Fiction Review: “Brush Back” by Sara Paretsky

Book Reviews, Fiction, Mystery No Comments »


If you like your crime fiction set in Chicago with a female detective who breaks jaws and breaks conventions, read “Brush Back,” the seventeenth novel in Sara Paretsky’s Warshawski series. Since the first novel in the series, the portrayal of the characters, cityscape and sociopolitical setting has grown richer as Paretsky hones her powers; she has had more than thirty years to develop the characters of Vic Warshawski and her network of friends, to portray Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods as well as the class and political influences that make Chicago a great city in which the detective can exercise her sense of justice. Read the rest of this entry »

News: All About the Business—The Fourth Annual Chicago Writers’ Conference

Lit Events No Comments »

Photo: Elliot Mandel Photo

In 2011, Mare Swallow created the Chicago Writers’ Conference after she noticed a lack of opportunity in Chicago for writers to rub shoulders with editors, agents, publishers and other literary professionals. Now in its fourth year, the growth and success of the CWC is a testament to the unique and vibrant Chicago literary scene. Read the rest of this entry »

South Side Experiences: Nate Marshall’s “Wild Hundreds” Poems Tackle Young Life in the City

Chicago Authors, Poetry No Comments »
nate marshall - Xavier Ramey

Nate Marshall/Photo: Xavier Ramey

Fans of the 2010 documentary “Louder Than A Bomb” will remember Nate Marshall as the then-teen whose performance closed out the film. I say “will remember” because his performance is unforgettable. In the seven years since the movie was filmed, Marshall received a BA from Vanderbilt University, an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan (where he was also a Zell Postgraduate Fellow), and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Wabash College. And now he’s publishing his first collection of poetry, “Wild Hundreds.” Read the rest of this entry »

Fiction Review: “Marvel and A Wonder” by Joe Meno

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RECOMMENDEDmarvel and a wonder

“Marvel and A Wonder’—Joe Meno’s latest novel—is an emotionally honest exploration of the human need for connection.

The story centers on widower and Korean War vet, Jim Falls, and his biracial sixteen-year-old grandson, Quentin, who work side by side on a small chicken farm, but could not be more disconnected. Jim can’t seem to see anything of himself—physically or otherwise—in Quentin, who insulates himself with his Walkman. Set on the cusp of the millennium, they’re struggling to keep afloat in the blighted town of Mount Holly, where it’s easier to find fireworks and guns—no permit required—than a job, or any semblance of hope. Read the rest of this entry »

News: At It Again—Elizabeth Taylor and Adam Cohen Reunite to Launch The National Book Review

Chicago Authors, Chicago Publishers, Digital Publishing, News Etc. No Comments »

national book review

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 »

News: Amping it Up—Columbia College Announces Big Changes in Creative Writing Department

News Etc. No Comments »
Tony Trigilio, Jenny Boully, Matthew Shenoda, Aleksander Hemon, Nami Mun, Joe Meno and Sam Weller

Tony Trigilio, Jenny Boully, Matthew Shenoda, Aleksandar Hemon, Nami Mun, Joe Meno and Sam Weller/Photo: Philip Dembinski

In 2014, Publishers Weekly magazine took notice of some major changes occurring at Columbia College Chicago and called the school’s department of creative writing “one to watch,” predicting that the MFA program was on the cusp of big, bold things. Read the rest of this entry »

Fall Lit Preview 2015

Book Reviews 2 Comments »

By Christine Sneed


Lauren Groff, “Fates and Furies” (novel, 9/15)
Groff’s new novel about a foundering marriage has received, not surprisingly, a lot of ecstatic buzz. She is so talented that reading her work is alternately a thrilling and an I-will-never-be-this-good-of-a-writer experience. Behold her dazzling sentences, understanding of the human heart, and her imaginative leaps into the real and the fantastical.
fall preview - fear of dying
Erica Jong, “Fear of Dying” (novel, 9/8)
More than forty years after Jong wowed and scandalized readers alike with her sexually frank (and fearless) novel “Fear of Flying,” Jong is back with another adventurous heroine, Vanessa Wonderman (a close friend of Isadora Wing), who isn’t interested in disappearing into senescence without a…ahem, bang.

Jenny Lawson, “Furiously Happy” (nonfiction, 9/22)
In this memoir, Lawson explores her longtime struggles with mental illness. As her publisher phrases it, “A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.” I’m in. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Poetry Review: “Small Consolations” by Gary Glauber

Book Reviews, Poetry No Comments »

RECOMMENDEDsmall consolations by gary glauber

Gary Glauber’s poetry collection “Small Consolations” may, at first blush, seem a bit tame when compared to recent collections that have set the world of poetry agog. In a twelve-month span that welcomed such offerings as Claudia Rankine’s genre-defying poetry collection “Citizen,” the fluid memory poems of Saeed Jones’ “Prelude to Bruise,” and the haunting untamed animalism of Simone Muench’s “Wolf Centos,” Glauber’s assiduously crafted poems evince a wistful, guarded sensibility.
Like a bare-chested, clean-skinned preppy moshing at Lollapalooza among the sweat-glazed crush of tattooed punks and skinheads who buck every rule, “Small Consolations” harbors great lust, longing and energy, yet it knows that boundaries do not always impede creativity; they often inspire it. Read the rest of this entry »

Keepin’ It Loose: A Storytelling Series Giving Voice to a Diversity of Female Writers

Readings No Comments »
Loose Chicks 1

Roberta Miles and Jillian Erickson/Photo: Cecilia Ras

Disclaimer: I have read for Loose Chicks. So have some of my friends and associates. This is not why I would tell someone to see Loose Chicks. I would tell women writers to see Loose Chicks for an evening of intimate and artifice-free reading by a diversity of female storytellers from around Chicago. Because quite frankly, I have had it with fiction that is boring and bro-ish, and I want to hear about real life—all the better if a woman gets the mic. Read the rest of this entry »