the time to read them...

Books I have read. More for me than for you, but I guess that depends on who you are. If you stalk me, than this will probably be more useful for you than me.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Never a City So Real

I enjoyed this, although there were some semi-boring sections. I must confess I have little interest in American labor history, so that section sort of bored me. I am reading a few of the Crown Journeys series, and I have to say I liked the Austin/Kinky Friedman one better. First, this book would be really bad if you were a tourist, but I felt the Austin version did give you a comprehensive city history as well as info about sights to see. While I found the author's personal history of his father-in-law a really compelling story, if you have never been to Chicago and were looking for places to visit, it would be completely useless.

Basically almost none of the places mentioned (Austin, Robert Taylor Homes, cemeteries, 26th Courthouse) are big tourist spots. In fact the great majority of them I would strongly suggest people NOT go to. And some don't exist anymore. Which I guess makes this a tourbook of a different kind--Alex Kotlowitz went so you don't have to!

In that respect I did like the book. The best chapter, in my opinion, was about the artist who paints murals in public housing apts. It read like a This American Life episode and included info on the Bud Billiken parade, which was interesting. I think this book gives a great introduction to the ethos of Chicago, but maybe not a great physical tour. I guess that is much like the Portland edition of this series. Both this book and the Portland one did make me all nostalgic, so if you are a resident or former resident this will probably make you feel good. It reminded me of the Algren quotation "Once you've become a part of this particular patch, you'll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies, but never a lovely so real." Which is both why I love Chicago, and why I never ever want to live there.

Next I hope to read the D.C. version, since it's a Chris Buckley book!


  • At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Vanessa said…

    That mural painting story just didn't read like a This American Life bit, it *was* on This American Life.

  • At 4:23 PM, Blogger triumphantly, jenny said…

    huh. perhaps they should hire ME! :)


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