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Great Chicago Books Club Hits Reset

Friday, August 25, 2017

Don Evans' House
618 S. Humphrey Ave., Oak Park

The Great Chicago Books Club relaunches and for our first novel of 2017 we’re going to read Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent, his debut novel about assistant prosecuting attorney Rusty Sabich’s murder defense. The New York Times’ Adam Liptak, in a Sunday review of Identical, called Turow’s Kindle County a “shadow version of greater Chicago, which he has been building and populating since he all but created the modern legal thriller in 1987 with Presumed Innocent.

Beverages provided—potluck for appetizers and desserts. We’ve chosen to examine this novel in conjunction with the Cliff Dwellers salon taking place one evening earlier. At the salon, I’ll be sure to ask Scott about Presumed Innocent, and will share his thoughts at our book club meeting. Hopefully, a few others will be at the Cliff Dwellers Wednesday night and will also have ideas to offer.

GCBC will rotate from house-to-house on a monthly basis. Hopefully, we’ll alternate between different neighborhoods and near suburbs. At our first meeting on Thursday, March 23, we’ll ask for volunteers to host upcoming sessions and also put together a calendar for the remainder of the club schedule. (I’ll probably identify April’s book and host in advance, so we have the full month to prepare).

As part of the relaunch, I hope to unite our in-progress Literary Map of Chicago and Chicago Book of the Day projects with the GCBC. The map will be featured on our new website—set to launch May 1—and will include important sites associated with CLHOF inductees, nominees, Fuller Award recipients, and other significant Chicago authors. Over time, we will develop specialized maps built on geography, themes, or individual authors—for example, we’re creating a Gwendolyn Brooks map as part of the centennial celebration this year. The Chicago Book of the Day project is our attempt to catalogue Chicago books and authors. We’ll start with a list of titles and authors, and put together (again, over time) bios, summaries, quotations and so forth. The plan is for both these projects to be living, breathing entities, consistently growing, changing and maturing as our resources allow.

For both these projects, we’ll need readers, researchers, writers and editors. My hope is that some of the GCBC participants will agree to take notes and/or do specialized write-ups as part of their monthly reading. Totally optional, of course. A member could agree to record all significant addresses mentioned in the book, or put together a summary of the novel for publication on the website, or do an author profile, or collect links to reviews. Like that. In the end, we’ll not only enjoy our discussion, but help build the website—the ultimate goal is to make www.chicagoliteraryhof.org the ultimate resource for Chicago literature.

Finally, we’ll want to include living authors in our discussion, and at our first meeting we’ll take suggestions for contemporary books to discuss. We’ll coordinate with authors to make sure that approximately every other meeting includes the writer of that month’s book.

Please notify me if you intend to participate—we need to get a head count and also coordinate with each other.

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