Traveling through Chicago on word trains

By Caryl Clem:

As a young reader I was told I could get a ticket at the library called a “book” and travel anywhere my heart desired.  In my mind, stories were word trains that traveled through life. Famous Carl Sandburg in his poem Chicago with the lines “building, breaking, and rebuilding” and “Laughter of Youth” imparts the feeling of a brazen, lovable, sometimes wicked child fighting limitations.  Pushing  its’ way into the future, Chicago’s unique appeal has inspired over 50 talented Chicago born authors take us into their lives to experience their hopes, dreams and trials. I have selected just a few to encourage you to explore Chicago through their perspective.

Ethnic diversity remains strength of Chicago. Exploring the Mexican American experiences, Pulitzer Prize winning author, and Luis Alberto Urrea’s new release covers the life a dying family patriarch tells us about the Mexican-American culture as adapts to each generation in the family.  His life a poignant exploration of the emotions that shape our decisions and lives.  He wrote “The Devil’s Highway”, “The Hummingbird’s Daughter,”  “Into the Beautiful North”, “Queen of America”, and story collection “The Water Museum”. He is a professor at the University of Chicago.

The House of Broken Angels   
by Luis Alberto Urrea
Little, Brown and Company, March 6

The desire to fit in, to feel successful is a constant challenge in many Chicago neighborhoods. In 1959, the play about a young financially secure young black family buying property in a white neighborhood, Raisin In the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry describes racial tensions evident today.  Current issues involving neighborhood conflicts are in plays written by Ike Holter. His award winning 2012 play “Hit The Wall”, 2014 public school issues in “ Exit Strategy”,  2016 “ Sender” and the series about Chicago police, “ Six Corners” in 2017.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Glengarry Glen Ross.”, David Mamet who wrote the screen version for “Untouchables” pens a colorful, dramatic 1920’s tale when Chicago was controlled by the mob. The strict code of obedience and the danger of knowing too much determined lives and fortunes.

by David Mamet
Custom House, February 7

The food industry has grown and expanded since the fast food spurt in the 1960’s Emily Belden lives and works in Chicago as a food journalist. Her quick wit and down to earth writing style make you feel like you are there listening to her. The challenge a life changing career decision plus the disappearance of a trusted partner makes this a suspenseful page turner.  Set in Chicago, the personality of the city influences the characters.

Hot Mess
by Emily Belden
Graydon House, March 20

   .    November 1st was Author Day. Take a word train through their writings. Chicago remains a patchwork quilt of neighborhoods whose streets are like black stiches tying the various patterns together. A sample of current Chicago authors is presented in a great article of Chicago Review of Books.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s