Part of what makes Chicago an amazing city is how many people have come here to get a new handle on their lives. I truly do think that what makes you a Chicagoan is not whether you were born here or how long you lived here, but how alive you feel about being here.
That said, I also truly do think that being an expat gets incredibly annoying come the holiday season. Seriously, you’ve got two family holidays a month apart. One of them you’re expected to spend time with your family, the other you’re expected to spend money. So after you’ve already made one trek to sit around and play the game of pretending Facebook doesn’t exist and asking each other “So how have you been?” you have to make another one a month later.
With freight. Read the rest of this entry »
Finishing the Lit 50 is always such a bittersweet ending for me. What starts out as such a pleasure of discovery—Chicago’s literary world now has more than 200 published writers!—ends in the sorrow of having to leave so many worthy names off the list. We do our best to reflect the sum of our knowledge and reporting, to add in diversity of style, medium and genre, and to constantly introduce new players to the mix. But we know that, in the end, many choices might appear capricious, that for every worthy individual honored, two have been overlooked. A day later, after the lingering effects of sleep, sunlight and exercise deprivation and an overdose of junk food and energy drinks abates, I know we’ll return to where we started: overjoyed at the growing literary abundance of our city.
Careful readers will remember that we alternate lists each year, between the behind-the-scenes influencers and the on-the-page creators; this year belongs to the latter. Which is why you won’t see represented the two most talked-about new endeavors in literary Chicago: J.C. Gabel’s magnificent revival of The Chicagoan, and Elizabeth Taylor’s noble undertaking, Printers Row. We are confidently hopeful, or perhaps hopefully confident, that they’ll still be around to have their day a year from now. (Brian Hieggelke)
Lit 50 was written by Greg Baldino, Ella Christoph, Brian Hieggelke, Naomi Huffman and Micah McCrary. See previous years here.
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Every father/son relationship has its turning point, when the boy becomes a man, but not every son can say that turning point was when his hand got chopped off by his dad and then things got better. Except in the Star Wars sextology, which at its heart—beneath all the outerspace battles and cosmic samurai hijinks—is about a man reconciling with the adult son he never knew he had.
At least that’s the germ of the idea behind Jeffrey Brown’s “Darth Vader and Son,” a collection of one-panel gag cartoons imagining the Dark Lord of the Sith raising young Luke as a single father. Read the rest of this entry »
Illustration: Pamela Wishbow
A strange and unpleasant wind blows through the literary land. Our obsession with technocultural toys, whether iPhones, iPads or Kindles, makes the foundation of thought almost since thought was recorded, that is ink on paper, seem increasingly destined to be twittered into obsolescence. And it’s not just mere media frenzy, either. Massive upheaval among major publishers these last few years has left some of Chicago’s finest writers stranded in a strange land: that is, the work is finished, but no one is around to put it out. Who knows, maybe in two years when this version of Lit 50 returns, some, if not all, of our authors will be publishing mostly, if not entirely, in the digital realm. If that’s the case, let’s enjoy an old-fashioned book or two while we can. Read the rest of this entry »
Zines, often relegated to a tiny shelf in most bookstores like a footnote or a last-second addendum, are taking center stage this weekend as four Chicagoans put on the first ever Chicago Zine Fest. “We went to the Milwaukee Zine Fest and were surprised by how many Chicago people went up for that,” says co-organizer Matt Czerwinski. “It planted the idea to have one in Chicago.” The fest will kick off this Friday with a reading at Quimby’s which features “King Cat” author John Porcellino along with Anne Elizabeth Moore, Jeffery Brown and five zinesters who were selected by random lottery. There will also be a zine-related art opening at Johalla Projects Friday night, which will conclude with a screening of the Gadabout Traveling Film Festival. Friday’s events, aside from entertaining, attempt to start a dialogue between zinesters and the public. “We tried to figure out a way to get people talking to each other and get zinesters meeting each other. That’s a drawback of zine fests that we saw,” says Czerwinksi. “A lot of times you don’t meet anyone, but that’s why these events exist.” More info can be found at chicagozinefest.org. (Peter Cavanaugh)
Chicago’s book world can be a quiet place. In part due to the solitary nature of the work, and in part due to the void of publishing parties that keep New York’s assorted gawkers journaling away, it’s easy to think nothing new is happening. Jeffrey Eugenides moves to town, Jeffrey Eugenides moves away, and no one seems to notice. Then, bam!, Aleksandar Hemon publishes “The Lazarus Project,” the comparisons to Nabokov resume and suddenly we’re the center of the universe again, if only for a moment.
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