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Great Chicago Books Club: Buttered Side Down

Sunday, March 25, 2018
6-8 p.m.

Humphrey House
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.

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