POLITICAL EXPERT PERSEVERES WITH SIGNIFICANT SUBJECTS
By Richard Frisbie
Politics, as it affects government decisions, is one subject that impacts everyone's daily life as well
as the future of our children.
Nevertheless, writing about it makes one a "midlist" author, Steve Neal ruefully told the January
meeting of the Society at the Cliff Dwellers Club.
Big publishers don't give midlist authors much attention.
Neal, political editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, has published six books with a variety of publishers.
His current title is Rolling on the River: The Best of Steve Neal from Southern Illinois University Press.
University presses, he said, at least keep a book in print.
Of the 97 pieces in the book, about two-thirds deal with politics. The rest explore sports, film, pop
culture and other subjects. There's even an interview with Saul Bellow.
As a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Chicago Tribune as well as the Sun-Times, Neal
has interviewed all the recent presidents except Clinton.
He recalled an occasion when Ronald Reagan, eyeing the mob of press photographers and camera
crews, remarked, "I don't know how anyone not an actor could do this job."
Neal's already at work on a book about the relationship between Harry S Truman and Dwight D.
They exchanged many letters, although Truman was disappointed that Ike decided to run for
President in 1952 as a Republican instead of a Democrat.
As a result of the appeal in the latest issue to send in old dinner programs to help rebuild the SMA
archives, Rich Lindberg has been able to extend the list of past award winners by one more year.
A member sent in a dinner program from 1979. Lindberg requests that anyone else who has old dinner programs, invitations and other items
bearing on SMA history send them (or copies) to him at 5915 N. Navarre Ave., Chicago, IL 60631.
NOW'S THE TIME TO NOMINATE NEW MEMBERS
If you're a writer, you probably know other authors who have not previously been nominated for
membership in the Society of Midland Authors.
Residence in one of the 12 Midwestern states
Author of a book published by a recognized publisher and demonstrating "literary style."
Or author of a play that has been given a professional production.
Send nominations to Lindberg at the address above. Include address and phone number of
nominee and titles of books and/or plays.
By Barbara Schaaf
85 Candles on Cake? Have the Fire Extinguisher Ready
Richard Frisbie's elegant tribute to the Midland Authors on the occasion of the Society's 85th
anniversary appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times Book Week on Jan. 23, 2000.
Headlined 'A Writerly Sense of Self,' Richard's piece neatly juxtaposed a recent meeting featuring
Scott Turow and Jacquelyn Mitchard with the founding writers, such luminaries as George Ade, Edna
Ferber, Hamlin Garland, Vachel Lindsay and Harriet Monroe.
He dealt deftly with the still prevailing attitude that there is little literary life 'west of Niagara Falls'
and with the love-hate relationship between midland authors and New York City.
Speaking of New York, the Times sat up and took notice of Bruce Gans in a Jan. 18, 2000 article
entitled, 'After Bitter Campus Battles, the 'Great Books' Rise Again.' The reporter seemed surprised
that the resurgence came at Wright College 'not Oxford or Harvard or the University of Chicago.'
Gans played a major role in setting up the popular new (in its second year) program, in which 900
Students ' described as the type 'not ready for four-year institutions' ' may earn a minor or
certificate after completing a concentration of courses. Ironically, the rise of special ethnic, women's
and gender studies (some of whose proponents clearly see efforts by Gans and his colleagues to
resuscitate such scholarship as a revolting redevelopment) paved the way for the revival of what just
ten years ago was deemed too 'Eurocentric and sexist.'
As Gans put it, 'I wanted these kids to have a certificate where they could go to a four-year institu-
tion and say: 'When I was at Wright College, I read the best that was thought and said. I learned
about Thucydides, Schopenhauer, Plato, Mill, Aristophanes, Kant.'
For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
Congrats to Wendell Mayo, the only Ohioan to receive a Creative Writing Fellowship from the
National Endowment for the Arts in 1999.
Wendell has three short-story collections in print. The first collection, Centaur of the North, is in its
second edition from Arte Publico Press, and won the Adtlan Prize in 1996. B. Horror and Other
Stories (Livingston Press) and In Lithuanian Wood (White Pine Press) are also available.
Martin Litvin has donated the material he amassed for his biography of Meyer Levin (see Literary
License for January, 2000) to the Rare Book Room at the University of Illinois Library.
It seems only fitting that this body of information should be in a collection that also features
documents concerning such midland writers as Carl Sandburg and James Jones.
In February, Hyde Parker Martha Modena Vertreace was the latest author to appear at Barnes &
Noble's Webster Place establishment in a continuing series of programs co-sponsored by the SMA and
B&N. SMA board member Vertreace's latest poetry collection, Dragon Lady, was released in late
December, 1999 by Riverstone Poetry Press of West Chester, Pa.
Among the ten books on her publication list are Smokeless Flame (Frith Press), Light Cot Bending
and Second Mourning (both from Scotland's Die Hard Publishers).
OTHER MEMBER NEWS
Clip, Clip Hurray
Mel Holli is reveling in public attention for his latest books. Regarding The American Mayor: the
Best and Worst Big-City Leaders, his publisher, Penn State Press, reports "notice in major publica-
tions nationwide," plus numerous radio and TV station interviews.
Another book, A View From Chicago's City Hall: Midcentury to Millennium, co-authored with Paul M.
Green, was summarized this way by the Chicago Tribune: "Charming book of 200 black-and-white
photographs with detailed, colorful captions."
"Compelling and Serpentine"
A Beer at a Bawdy House is the title of David J. Walker's new mystery from St. Martin's.
"Compelling and enjoyable," says Publishers Weekly, with "well-drawn characters, serpentine plots
and atmospheric settings."
High Old Times
Helen Reichert Lambin had an article on senior travel in the Sunday travel section of the Chicago
Tribune on Jan. 16.
Melody Lingers On
Forthcoming from Heraclitus Press is Bernard Brindel: Who Wore at His Heart the Fire's Center, a
biography of the composer, music teacher and choral conductor who died in 1997. It's an appraisal of
his music and his teaching expertise, and testimony to his capacity for goodness and ability to inspire
it in others.
The book is a collection of comments, anecdotes and critiques from 120 colleagues, students,
friends and relatives, varying from well-known figures like Studs Terkel, a life-long friend, to an
obscure Italian woman who knew him for a few hours on a train.
SMA member June Rachuy Brindel, author of Ariadne, Phaedra and Nobody Is Ever Missing, wrote
the biographical material and also co-edited the book with Wilbur Zelinsky, a geographer and former
violin student of and another lifelong friend of Bernard Brindel.
All proceeds from sale of this book will be used to support the publication, performance and
recording of Bernard Brindel's music.
Making a Scene
Mary Edsey, SMA board member, has been one of the leaders in an effort to preserve the Davis
Theater on Chicago's Northwest Side.
The theater (formerly the Pershing) has showing movies at 4614 N. Lincoln Ave. since 1918. Re-
cently, it has been offering second-run films on four screens.
"Our goal is to keep (in the neighborhood) family entertainment that's affordable," Edsey told the
Lerner News-Star. In a gentrifying area, the theater building is in danger of being turned into condominiums. (Mary
Edsey: 773/404-9402, email@example.com).
Marine Historian on Web
Bruce Felknor is now host of the history page of the U.S. Merchant Marine website: www.usmm.org.
Barbara Croft of Oak Park, Ill., author of Necessary Fictions (University of Pittsburgh Press) and
Primary Colors and Other Stories (New Rivers Press).
Eli Liebow of Highland Park, Ill., is a professor at Northeastern Illinois University. His books
include Dr. Joseph Bell: Model for Sherlock Holmes (Popular Press), Write It Right (Johnson Publishers)
and Age: A Work of Art (Alan & Bacon). See April program announcement.
FINAL CHAPTERSnewsletter index
top of page
Gudrun Alcock, an active SMA board member until recently, died Jan. 9 at age 91. She was the
author of four children's books, Dooley's Lion; Run, Westy, Run; Turn the Next Corner, and Duffy.
Her career also included stints as a women's section editor for the Chicago Examiner, a long-gone
daily; a commercial layout artist for Marshall Field's and an advertising layout instructor at North-