Sunday, August 5, 2018
11:00 to 1:00 pm
Meet and end at the 18th Street Pink Line Stop
Stuart Dybek, Ana Castillo, and Sandra Cisneros are among the legendary living Chicago writers with strong associations to the Pilsen neighborhood. On this tour we'll place their lives and literature, along with other notable figures, in the context of this vibrant neighborhood. Stops will include the model for the fictional home on Mango Street, a mosaic that includes depictions of Castillo and Cisneros, the church featured in a classic Dybeck short story, and much more.
Tour registration: email@example.com, 773.414.2603.
Groups (8 or more walking tour: 40 or more bus tour) can arrange a date and time for any of the available tours.
Sunday, June 24, 2018
Contact Don Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The modernist movement, outside academia, is often considered elitist; artists like Gertrude Stein downright baffling; and Chicago’s place in it mostly architectural. Liesl Olson’s cultural history of that period makes a clear and insightful case that Chicago was essential to the movement, and that the literature arising from it both avant-garde and accessible. Olson, in her book, mirrors this quality that partly defined the Chicago Renaissance, distilling high-minded ideas into an intellectual carnival: the city’s art, its personalities, its industry, its euphoric struggle to make and represent a new age. Like the Chicago literary modernists, Olson (director, Chicago studies, Newberry Library) has it both ways, laying out a nuanced, scholarly discussion for the serious academic while at the same time providing an easy, entertaining read for the earnest layman.
We’re thrilled to have Liesl as our special guest for the June 24 Great Chicago Books Club meeting. Our next Great Chicago Books Club on Sunday, June 24, will feature Liesl's fantastic book Chicago Renaissance: Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis. We'll have the event at Dave and Karen Cihla's stucco 4-square home in Ravenswood Gardens – an enclave of single-family homes in Lincoln Square. The home includes a covered open front porch that runs the width of the house that we'll use for the event. The evening begins with a cocktail party at six p.m. that includes appetizers, desserts, wine, beer, and alternative beverages. The book discussion begins at 7:30 p.m. The cost is $60, which will include a new, hardcover copy of the book (retails at $35). Cost without the book is $45. Limited reservations accepted. Contact Don Evans with inquiries, to reserve your place, get your book, and/or to get more details about the private home in which the event will be held.
“Fiction and poetry give us singular access and understanding into this human dimension of Chicago’s history,” Olson writes in her introduction. “These imaginative forms allow us to inhabit a world that may be quite different from our own. To be sure, we often turn to fiction and poetry for information about the past, for evidence of the culture in which literary works were produced.”
Olson begins in 1892 with an “interlude,” or fictional scene, from Harriet Monroe’s point of view; she ends in 1944 with a chapter revolving around Gwendolyn Brooks. The interludes (Monroe, Sherwood Anderson, Fanny Butcher, Bobsy Goodspeed, Brooks) serve as intermissions from dense scholarship and preview material to come (chapters featuring Monroe, Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, Stein, and Brooks). The structure allows Olson wide berth to seamlessly integrate mounds of historical research, and in so doing demonstrate the overlapping, influential relationships between artistic disciplines, institutions, places, people, periodicals, books, events, and support groups.
Monroe to Brooks is a deliberate choice that signals Olson’s insistence on showing that Chicago’s earlier (mostly white) and later (mostly black) renaissances were part of a continuous creative uprising. A scene in which Nelson Algren offers editorial insight to Brooks provides a glimpse into the connective tissues between seemingly disparate groups and times. This structure also shows Olson’s determination to represent the influence of women and non-writers on this creative period.
Olson does, in fact, convince readers that lasting work from that period was conceived and nurtured amongst a crowd rather than in isolation. Olson’s most remarkable accomplishment, among many in this extraordinary book, is that she allows the reader to feel the thrill in creation. Creation unique to a city new enough to see potential in a blank canvas. Creation that enacted and reflected change. Creation bigger than its creator. As Olson writes of Monroe in her conclusion, “To be part of a movement—a collective, a cohort—was for her to feel a larger sense of possibility, of new potential, of optimistic boosterism so distinctive to Chicago.”
Sunday, May 27, 2018
Email Don Evans at email@example.com for details.
Maud Martha (1958) is Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks’ only work of adult fiction. The 34 vignettes tell the story of a girl’s maturation from girlhood to adolescence to womanhood in 1930s and 1940s black Chicago. Maud is the novella’s protagonist, and through her eyes we see the extraordinary circumstances and people and events that constitute her ordinary life. The book is rendered with humanity and musicality, as one would expect from one of the 20th century’s greatest poets. Brooks’ daughter, Nora Brooks Blakely, will join us as the Great Chicago Books Club discusses Maud Martha at our meeting on Sunday, May 27, from 6-8 p.m. Nora, a top Gwendolyn Brooks scholar, will offer insight into her mother’s life and work. Margot McMahon, the artist whose Gwendolyn Brooks sculpture will be installed in Brooks Park on June 7, will host the event at her Oak Park home. All are welcome to join, but you must contact Don Evans for more information and the address of the meeting. Free and open to the public. The evening will begin with a peak inside Margot's studio, where she will show her clay sculpture and drawings in anticipation of the Gwendolyn Brooks: Oracle of Bronzeville dedication in Brooks Park June 7. There will be appetizers and drinks in a social hour preceding our conversation, and conversation about the book over dinner. We encourage guests to contribute something in a kind of pot luck spirit.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
For details, contact email Don Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Great Chicago Books Club is ecstatic to announce that Sara Paretsky will be our special guest as we host an evening of food, drink, and literary discussion centered around her classic Chicago novel Hardball, in which Chicago private investigator V.I. Warshawski takes on a cold case that might possibly prove her cherished father to have been a dirty cop.
We’re equally ecstatic to announce that the host for this special program, in which funds raised will help CLHOF’s myriad programming throughout the year, will be the fabulous Oak Park bed and breakfast, Bishops Hall.
Built in 1916 in the Georgian revival style, Bishops Hall derives its name from serving as the residence for the metropolitan bishop of the Orthodox Church for several decades. Located in the historical district of Oak Park, the home is a contemporary to and set amongst the most significant concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright commissioned homes, including Wright’s own home and studio.
Hardball is an absolutely beautiful and gritty detective story told by one of our finest practitioners. In taking on a four-decades old missing person case, Warshawski also takes on the dirty underbelly of Chicago politics and race relations. Extremely limited registration will be accepted for the evening, which includes a cocktail hour, dinner, and then discussion with the author. To register ($200 per person) or inquire, please email Don Evans.
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Oak Park, IL 60304
Edna Ferber’s 1912 collection of a dozen short stories amounted to a coming out party for an author who would eventually win a Pulitzer Prize and generally be considered among the greatest and most prolific American authors of the 1920s and 30s. The New York Times, reviewing the collection on June 9, 1912, wrote, “Edna Ferber is the Chicago O. Henry. Her short stories have the crispness of the genius named, the vividness, the nervousness.” The stories feature street-wise working women grinding it out as stenographers, shopkeepers, actresses, and other marginally-rewarded occupations. The stories are brisk, irreverent, fun, and mostly set during the first decade of the 20th Century. Chicago figures prominently in the collection, as Ferber explores rural versus urban life and the merits of the city relative to New York, among other topics. Ferber had moved to Chicago several years before the book’s publication (around late 1909), and regularly returned to the city even after she began spending winters in New York City in late 1912. Julia Goldsmith Gilbert, Ferber’s biographer and niece, wrote, “Like a new bride rushing home to Mamma, whenever Ferber had a new book out, she made her way back to Chicago. This was her literary nest, where she felt safe, appreciated, and loved.” This was Ferber’s second major publication, after the novel Dawn O’Hara the previous year. Ferber also explored Chicago in the novels The Girls and So Big. Great Chicago Books Club will discuss Ferber’s collection at our next meeting, Sunday, March 25, from 6-8 p.m. All are welcome to join, but you must contact Don Evans for more information and the address of the meeting. Free and open to the public. There will be food and drink in a social hour preceding our conversation, and we encourage guests to contribute something in a kind of pot luck spirit. You can read a free digital version by clicking here.
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Chicago Literacy Alliance
641 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60661
Adam Morgan (publisher, Chicago Review of Books) leads a conversation about the Chicago comic book scene, including its evolution from the early strips to contemporary trends. He'll be joined by cultural anthropologist Stanford W. Carpenter (Rice University, Institute for Comic Studies, Cosmic Underground) and top comic book creators Michael Moreci (Roche Limit, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash) and Ashley A. Woods (Niobe, Lady Castle) In partnership with Chicago Literarcy Alliance and Chicago Review of Books. Free and open to the public.