A dozen or so years into producing the Story Week Festival of Writers he had founded, Randall Albers was looking for something fresh, something that no one had thought of yet. Tucked away over whiskeys in the back room of the Billy Goat, he asked Rick Kogan, “OK, Rick, if you were going to do something new for Story Week, what would it be? Give me an idea.” Without hesitating, Rick said, “I’d get a whole bunch of people—writers, actors, politicians, bus drivers, whatever—and have them read their favorite half-page of a Chicago book.”
Randy jumped on the idea, and for quite a few years, Rick hosted just such an event, usually in Preston Bradley Hall, with 18 people doing five minutes apiece of incredibly varied choices. Story Week’s last hurrah was in 2015—funding issues halted the glorious festival after 19 years.
Fast forward. With Randy now serving as CLHOF’s board president, it seemed only natural to reprise Chicago Classics. The venerable series represents everything at the heart of CLHOF’s mission. The old format hardly needed refinement: we were set to resume the annual live show in late 2020.
And then came Covid. So we instead invited people to create videos, which we have dubbed Chicago Quarantine Classics. When the crisis is over, we may have both live presentations and more videos.
These short presentations highlight a cross-section of our great literary heritage—past, present, and future.
Would you like to share your favorite Chicago work? Email us with your idea and we’ll let you know how to become one of our Chicago Classic readers.