On Beyond the Devil in the White City

March 4, 2016

“If you’ve ever been trapped in a refrigerator only to have the door flung open just before you black out, you have some sense of what Chicago spring feels like.” – Contrary Motion by Andy Mozina

Happy Chicago Incorporation Day!

Yes, on this date in history (March 4, 1837) Chicago was officially incorporated as a city.  Break out the deep dish pizza and don’t skimp on the hot dogs.

To celebrate this momentous occasion I present to you a plethora of the latest Chicago-related titles.  Whether they are written about Chicago, set in Chicago, or contain a mere souciant of Chicago-esque caperings these are the books you should be reading.  Some of these are so new they aren’t even in our catalog yet (but they will be).

Chicago by Brian Doyle


Library Journal called this book “luminous”.  Kirkus said, “The quiet introspection and cleareyed focus on a vibrant and powerful American city makes Doyle’s (Martin Marten, 2015, etc.) paean to Chicago a literary jewel.” Set at the end of a 1970s summer, the book follows a young man as he moves into an apartment on the north side of the city.  Says the description, “A love letter to Chicago, the Great American City, and a wry account of a young man’s coming-of-age during the one summer in White Sox history when they had the best outfield in baseball,Chicago is a novel that will plunge you into a city you will never forget, and may well wish to visit for the rest of your days.”  On shelves March 29th.  Place it on hold here.

Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography by John Gruber


This one’s pretty neat.  So back in 1942 the Office of War information needed photographs of U.S. railroad operations. Where did photographer Jack Delano head?  To Chicago, of course.  Talk about a rail center!  Here we have 70 of his photos and they are fantastic.  This is more than just a gift book.  It’s a slice of doggone history. Place it on hold here.

Beverly by Nick Drnaso


Chris Ware isn’t the only Chicago-based graphic novelist to grace the comic scene.  Behold Drnaso in all his sexual anxiety wrought glory.  Or, rather, his characters’.  Here’s a cheery description of the book: “Again and again, the civilized façade of Drnaso’s pitch-perfect surburban sprawl and pasty Midwestern protagonists cracks in the face of violence and quiet brutality. Drnaso’s bleak social satire in Beverly reveals a brilliant command of the social milieu of twenty-first-century existence, echoing the black comic work of Todd Solondz, Sam Lipsyte, and Daniel Clowes.” Fun!

The House That Made Me: Writers Reflect on the Places and People That Defined Them by Grant Jarrett


This one’s not out until April but it has a nice hook.  Writers use Google Earth to look down on their childhood homes.  Two in particular, Jeffery Renard Allen and Pamela Erens, return to Chicago’s North Side and South Side, respectively.  As you might imagine, their memories are awfully different, but both represent an authentic Chicago experience. Place your hold on the book here.

The Insane Chicago Way: The Daring Plan by Chicago Gangs to Create a Spanish Mafia by John Hagedorn


Great title, yes?  Here’s the description: “Revealing the hidden and riveting stories of Chicago gangs’ efforts to build structures ostensibly to reduce violence and to organize crime, of the integration of gang and mafia history, and of the central role of police corruption in Chicago’s gangland,The In$ane Chicago Way makes a powerful argument for the need to regard corruption as the bedrock of gang power. It dispels the notion that gang violence can be explained solely by ecological, neighborhood-based processes and sheds light on the current gang situation in Chicago by laying bare its history while raising disturbing questions for researchers, policy-makers, and the public.” Place it on hold here.


The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America

by Ethan Michaeli


I’m including this one, but just to warn you it is incredibly popular right now.  I should buy more copies.  In any case, the title pretty much says it all.  Not only is The Defender the largest and most influential black-owned newspaper in America, it’s also Chicago-based.  The book received copious stellar reviews.  Amazing stuff. Place it on hold (and be prepared to wait) here.



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