WBEZ | literature http://www.wbez.org/tags/literature Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 25 inspiring authors for writers http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-12/25-inspiring-authors-writers-109352 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" dominique="" penguin="" press="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dominique%20Nabokov.jpg" title="Press photo for Zadie Smith, author of &quot;NW.&quot; (Dominique Nabokov/Penguin Press)" /></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The great endeavor of writing a novel, I have discovered, is equal parts exhilarating, exasperating, and exhausting. One day can bring a huge breakthrough, with ideas overflowing and fingers flying across the keyboard, while the next can amount to nothing more than a tiny black cursor blinking desperately on a blank page.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In these moments, I search for traces of kinship in the literary giants who came before me.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Did Hemingway ever struggle with writer&#39;s block when he was scribbling away in those Paris cafés? Did Salinger obsessively re-write sentences and anguish over syntax, too? Did Woolf realize her writing would continue to be read and cherished by women in the 21st century&mdash;that a lonely girl from Texas would pick up &quot;A Room of One&#39;s Own&quot; and yearn for the freedoms she described?&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Meanwhile, Buzzfeed is running a wonderful&nbsp;<a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/colinwinnette/aimee-bender-there-is-such-genuine-happiness" target="_blank">interview series</a>&nbsp;on writers recalling and dissecting the books that have formed them, which prompted me to further examine which authors have had the most profound impact on my life.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">When did I realize that I wanted to be a novelist? At first, I thought it must be around the time that I first read &quot;To Kill A Mockingbird&quot; (my first classic, age 8) or &quot;Harry Potter&quot; (my first serial obsession, age 11), but then remembered a host of other novels written by authors who still feel like old friends, though we&#39;ve never met.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Turns out, I have many to thank for shaping me into the writer that I am today.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In no particular order:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>1. Zadie Smith.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;White Teeth&quot; (2000), &quot;On Beauty&quot; (2005), and &quot;NW&quot; (2013)&nbsp;</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;1. When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else. 2. When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.&quot;&nbsp;<em>&mdash;&nbsp;</em><em>Smith, from her &quot;10 Rules of Writing&quot; published in the <a href="http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/09/19/zadie-smith-10-rules-of-writing/" target="_blank">New York Times</a>.</em></div></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>2.&nbsp;Gabriel García Márquez.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;One Hundred Years of Solitude&quot; (1967) and &quot;Love in the Time of Cholera&quot; (1985)</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;If I had to give a young writer some advice I would say to write about something that has happened to him; it&rsquo;s always easy to tell whether a writer is writing about something that has happened to him or something he has read or been told. Pablo Neruda has a line in a poem that says &#39;God help me from inventing when I sing.&#39; It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there&rsquo;s not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality.&quot; &mdash; <em>Márquez, interviewed for <a href="http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/3196/the-art-of-fiction-no-69-gabriel-garcia-marquez" target="_blank">The Paris Review</a> after winning the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature for &quot;One Hundred Years of Solitude.&quot;</em></div></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>3. Nick Hornby.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;Fever Pitch&quot; (1992), &quot;High Fidelity&quot; (1995) and &quot;About a Boy&quot; (1998)</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;One of the questions that is probably troubling you at the moment is this: How do I know whether I&rsquo;m a writer? And the question can only be answered with another question: Well, do you write? If you don&rsquo;t, you&rsquo;re not. If you do, you are. There&rsquo;s nothing else to it...Walk into a bookshop and you will see books that you love and books that you hate, books that were written in three weeks and books that took thirty years, books that were written under the influence of drugs and alcohol, books that were written in splendid isolation, books that were written in Starbucks. Some of them were written with enormous enjoyment, some for money, some in fear and loathing and despair. The only thing they all have in common&mdash;and actually there is the odd honourable exception even to this rule&mdash;is that their authors finished them, sooner or later.&quot; - <em>Hornby, in an excerpt from his <a href="http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/nick-hornby" target="_blank">Pep Talk</a> for National Novel Writing Month, 2013. &nbsp;</em></div></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>4. Chuck Palahniuk.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;Fight Club&quot; (1996), &quot;Survivor&quot; (1999) and &quot;Choke&quot; (2001)</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Your audience is smarter than you imagine. Don&#39;t be afraid to experiment with story forms and time shifts. My personal theory is that younger readers disdain most books &mdash; not because those readers are dumber than past readers, but because today&#39;s reader is smarter. Movies have made us very sophisticated about storytelling. And your audience is much harder to shock than you can ever imagine.&quot; &mdash; <em>Palahniuk, from his &quot;<a href="http://chuckpalahniuk.net/features/essays/13-writing-tips" target="_blank">Essays on Writing</a>.&quot;</em></div></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>5. Joan Didion</strong></span><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Joan Didion.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Joan Didion in 1977. (AP Photo/File) " /><strong>. Most notable works:</strong> &quot;Slouching Towards Bethlehem&quot; (1968), &quot;Play As It Lays&quot; (1970) and &quot;The Year of Magical Thinking&quot; (2005)</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Of course I stole the title for this talk, from George Orwell.&nbsp;One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this: I,&nbsp;I,&nbsp;I. In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It&rsquo;s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions &mdash; with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating &mdash; but there&rsquo;s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer&rsquo;s sensibility on the reader&rsquo;s most private space.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Didion, from &quot;<a href="http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/10/16/why-i-write-joan-didion/" target="_blank">Why I Write</a>&quot; in the New York Times Book Review, 1976.&nbsp;</em></div></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>6. Ernest Hemingway.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works: </strong>&quot;The Sun Also Rises&quot; (1926), &quot;A Farewell to Arms&quot; (1929), &quot;For Whom the Bell Tolls&quot; (1940) and &quot;The Old Man and the Sea&quot; (1952)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you, so try to remember it.&quot;&mdash;<em>&nbsp;Hemingway, in an October 1935 article about writing for <a href="http://www.openculture.com/2013/02/seven_tips_from_ernest_hemingway_on_how_to_write_fiction.html" target="_blank">Esquire</a>.</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>7. J.D. Salinger.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;Catcher in the Rye&quot; (1951), &quot;Nine Stories&quot; (1953) and &quot;Franny and Zooey&quot; (1961)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;I have to know my character thoroughly before I start, and know how he&rsquo;d act in every situation. If I am writing about Mr. Tidwinkle&#39;s golf game, I must also know how he would act when drunk, or at a bachelor dinner, or in the bathtub or in bed &mdash; and it must all be very real and ordinary.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Salinger, to journalist Shirley Ardman in New York,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thedrum.com/news/2012/01/26/top-tips-writers-jd-salinger-advice-beyond-grave" target="_blank">1941</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>8. Mary Shelley.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable work:</strong> &quot;Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus&quot; (1818)&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p>&quot;How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to be greater than his nature will allow.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Shelley, &quot;Frankenstein&quot; (written at <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein" target="_blank">age 19</a>) &nbsp;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>9. George Orwell.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;1984&quot; (1949) and &quot;Animal Farm&quot; (1945)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.&nbsp;This sounds easy, but in practice is incredibly difficult. Phrases such as&nbsp;toe the line,&nbsp;ride roughshod over,&nbsp;stand shoulder to shoulder with,&nbsp;play into the hands of, an axe to grind, Achilles&rsquo; heel, swan song,&nbsp;and&nbsp;hotbed&nbsp;come to mind quickly and feel comforting and melodic. For this exact reason they must be avoided. Common phrases have become so comfortable that they create no emotional response. Take the time to invent fresh, powerful images.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Orwell, from his <a href="http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/george-orwells-5-rules-for-effective-writing/" target="_blank">1946 essay</a>,&quot;Politics and the English Language.&quot;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><b>10. Toni Morrison.&nbsp;</b></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;Beloved&quot; (1987) and &quot;Song of Solomon&quot; (1977)</p><blockquote><p>&#39;&#39;I am not able to write regularly. I have never been able to do that&mdash;mostly because I have always had a nine-to-five job. I had to write either in between those hours, hurriedly, or spend a lot of weekend and predawn time [doing it].&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Morrison, in an excerpt from her 1993 interview with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1888/the-art-of-fiction-no-134-toni-morrison" target="_blank">The Paris Review</a>.</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><b>11. Virginia Woolf.&nbsp;</b></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;Mrs. Dalloway&quot; (1925), &quot;To the Lighthouse&quot;(1928) and &quot;A Room of One&#39;s Own&quot; (1929)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Bronte who dashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to.&nbsp;Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.&rdquo; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Woolf, in an excerpt from &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Room_of_One%27s_Own" target="_blank">A Room of One&#39;s Own.</a>&quot;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>12. Dave Eggers.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius&quot;(2000) and &quot;The Circle&quot; (2013)</p><blockquote><p>&#39;&#39;And here is where I spend seven or eight hours at a stretch. Seven or eight hours each time I try to write. Most of that time is spent stalling, which means that for every seven or eight hours I spend pretending to write&mdash;sitting in the writing position, looking at a screen&mdash;I get, on average, one hour of actual work done. It&rsquo;s a terrible, unconscionable ratio.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Eggers, from the 2010 article &quot;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/10/AR2010121003215.html" target="_blank">Dave Egger&#39;s Writing Life</a>,&quot; published in the Washington Post.</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>13. Mark Twain.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works: </strong>&quot;Adventures of Huckleberry Finn&quot; (1885) and &quot;The Adventures of Tom Sawyer&quot; (1876)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.&#39;&#39; &mdash; <em>Twain, on how <a href="http://www.rebellesociety.com/2012/11/14/writing-lab-11-juicy-tips-from-mark-twain/" target="_blank">writing is re-writing</a>.</em></p></blockquote><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ROALD_DAHL_AP_.jpg" style="height: 433px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Roald Dahl in 1964. (AP Photo/File)" /><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>14. Roald Dahl.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;James and the Giant Peach&quot; (1961), &quot;Charlie and the Chocolate Factory&quot; (1964) and &quot;Matilda&quot;(1988)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;The prime function of the children&rsquo;s book writer is to write a book that is so absorbing, exciting, funny, fast and beautiful that the child will fall in love with it. And that first love affair between the young child and the young book will lead hopefully to other loves for other books and when that happens the battle is probably won. The child will have found a crock of gold. He will also have gained something that will help to carry him most&nbsp;marvelously&nbsp;through the tangles of his later years.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Dahl on the power of <a href="http://scribblepreach.com/2013/04/25/how-to-write-like-roald-dahl/" target="_blank">children&#39;s books</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>15. Margaret Atwood.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works: </strong>&quot;The Handmaid&#39;s Tale&quot; (1985), &quot;Cat&#39;s Eye,&quot;(1988), &quot;Blind Assassin&quot; (2000) and &quot;Oryx and Crake&quot; (2003)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Sometimes people are surprised that a woman would write such things.&nbsp;<em>Bodily Harm</em>, for instance, was perceived as some kind of incursion into a world that is supposed to be male. Certainly violence is more a part of my work than it is of Jane Austen&rsquo;s, or George Eliot&rsquo;s. They didn&rsquo;t do it in those days. Charles Dickens wrote about Bill Sikes bludgeoning Nancy to death, getting blood all over everything, but if a woman had written that, nobody would have published it. Actually, I grew up violence-free and among people who were extremely civilized in their behavior. &quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Atwood, on writing violence, from her 1990 interview for the <a href="http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/2262/the-art-of-fiction-no-121-margaret-atwood" target="_blank">The Paris Review</a>.</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>16. Vladmir Nabokov.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable work: </strong>&quot;Lolita&quot; (1955)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;After waking up between six and seven in the morning, I write till ten-thirty, generally at a lectern which faces a bright corner of the room instead of the bright audiences of my professorial days. The first half- hour of relaxation is breakfast with my wife around eight-thirty... Around eleven, I soak for 20 minutes in a hot bath, with a sponge on my head and a wordsman&rsquo;s worry in it, encroaching, alas, upon the nirvana. A stroll with my wife along the lake is followed by a frugal lunch and a two-hour nap, after which I resume my work until dinner at seven. An American friend gave us a Scrabble set in Cyrillic alphabet, manufactured in Newtown, Conn.; so we play&nbsp;<em>skrebl</em>&nbsp;for an hour or two after dinner. Then I read in bed&mdash; periodicals or one of the novels that proud publishers optimistically send us. Between eleven and midnight begins my usual fight with insomnia. Such are my habits in the cold season.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Nabokov, when asked how he works and relaxes in an 1968 interview with the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/03/02/lifetimes/nab-v-things.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>17. Richard Wright.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;Uncle Tom&#39;s Cabin&quot; (1938), &quot;Native Son&quot; (1940) and &quot;Black Boy&quot; (1945)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Wright, from &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_boy" target="_blank">Black Boy.</a>&quot;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>18. Hunter S. Thompson.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works: </strong>&quot;Hell&#39;s Angels&quot; (1967), &quot;Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas&quot; (1971) and &quot;The Rum Diary&quot; (1998)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I&#39;m not sure that I&#39;m going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says &#39;you are nothing&#39;, I will be a writer.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Thompson, from &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Gonzo-Hunter-S-Thompson/dp/097860766X" target="_blank">Gonzo.</a>&quot;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>19. Kurt Vonnegut</strong></span><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/kurt_vonnegut_ap_img.jpg" style="float: right; height: 212px; width: 320px;" title="Kurt Vonnegut in 1979. (AP Photo/File)" /><strong>. Most notable works:</strong> &quot;Cat&#39;s Cradle&quot; (1963), &quot;Slaughterhouse-Five&quot; (1969) and &quot;Breakfast of Champions&quot; (1973)</p><blockquote><p>&quot; 1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. 2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. 3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water. 4. Every sentence must do one of two things &mdash;reveal character or advance the action. 5. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them&mdash;in order that the reader may see what they are made of.&quot; &nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;<em>From Vonnegut&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/index.php/PageID/538" target="_blank">8 Basics of Creative Writing</a>&quot; in the preface of his short story collection, &quot;Bagombo Snuff Box.&quot;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>20. Elie Wiesel.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable work:</strong> &quot;Night&quot; (1955)&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Why do I write? Perhaps in order not to go mad. Or, on the contrary, to touch the bottom of madness...There are easier occupations, far more pleasant ones. But for the survivor, writing is not a profession, but an occupation, a duty. Camus calls it &#39;an honor.&#39; As he puts it: &#39;I entered literature through worship.&#39; Other writers have said they did so through anger, through love.&nbsp; Speaking for myself, I would say &mdash; through silence.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Wiesel, in an excerpt from &quot;<a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;ved=0CC4QFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.litjunkies.com%2FWhy%2520I%2520Write.doc&amp;ei=gbWpUr2NAuamygGVqoDoDg&amp;usg=AFQjCNGSnkS4wm30rmI_li7l-ILEuIDfVA&amp;sig2=mqauA92_eJtyi_KE1ZtopQ&amp;bvm=bv.57967247,d.aWc">Why I Write: Making No Become Yes</a>.&quot;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>21. Jack Keroauc.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;On the Road&quot;(1957) and &quot;Big Sur&quot; (1962)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy, 2. Submissive to everything, open, listening, 3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house, 4. Be in love with yr life, 5. Something that you feel will find its own form.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Keroauc, from his 30 essentials in &quot;<a href="http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/index.php/PageID/464" target="_blank">Belief and Technique for Modern Prose.</a>&quot;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>22. Harper Lee.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable work:</strong> &quot;To Kill a Mockingbird&quot; (1960)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Lee in <a href="http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/thick-skin" target="_blank">Writer&#39;s Digest</a>, September 1961.&nbsp;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>23. Stephen King.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;Carrie&quot; (1974), &quot;The Shining&quot; (1977) and &quot;Misery&quot; (1987)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it &#39;got boring,&#39; the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.&quot;<em>&nbsp;</em><em>&mdash;</em><em>King, from &quot;<a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/stephen-kings-top-20-rules-for-writers/" target="_blank">On Writing</a>.&quot;</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>24. John Steinbeck.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> &quot;Of Mice and Men&quot; (1937), &quot;The Grapes of Wrath&quot; (1939) and &quot;East of Eden&quot; (1952)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.&quot; &mdash; <em>Steinbeck, from his &quot;<a href="http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/03/12/john-steinbeck-six-tips-on-writing/" target="_blank">Six Tips on Writing</a>&quot; in the Fall 1975 issue of The Paris Review.</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>25. J.K. Rowling.&nbsp;</strong></span><strong>Most notable works:</strong> the &quot;Harry Potter&quot; series (1997-2007)</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me...And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.&quot; &mdash; <em>Rowling, on living as a single mother on welfare before publishing the first &quot;Harry Potter&quot; book at age 32.</em></p></blockquote><p><strong>Honorable mentions:</strong> Marya Hornbacher, David Sedaris, the Brontë sisters, and the poets: Whitman, Poe, Dickinson, Plath, Silverstein, Frost, Ginsberg, Yeats, Angelou, Emerson, and Wilde.</p><p><strong>Which authors, poets, and essayists have inspired you?</strong></p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about art and popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 12 Dec 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-12/25-inspiring-authors-writers-109352 What is the ultimate Chicago book? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-ultimate-chicago-book-107060 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Mosaic.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p dir="ltr">Curious Citizen <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/archive/question/473">Pavel Gigov asked a question</a> a few months ago that might have been answered in Rachel Shteir&#39;s recent <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/books/review/the-third-coast-by-thomas-dyja-and-more.html?pagewanted=all" target="_blank">New York Times Book Review article</a>. Pavel wants to know which single book could teach him the most about Chicago. In Shteir&#39;s infamous review of three recent books about Chicago, she gave short shrift to the city&#39;s literary context, instead focusing on myriad problems plaguing &quot;Poor Chicago.&quot; Nearly three weeks out and, with our collective ire down to simmering, now is as good a time as any to answer Pavel&#39;s question.</p><p>To start off, we reached out to someone who&rsquo;s at least familiar with the theme: Annie Tully, who directs the <a href="http://www.chipublib.org/eventsprog/programs/onebook_onechgo.php" target="_blank">One Book, One Chicago</a> program at the Chicago Public Library. After huddling with library staff and consulting their <a href="http://www.chipublib.org/list/read/id/43/" target="_blank">master</a> <a href="http://www.chipublib.org/list/read/id/31/" target="_blank">lists</a>, she sent us a list of titles that could potentially fit the bill for Pavel. That list, produced below, includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children&#39;s literature and graphic novels. While <em>The Encyclopedia of Chicago</em> contains a lot of facts about the city, <em>Chicago Poems</em> by Carl Sandberg may convey more essential truths. Could Gwendolyn Brooks&rsquo; <em>Bronzeville Boys and Girls</em> be more instructive than Mike Royko&#39;s early columns?</p><p dir="ltr">Of course we can&#39;t settle on one book to define Chicago, because there are as many &ldquo;Chicagos&rdquo; as there are Chicagoans. Rachel Shteir would certainly have a different choice (<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/books/review/up-front.html?_r=0" target="_blank">possibly <em>Sister Carrie</em></a>)<em> </em>than <a href="http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2013/04/steinberg-v-the-new-york-times-.html" target="_blank">Neil Steinberg</a>. But that just means we get to have a conversation about our choices and hopefully understand more about the vast array of different Chicagos.</p><p>So please choose a book from this list that best explains Chicago as you understand it. If your choice isn&#39;t listed, please add it. Maybe Rick Kogan&#39;s <em>Dr. Night Life </em>should be included, who knows? We&#39;ll talk about the top five books next Monday on <em>Morning Shift</em>.</p><script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8" src="http://static.polldaddy.com/p/7085758.js"></script><noscript><a href="http://polldaddy.com/poll/7085758/">If there was one book that one should purchase in order to learn the most about Chicago, which one would it be?</a></noscript><p dir="ltr"><em>Andrew Gill is a WBEZ web producer. Follow him <a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill">@andrewgill.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 07 May 2013 14:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-ultimate-chicago-book-107060 'Push' author Sapphire revisits childhood abuse in second novel http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/push-author-sapphire-revisits-childhood-abuse-second-novel-106243 <p><p><strong><em>[Trigger Warning] </em></strong></p><p>Sapphire does not shy away from difficult subjects.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sapphire%20penguin%20press.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Sapphire (Courtesy of Penguin)" />The author, who chose her pen name as a salute to strong black women, is known for penning devastatingly realized stories of childhood sexual abuse and trauma. Her 1996 novel <em>Push&nbsp;</em>tells the story of Claireece &ldquo;Precious&rdquo; Jones, an illiterate, obese, 16-year-old girl pregnant with a second child by her own father. The novel was adapted in 2009, and the resulting film, <em>Precious</em>, garnered many accolades, including two Academy Awards. But the film also stirred controversy with its graphic depictions of incest and domestic abuse. &nbsp;</p><p>Sapphire was herself the victim of childhood sexual assault. In 2010 <a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/how-author-created-film-character-precious-through-her-own-sexual-abuse-6735992.html">she told the <em>London Evening Standard</em></a> that her father, a Korean War vet, had molested her at age eight. Her mother abandoned their family five years later.</p><p>&ldquo;It was traumatic &mdash; but to be left with our crazy dad, doubly so,&quot; she told the paper.</p><p>She created the character precious from an amalgam of her own experiences and those of students she later mentored in Harlem.</p><p>Sapphire followed <em>Push</em> with a sequel, <em>The Kid</em>, in 2011. As the novel opens, we learn that Precious has died of AIDS, leaving her nine-year-old son Abdul alone in the world.</p><p>Abdul is sent to live in a Catholic orphanage, and what befalls him there is brutal and heartbreaking -- and all too familiar to anyone who follows the ever-unfolding story of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. (A new wrinkle in that story unfolded just this week, as files released by the Diocese of Joliet <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/joliet_romeoville/chi-open-files-part-of-settlement-for-priest-sex-abuse-victim-20130320,0,440885.story">revealed decades of abuse</a> hidden by high-level clergy.)</p><p>Abdul is sexually assaulted by a priest during his time in the orphanage. And as sometimes happens to those who have been abused, he goes on in turn to become an abuser, raping younger, weaker boys living in the orphanage.</p><p>&ldquo;While numerous heterosexual black male writers and critics have bemoaned the . . . one-dimensional portrait of black man as victimizer, few have been interested in or have had the courage to explore the obvious other end of the stick: the black male as victim of sexual abuse,&rdquo; Sapphire said at a talk in Chicago last week, reading from a Q &amp; A section published alongside her novel. &ldquo;<em>The Kid</em>, among other things, begins an accurate portrayal of what happens to many young males who have been abused and their sometimes hideous response.&rdquo;</p><p>The results for Abdul are devastating, as they were for his mother. And while <em>Push</em> addressed the failure of the nuclear family to protect its children, <em>The Kid</em> takes up the failure of institutions charged with their care.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re really looking at the abandoning of the social contract in a way we didn&rsquo;t see in <em>Push</em>,&rdquo; Sapphire said. &ldquo;That was something I really wanted to show: What happens when everything except the soul of the individuals fails?&rdquo;</p><p>Sapphire read two passages from <em>The Kid</em> during her appearance at Chicago Public Library. We&rsquo;ve included an excerpt of her talk here in audio form, but please be warned. . . . &nbsp;</p><p><strong><em>TRIGGER WARNING</em>: <em>The book excerpt Sapphire reads here includes a graphic rape scene</em></strong><em>, </em>in addition to a later scene which shows some redemption and healing for her main character. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s">Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</a></em>&nbsp;<em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Sapphire spoke at an event presented by Chicago Public Library in March. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/sapphire-discusses-kid-106224">here</a>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 23 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/push-author-sapphire-revisits-childhood-abuse-second-novel-106243 The short, unhappy life of Algren Street http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/short-unhappy-life-algren-street-103434 <p><p>Nelson Algren&mdash;one of America&rsquo;s great writers and a charter member of the Chicago Hall of Fame&mdash;died in 1981. Columnist Mike Royko had been one of his friends. Royko came up with what seemed like an appropriate way to honor Algren.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/11-14--Algren%20%28LofC%29.jpg" style="float: left; height: 318px; width: 250px;" title="Nelson Algren (Library of Congress)" /></div></div><p>For many years Algren had lived in a three-story walkup at 1958 West Evergreen Avenue. &ldquo;It would be a nice gesture for [the city] to rename one of the little streets around Wicker Park after him,&rdquo; Royko wrote. &ldquo;Algren Court or Algren Place. Nothing big. He wouldn&rsquo;t expect it.&rdquo;</p><p>That was in May. Early the next year, Royko received word that Mayor Jane Byrne had taken up his suggestion. Evergreen Avenue, between Milwaukee and Damen, would be renamed Algren Street. The mayor even sent Royko one of the new street signs.</p><p>The trouble started when city crews began putting up those signs.</p><p>Algren had never been popular with the city&rsquo;s Polish community, who thought his writings slandered them. There were still a lot of Poles living in Wicker Park in 1982. They didn&rsquo;t like the new street name.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/11-14--Algren's Home.JPG" style="float: right; height: 326px; width: 217px;" title="Algren's walkup on Evergreen Avenue" /></div><p>Neither did some of the people who lived on Evergreen. Handbills began circulating in the neighborhood. They warned of all the problems and expense the name change would cause.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Residents would have to spend a small fortune revising their driver&rsquo;s licenses and other official documents. Delivery men and visitors would get lost. Someone might even die if an ambulance couldn&rsquo;t locate an address.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Pressure was put on the alderman to change the name back. In the meantime, activists began hanging cardboard signs reading &ldquo;EVERGREEN&rdquo; over the Algren Street signs.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">After a few weeks of guerilla war, the city gave in. It turned out that the crews had put up the &ldquo;Algren&rdquo; signs before the City Council had officially voted on the mayor&rsquo;s proposal. The local alderman asked his colleagues reject the name change, and they did. Evergreen remained Evergreen.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/11-14--Algren Tribute.JPG" style="float: left; height: 320px; width: 240px;" title="Algren 'Chicago Tribute' marker" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The whole business made an impression on the politicians. Shortly after the Algren Street debacle, Chicago began issuing honorary street names&mdash;those brown and white signs you see hung under the real street signs at hundreds of places around town. That way, some worthy person can be memorialized without arousing the voters&rsquo; wrath.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">I&#39;d thought the city had settled on making the few blocks of Evergreen an honorary Algren Street. But when I visited there recently, I didn&rsquo;t see one brown sign. And in front of Algren&rsquo;s old home, the Chicago Tribute marker is tilting badly to one side. It looks like it was hit by a truck.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Some people have long memories. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 12 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/short-unhappy-life-algren-street-103434 A brief chat with author Jami Attenberg http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-11/brief-chat-author-jami-attenberg-103726 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jami%20Attenberg.jpg" style="height: 432px; width: 620px; " title="Jami Attenberg (Photo by Michael Sharkey)" /></div><p>Jami Attenberg is a writer pal of mine whom I interviewed <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2008/01/1_there_is_some_sex.php">many moons ago</a>. However, now she has a new book, the fabulous and fabulously-reviewed <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Middlesteins-Novel-Jami-Attenberg/dp/1455507210">The Middlesteins</a>,&nbsp;</em>so I wanted to ask her a few new questions.<em>&nbsp;</em>Jami reads this Thursday November 8 at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/event/jami-attenberg-middlesteins">The Book Cellar at 7 p.m.</a>, so come say hi, have a glass of wine and get your book signed!</p><p><strong>What made you decide to set <em>The Middlesteins</em> in the Chicagoland area as opposed to New York or any of the other places you&#39;ve lived?</strong><br />I remember reading <em>Olive Kitteridge</em>, which is such a wonderful book, and thinking I wanted to write something like that about the suburbs of Chicago &mdash; it felt like a very complete look at a particular place, and I wanted to do the same for where I grew up. It took another year or so before I actually sat down to write <em>The Middlesteins</em>, but as soon as I started working on it, they physical landscape felt very clear in my mind, even though I hadn&rsquo;t lived here in a long time.</p><p><strong>How did you come up with the name &quot;<em>The Middlesteins</em>&quot;? What (if any) other names did you consider?</strong><br />Initially, I wanted to call the book <em>Sprawl</em>, because I was thinking about the idea of suburban sprawl, and also this feeling of collapse and exhaustion. Maybe for the first month it was called that. <em>The Middlesteins</em>, to me, is a very obvious name. I can&rsquo;t really recall the moment I thought of it &mdash; I should search through my correspondence! But it was a moment of clarity, I do recall that. The book started out being about a place, but it is the people in the community that anchor it together.</p><p><strong>This book, your fourth novel, received a major push from your publisher. How do you think you&#39;d be affected if this was your first novel as opposed to your fourth? Has there been any downside to the additional attention? </strong><br />I don&rsquo;t know how I would have handled it had it been my first, but I suspect I appreciate it more now, especially since my books have not done particularly well in the past. I have a lot gratitude to everyone around me, the people at my publishing house, my agent, and the press that have given the book coverage &mdash; and to the people who are buying it. I have perspective; I know this can all go away in a second. People can be excited about you and your work one minute, and ignore you at a party a week later. In the end, you know who your friends are, and what matters the most is actually being able to do your work. I must admit along the way I have developed an exceptional bullsh*t radar.</p><div><p>And there is no downside to the additional attention, Claire. I&rsquo;m happy to have people reading my books!</p><p><strong>What do you always make sure to do when you&#39;re back home in Chicago?</strong><br />Can&rsquo;t wait to eat! I fantasize about the decadence. It&rsquo;s going to be either pizza or Hot Doug&rsquo;s. (Or both.)</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-11/brief-chat-author-jami-attenberg-103726 For novelist Don DeLillo, sometimes a single picture is worth more than a thousand words http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/novelist-don-delillo-sometimes-single-picture-worth-more-thousand-words-103459 <p><p>Novelist Don DeLillo says some of his densest, most complex tomes have been inspired by viewing a single image. Often it&#39;s a photograph, or sometimes a painting, or even the blocky, visceral letters of the Greek alphabet carved into the frieze of a temple. The novelist behind classics like <em>Underworld </em>and <em>White Noise</em> was in Chicago last week to accept an award from the Chicago Public Library. Donna Seaman, senior editor for <em>Booklist</em>, spoke with DeLillo and teased out this thread in the author&#39;s work.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><p>Take a listen to an extended excerpt from Seaman&rsquo;s interview with DeLillo,&nbsp; and check out some of the powerful images that spurred him to write.</p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F64925295&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe><p>On the influence of French New Wave cinema:</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/dfZQpLSuxKE" width="420"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:20px;">&ldquo;I grew up in the Bronx, and we had movie theaters &ndash; plenty of them &ndash; and we went to the movies frequently, the young guys. Suddenly, a bit later, when I was living in Manhattan, European movies appeared, strikingly different from westerns and Hollywood musicals and so on. Truffaut, Godard, Antonioni &ndash; so many good directors. And it began to occur to me that &lsquo;film&rsquo; as it was now being called, could have the depth and range of an album. This was new to my mind.&rdquo;</span></p><p>On the newspaper headlines that inspired the novel <em>Underworld</em>:</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NY%20Times%20home%20page%20DeLillo.jpg" style="height: 390px; width: 500px; " title="" /></p><p><span style="font-size: 20px; ">&ldquo;Something made me go to the library. Some sense of importance beyond the [famous Brooklyn Dodgers vs. New York Giants baseball game]. I went and found the front page for </span><em style="font-size: 20px; ">The New York Times </em><span style="font-size: 20px; ">the day after the ball game, Oct. 4, 1951. . . The second headline across the page was &lsquo;Soviets explode nuclear bomb.&rsquo; I saw these two headlines, literally, in a pictorial way, the way they were matched, each followed by three columns of type, and of course some sort of historical resonance taking place. Bobby Thompson&rsquo;s home run became known immediately as the &lsquo;Shot heard &lsquo;round the world,&rsquo; which was a kind of American vanity, assuming that everyone in the world was aware of this ballgame. This got me started on </span><em style="font-size: 20px; ">Underworld</em><span style="font-size: 20px; ">.&rdquo;</span></p><p>On the influence of <em>Baader-Meinhof</em>, Gerhard Richter&rsquo;s painting series about the left-wing German militant group:&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Baader%20Meinhof%20DeLillo.jpg" style="height: 550px; width: 500px; " title="" /></p><p><span style="font-size:20px;">&ldquo;The first time I saw these paintings I wasn&rsquo;t that influenced by them; I wasn&rsquo;t that impressed by them. But when I saw them again and then again, I began to see things I hadn&rsquo;t seen the first time. I don&rsquo;t know if I could tell you what I saw &ndash; I&rsquo;m not an art critic . . .&nbsp; And so I wrote a short story about a woman sitting alone in a gallery. I tried to discover who she was and what would happen.&rdquo;</span></p><p>On the influence of a single image of September 11th:</p><p style="text-align: center; "><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/911%20guy%20Getty%20DeLillo.jpg" style="height: 389px; width: 300px; " title="" /></p><p><span style="font-size:20px;">&ldquo;Something in this photograph just hit me. There were much more dramatic photographs; I don&rsquo;t know why it was this one. About a day later it occurred to me: the briefcase was not his. This is what inspired me to write the novel [<em>Falling Man</em>]. Essentially to find out whose briefcase he was carrying.&rdquo;</span></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Don DeLillo spoke at an event presented by Chicago Public Library earlier this month. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/don-delillo-conversation-donna-seaman-103278">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 27 Oct 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/novelist-don-delillo-sometimes-single-picture-worth-more-thousand-words-103459 One hundred years of Poetry http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/one-hundred-years-poetry-102926 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F63640862&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;color=ffe12b" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>This month marks the 100th birthday of <em>Poetry</em> magazine. It was founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe.</p><p>Monroe was born in 1860. The daughter of a prominent Chicago lawyer, she was a lonely child, and devoured the books in her father&rsquo;s library. She became determined to pursue a literary career.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10-15--H.Monroe%201920.jpg" style="height: 325px; width: 214px; float: left;" title="Harriet Monroe ('Vanity Fair', August 1920)" /></div><p>Her first poem was published in 1888, and over the next two decades Monroe established herself as a poet. She also served as an art and drama critic for various newspapers. Besides volumes of verse, she wrote a memoir of her late brother-in-law, architect John Wellborn Root.</p><p>Writing poetry is not a lucrative profession. A hundred years ago things were even worse. The few publications that accepted verse didn&rsquo;t pay much, if they paid anything at all. And even after the work was printed, the poet was often stalled off with those immortal words, &ldquo;The check is in the mail.&rdquo;</p><p>Monroe&rsquo;s idea was to publish a monthly magazine that would actually pay for whatever was accepted&mdash;at a fair rate, and in a timely manner. The magazine would also provide an outlet for the newer style of poetry that was starting to take shape.</p><p>In 1911 Monroe enlisted the aid of her friend Hobart Chatfield Chatfield-Taylor. Twenty years before, HCC-T had helped introduce golf to Chicago, and had wide contacts among the city&rsquo;s elite. Monroe asked him to round up a hundred wealthy people who&rsquo;d subscribe $50 each for a new poetry magazine to be established in Chicago.</p><p>HCC-T&rsquo;s friends came through with the necessary stake. Volume 1, Number 1 of <em>Poetry&mdash;A Magazine of Verse</em> rolled off the press in October 1912. The 32 pages of that first issue contained works by William Vaughn Moody, Grace Hazard Conkling, Ezra Pound, and others.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10-15--Poetry%20magazine_0.jpg" style="width: 226px; height: 324px; float: right;" title="The first issue of 'Poetry' (Wikipedia)" /></div></div><p>Critical reception to the new magazine was mixed. Midwesterners loved it. The effete East was more condescending. One Philadelphia paper titled its review &ldquo;Poetry in Porkopolis.&rdquo;</p><p>Monroe carried on. Her studio was at 543 North Cass Street (Wabash Avenue). Within a few months, one writer remembered, &ldquo;almost every transcontinental train disgorged a score or more of young hopefuls who walked from the station up Cass Street before breakfast to read their verses to Harriet.&rdquo; If Monroe couldn&rsquo;t buy all their work, she could at least give the disappointed ones a cup of hot chocolate.</p><p>But the ones that were published made the magazine a success. Monroe continued to edit <em>Poetry </em>until her death in Peru in 1936. At age 75, she&rsquo;d been on her way to climb Macchu Picchu.</p><p>Among the poets Monroe discovered was T.S. Eliot. Perhaps he summed it up best when he wrote, &ldquo;<em>Poetry</em> has had imitators, but has so far survived them all. It is an American institution.&rdquo;<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 16 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/one-hundred-years-poetry-102926 In praise of 'One Book, One Chicago' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/praise-one-book-one-chicago-102620 <p><p><img alt="" book="" chicago="" class="image-original_image" flickr="" in="" is="" latest="" one="" program="" selection="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/crimsong19.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left; " the="" title="" /></p><p>Fall is in the air. Trees are beginning to turn yellow and orange. Football season is in full swing. And, the mayor&rsquo;s office has just announced the fall selection for <em>One Book, One Chicago</em>:&nbsp;<em>The Book Thief</em> by award-winning Australian&nbsp;author Markus Zusak. The setting is World War II in Nazi Germany, and the story is of an orphan girl, Liesel Meminger, who finds friendship and love in a family who takes her in. Amidst the madness of the Nazi regime Liesel learns how words can be used to make life meaningful and worthwhile &mdash; or conversely, to create evil and darkness.</p><p>Since the inauguration of <em>One Book, One Chicago</em> in 2001 there have been 23 books offered to the public, usually in the fall and spring. I&#39;ve been uncomfotable with a few selections, mainly because I thought they were either too long, too arcane or too disconnected from the Chicago experience to interest a local audience. But overall, I have enjoyed the selections, and in fact, six of them are in my personal pantheon of favorite books! <em>To Kill A Mockingbird</em> by Harper Lee; <em>A Raisin in the Sun </em>by Lorraine Hansberry; <em>The Coast of Chicago</em> by Stuart Dybek; <em>One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich</em> by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; <em>Go Tell It on a Mountain</em> by James Baldwin; and, <em>The House on Mango Street</em> by Sandra Cisneros.</p><p>The purpose of <em>One Book, One Chicago</em> is not just to generate a list of worthwhile books. It&rsquo;s real purpose is to share ideas and encourage debate and dialogue through seminars and presentations. But for me the best part of it has been the innumerable spontaneous chats I&rsquo;ve had with fellow readers while riding the Green Line and the cups of coffee I&rsquo;ve had with colleagues while debating the nuances of the latest selection. And, the simple pleasure of simultaneously reading a book with my wife and sharing our impressions while on a leisurely walk or in the car.</p><p>Of course, the beauty of all books is that they take us out of ourselves, show us other parts of the world and introduce us to characters we might never otherwise meet. Good works, good ideas, good reads &mdash; it&#39;s truly a worthwhile personal and communal activity. As Groucho Marx once said: &ldquo;Outside of a dog, a book is a (person&rsquo;s) best friend. Inside of a dog, it&rsquo;s too dark to read!&rdquo;</p><p><em>WBEZ is a media sponsor of </em>One Book, One Chicago<em>. Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Thu, 27 Sep 2012 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/praise-one-book-one-chicago-102620 Courtesy of McSweeney's, Emily Dickinson in the age of Twitter http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-08/courtesy-mcsweeneys-emily-dickinson-age-twitter-101712 <p><p>I like to consider myself fairly well-educated but the fact of the matter is, I stink when it comes to Emily Dickinson. I&#39;ve read just about nothing by her. Fortunately, before I actually had to read her poetry with my precious own free time, along came Paul Legault&#39;s <a href="https://store.mcsweeneys.net/products/the-emily-dickinson-reader"><em>The Emily Dickinson Reader</em>, published by McSweeney&#39;</a>s. LeGault has bravely set out to interpret or transpose each of Dickinson&#39;s poems into one-line renderings. Legault introduces the <em>Reader </em>thusly:</p><blockquote><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Emily_Dickinson_Reader_lores copy.jpg" style="height: 210px; width: 150px; float: left; " title="" /><em>Born on December 10, 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Dickinson is both the father of American poetry and the most infamous lesbian vampire of the nineteenth century.</em></p><p><em>She wrote 1,789 poems in her lifetime, the bulk of which remained unpublished until her (supposed) death in 1886, when her younger sister Lavinia found them in a trunk. After escaping their Pandoran chamber, Dickinson&rsquo;s works emerged into the twentieth century like an apocalyptic army of angels made entirely of paper.</em></p><p><em>Emily Dickinson wrote in a language all her own, thus the need for this English version of what she meant. The translations presented here are my attempt to rewrite her poems (with their foreign beauty intact) in &ldquo;Standard English.&rdquo;</em></p></blockquote><p>With that said, please enjoy Paul Legault&#39;s takes on Dickinson&#39;s first 15 poems, reprinted here with permission from the author:</p><p style="text-align: center;">1. Everything has to love something.</p><p style="text-align: center;">2. Hey, really historically important people. Guess what? You&rsquo;re all dead.</p><p style="text-align: center;">3. Life is like a little boat on a sea of itself.</p><p style="text-align: center;">4. The arrival of spring is somewhat sexually charged.</p><p style="text-align:center;">5. I am in love with my brother&rsquo;s girlfriend. I am as fond of her as I am of my younger sister, though I do not want to have sex with my younger sister. My brother&rsquo;s girlfriend&rsquo;s name is Sue, and I want to have sex with her.</p><p style="text-align:center;">6. I&rsquo;m kind of like a little boat in the sea of life. Who wants to have sex with its brother&rsquo;s girlfriend.</p><p style="text-align:center;">7. If you&rsquo;re a flower, I&rsquo;m your zombie gardener.</p><p style="text-align:center;">8. Dig up my grave, would you? I&rsquo;m a zombie, and I&rsquo;ve got some flowers for you!</p><p style="text-align:center;">9. If today is opposite day, I&rsquo;m happy.</p><p style="text-align:center;">10. I could probably only be queen in a completely imaginary state. Otherwise, I don&rsquo;t think the country would do so well culturally or economically, because I would probably appoint plants, specifically roses, into key political and religious offices.</p><p style="text-align:center;">11. If you pick a rose, it can no longer access water and other vital nutrients that it needs to live.</p><p style="text-align:center;">12. I lost something that seems to be easily replaceable, but it is not easily replaceable.</p><p style="text-align:center;">13. I can&rsquo;t wait for this great time when things will really be great. I think this time probably won&rsquo;t occur until I&rsquo;m dead.</p><p style="text-align:center;">14. This really is too much.</p><p style="text-align:center;">15. I woke up this naked woman under a tree, and she was excited to see me. Unfortunately, her name was not Sue.</p></p> Wed, 15 Aug 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-08/courtesy-mcsweeneys-emily-dickinson-age-twitter-101712 Carl Sandburg in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-05/carl-sandburg-chicago-99336 <p><p><em>Hog Butcher for the World,</em></p><p><em>Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,</em></p><p><em>Player with Railroads and the Nation&rsquo;s Freight Handler;</em></p><p><em>Stormy, husky, brawling,</em></p><p><em>City of the Big Shoulders . . .</em></p><p>There was a time when every child in Chicago learned those words. They are the opening lines of Carl Sandburg&rsquo;s poem &ldquo;Chicago.&rdquo; The house where he wrote them still stands at 4646 North Hermitage Avenue.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-23--Sandburg%20Home.jpg" title="Chicago History Happened Here: 4646 N. Hermitage Ave." /></div><p>Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Ill. in 1878, the son of Swedish immigrants. As a young man, he drifted through a series of jobs&ndash;milkman, bricklayer, fireman, soldier, hobo, political organizer for the Social Democratic Party. Then he got married.</p><p>Time for stability. Sandburg moved to Chicago and became a reporter. He landed a job with the <em>Daily News</em>. He&rsquo;d been writing poetry for years, with little success. That began to change.</p><p>His collection <em>Chicago Poems</em> appeared in 1916. Another anthology followed, then a series of children&rsquo;s books. Sandburg was gaining a reputation. His publisher suggested he write a Lincoln biography for young people.</p><p>Sandburg did the research, and more research. In 1926 he emerged with <em>Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years</em>. The children&rsquo;s book had morphed into an adult book in two volumes.</p><p>The Lincoln book was a best-seller and ended Sandburg&rsquo;s financial worries. It also made him a literary lion. For the rest of his long life, he was as famous for being Carl Sandburg as for anything he wrote.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-23--Sandburg.jpg" style="float: left; height: 374px; width: 300px;" title="Carl Sandburg in 1955 (Library of Congress)" /></div><p>He moved to Michigan in 1930, and eventually settled in the hill country of North Carolina. The Lincoln biography grew to a total of six volumes, with the publication of <em>Abraham Lincoln: The War Years</em>. He won three Pulitzer prizes, two for poetry and one for the Lincoln books. In 1959 he even won a Grammy for his narration of Copeland&rsquo;s &ldquo;Lincoln Portrait.&rdquo;</p><p>The house on Hermitage was built in 1880 by attorney Samuel B. Gookins. Sandburg rented the second floor apartment from 1911 through 1914. He later lived in Maywood and in Elmhurst. The Carl Sandburg Home is an official Chicago Landmark. It is privately owned.</p><p>Though he lived elsewhere after 1930, Sandburg remained one of Chicago&rsquo;s favorite sons. In 1960 the city embarked on an urban renewal project in the Clark-Division area. The idea was to stabilize the west end of the Gold Coast with a series of high-rise apartments. They called the new buildings Sandburg Village.</p><p>Sandburg himself kept Chicago in his heart. He often returned to the city that made him famous. He appeared regularly on Irv Kupcinet&rsquo;s TV round-table. When Orland Park named a high school in his honor, Sandburg came to the dedication and had a grand time, telling stories and singing ballads.</p><p>He had been a workingman. He always cultivated the image of the people&rsquo;s poet, with rumpled clothing and unkempt hair. A few years after the dedication, he decided to revisit &ldquo;his&rdquo; high school. By then a different principal was in charge. The new man thought Sandburg was a panhandler and threw him out.</p><p>Carl Sandburg died in 1967. Some years earlier he had summed up his philosophy this way: &ldquo;What I need mainly is three things in life, possibly four&ndash;to be out of jail, to eat regular, to get what I write printed, and then a little love at home and a little outside.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 23 May 2012 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-05/carl-sandburg-chicago-99336