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Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Blog

Chicago (Love) Classics

Monday, February 1, 2021

By Donald G. Evans

Chicago (Love) Classics
Saturday, Feb. 13
7-8 p.m.
Free and Open to the Public
Advanced Registration Required

Valentine’s Day isn’t for everybody, and, now, thanks to our ongoing health pandemic, it’s not really for anybody. There will be no fancy restaurants, no romantic getaways, no parties, no a lot of stuff. 

Chicago, anyway, with its reputation as a tough, grind-it-out city, with its Italian beef and deep dish pizza, with its steel-girdered el tracks and towering skyscrapers, doesn’t seem like the mushy type. But us Chicagoans know that our city is not of any one type. Inside the hard grid of our city streets, there lives plenty of everything. Hearts that bleed in many ways. 

Grit gets the literary headlines, as well, the works of social realism topping most lists of Chicago’s finest. Algren’s City on the Make and Sandburg’s Chicago Poems and Wright’s A Native Son: these, great books all, too often get confused as typical. Again, Chicago defies such typecasting. 

Some of our greatest contemporary writers, like Stuart Dybek and Joe Meno and Audrey Niffenegger, boast masterful literary explorations on the theme of love. Many revered and successful romance writers, like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jacquelyn Mitchard, live or hail from Chicago, and use it as a setting for their novels. Our great poets, from Gwendolyn Brooks to Jamila Woods, have written scores of love poems, though many would shun such a label.

On Saturday, Feb. 13, an illustrious group of Chicago writers will give us a pandemic safe evening of chocolates and roses. Michele Morano, author of the stunning recent memoir, Like Love, will host authors Peter Orner (Love and Shame and Love), Dipiki Mukherjee (Rules of Desire), and Mitchard (Deep End of the Ocean) in a virtual revival of the Chicago Classics series. For the special Valentine’s Day Eve reading, each writer will gift you with a passage from their own extraordinary books, as well as a passage from their favorite Chicago love classic. 

The cumulative effect promises to be enlightening and entertaining, and test our notions of what love is, especially in a city that likes to think of itself as rugged. 

The event is free and open to the public, but advanced registration is required

Donald G. Evans is the Founding Executive Director of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. He is the author of a novel and short story collection, and editor of an anthology. His personal blog often explores Chicago literature, including a recent post about the Chicago writers of the WPA. He will be leading a seminar on the subject at the Newberry Library beginning Tuesday, February 16.  

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