News: Reading the “Hot Stuff”: Prominent Chicago Authors Discuss Sex and Literature at “Beyond Lolita”

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beyond lolita
According to Pulitzer Prize finalist Luis Alberto Urrea, it’s not just the subject of writing that’s sexy, but also the sensual experience of reading itself. “Literature is an erotic experience in a lot of ways,” Urrea says, “no matter who or what you read. Just think, our work goes to bed with you at night, bathes with you, is held close to your heart. You warm the pages with your breath, it’s a very personal thing.” Read the rest of this entry »

From the Other Side of the Glass: An Interview with “The Voiceover Artist” Author Dave Reidy

Chicago Authors, Chicago Publishers 1 Comment »

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 »

On the Beat: Renée Rosen Crafts a 1950s Chicago Journalism Tale with “White Collar Girl”

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Renee Rosen, author, Dollface

Renee Rosen/Photo: Charles Osgood

By Liz Baudler

Renée Rosen made a national name for herself by spinning tales of Chicago, from gangsters to the Gilded Age. Her latest book, “White Collar Girl,” finds Tribune reporter Jordan Walsh in a 1950s newsroom, railing against her “sob sister” billing and making a bid to become an ace female investigative reporter. Rosen spoke with Newcity about what she learned while writing “White Collar Girl,” and why she’ll always write about Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiction Review: “Grant Park” by Leonard Pitts, Jr.

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“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 »

Necessarily a Mother-Daughter Conflict: Bonnie Jo Campbell Discusses “Mothers, Tell Your Daughters”

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Bonnie Jo Campbell BW Headshot

Bonnie Jo Campbell/Photo: John Campbell

By Brendan Buck

Bonnie Jo Campbell, a Michigander by birth, is a short story writer and novelist known for her grit and talent, not all of it in the field of writing; she’s also a mathematician. Her last story collection, the National Book Award nominated “American Salvage,” showcased the scrappy, hard-fought lives of those in the rural Midwest. And her much anticipated new collection of short stories, “Mothers, Tell Your Daughters” likewise features tough Midwesterners, but this time she focuses her gaze on a selection of determined but frequently compromised women navigating a sexualized world filled with men who seek to exploit, abuse and abandon them. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Evanston Public Library Hosts First Annual Storytelling Festival

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Evanston storytelling festival - (Emily Hooper Lansana (R) Zahra Baker (L)

Zahra Baker and Emily Hooper Lansana

On October 9-11, the Evanston Public Library will host its first annual Storytelling Festival, featuring a wide array of free events, including storytelling for all ages, panels, workshops, and spoken-word poetry, held at the library, the Celtic Knot Public House, the Woman’s Club of Evanston, and an outdoor family tent. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiction Review: “Freeman’s: The Best New Writing on Arrival” edited by John Freeman

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freeman's arrivalRECOMMENDED

Arrival is a verb denoting the attainment of a goal at a journey’s end. However, as John Freeman’s infinitely relatable and beautifully crafted prose and poetry anthology “Freeman’s: The Best New Writing on Arrival” demonstrates, the word arrival is more indicative of a discovery than a destination. The work Freeman presents transports us to events, life milestones and new understandings that serve as springboards for further journeys.

Freeman has assembled a thoughtful and profoundly accessible collection of work that connects our vulnerabilities, our expectations and our hopes. According to Freeman, the very act of reading can be seen as an arrival: “Every time I read, I look to recreate the feeling of arriving that day,” Freeman tells us. “Stories and essays, even the right kind of poem, will take us somewhere else, put us down somewhere new.” It is from this somewhere new that the conversation takes root and the potential for new arrivals blooms. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiction Review: “See You in the Morning” by Mairead Case

Chicago Authors, Chicago Publishers, Debut Novel or Collection 1 Comment »

see you in the morningRECOMMENDED

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 »

Poetry Reviews: “Hazel and the Mirror” and “The Endless Unbegun” by Rachel Jamison Webster

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hazel & the mirrorRECOMMENDED

Tenderness and pain echo through generations of women in Rachel Jamison Webster’s haunting new chapbook “Hazel and the Mirror.” Each character struggles with leaving some facet of her life, whether the womb, her marriage, or her native land. As time shifts and voices intertwine, we confront troubling questions inimical to the human psyche: How does abandonment shift what is possible in our lives? Is trauma inherited? And what is released or contained in the undoing of a person?

Throughout “Hazel,” trauma reflects and projects through the mirror of time and history, revealing the void intrinsic to uninhabited lives. The struggle in motherhood to retain or to discover an identity separate and apart from a needy child casts a long shadow. Competing identities both repel and attract, as “the punishment of silence, the pummel of distance” obscure and injure the ties that bind. Read the rest of this entry »

News: The Chicago Public Library Selects its One Book, One Chicago Title and Hosts Banned Books Week

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ThomasDyjaPhotoCreditBill Guerriero

Thomas Dyja/Photo: Bill Guerriero

“The Third Coast” by Thomas Dyja is the One Book, One Chicago selection for this fall and the twenty-sixth book the program has selected since its inception in the fall of 2001. For those unfamiliar, OBOC is a Chicago Public Library Program that aims to unite the city via the shared experience of reading the same book. Each book is selected along with a corresponding theme, which is then explored through various free programming.

As Jennifer Lizak, Coordinator of Special Projects with The Chicago Public Library explains, this year’s theme, “Chicago: The City That Gives,” “was a natural fit not only for the book [but] also for a season-long exploration.” She also notes that this year the CPL collaborated with their partners at the Chicago Community Trust in choosing a book and theme so that it would also reflect the Chicago Community Trust’s centennial celebration.

Lizak also shares why she believes the program is so compelling for so many Chicagoans: “I think people are attracted to the One Book, One Chicago program because it is a shared experience that we don’t often get to have once we are adults. Even if you do not attend a book-discussion group, there’s something neat about knowing you’re reading a book at the same time that thousands of other Chicagoans are also reading it.” That notion of community is reflected in the fact that this year, for the first time ever, every single library in the CPL system will be hosting a One Book-related event. Read the rest of this entry »