Braun represented the challenges women of all backgrounds face. EMILY’S List provided her with the first significant campaign donation. A good beginning, except that menacing clouds were forming in the shape of Braun’s campaign manager and eventual boyfriend, Kgosie Matthews. While controversies arose during Braun’s campaign, allegations of sexual harassment against Matthews sent to Braun in an anonymous letter could have ruined her; sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas had brought Braun into the limelight to begin with. Read the rest of this entry »
Fifteen years ago, Elizabeth Taylor and Adam Cohen collaborated to bring us “American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation.” The duo, each widely accomplished in their own right have reunited with the creation of the website, The National Book Review. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Naomi Huffman with author Brian Costello
Independent publishing press Curbside Splendor recently announced a substantial shift in roles after a successful year in 2014 in which they published more than twelve books compared to their average of about three the years prior. Founder and publisher Victor Giron attributes that incredible leap to the diligence of Naomi Huffman, who has been promoted from managing editor to Curbside’s new editor in chief. The change in responsibilities also includes Catherine Eves as the new managing editor, Jacob Knabb as senior editor, business development and Ben Tanzer as senior editor, acquisitions. Read the rest of this entry »
Breakup stories, as a genre, have become as clichéd and overdone as their inverse, love stories. Dear John/Jane letters, lipstick-smudged collars, and clothes piled up and doused with bleach have become the tell-tale signs of love affairs that have run their course. Yet writers with sagacity and wit can sidestep such been-there, done-that tropes and elevate the breakup story to new levels. In Michael Czyzniejewski’s short-fiction collection “I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories,” readers zigzag through the demise of one relationship after another, some of them long-term romances, others missed connections that crash and burn even before they begin.
Tragicomic incidents involving public masturbation, a lethal peanut butter sandwich, apocalyptic plagues, and Meryl Streep’s breasts open gateways into the pathos that calls out for recognition when a relationship, regardless of its depth or duration, hurdles toward dissolution. Czyzniejewski exhibits an enviable knack for black humor, combining the scathingly urbane with the wickedly boorish, all through a lens that shifts kaleidoscopically from naturalism to postmodernism to magic realism and beyond. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: John Sturdy
By Brendan Buck
Brian Costello, a Florida native and Chicago immigrant, is a comedic performer, musician and writer. He currently hosts the monthly game show “Shame that Tune” at the Hideout and drums in the band Outer Minds, but he’s also a two-time novelist. His first, “The Enchanters vs. Sprawlburg Springs,” was released by Featherproof Books in 2005, while his second, “Losing in Gainesville,” was just released by Curbside Splendor. I recently caught up with Costello over email about his new book.
One of the first things that strikes me about your novel is its conversational and lyrical style, similar to the writings of William Faulkner and Robert Penn Warren, the latter’s work having a direct reference in the book. Were these writers a conscious influence on your writing? Who are your influences?
Not really. I like them both, and learned a lot from “All the King’s Men,” but overall, with structure, I was influenced by double LPs like “Exile on Main Street” by the Rolling Stones, “Trout Mask Replica” by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, and “Double Nickels on the Dime” by the Minutemen. I love double albums, and how each side can create a different mood. Side Two of “Exile on Main Street” comes to mind, for instance. With “Losing in Gainesville,” I wanted to write a “triple album,” where each part/side has a different mood to it. Within the actual writing, the influences could be everything from Herman Melville to the movie “Dazed and Confused,” rock critics like Lester Bangs and Richard Meltzer, the TV show “The Wire,” and various writers directly referenced in the novel itself. Read the rest of this entry »