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June, 2000

SMA's 85th anniversary celebration May 9 at the Cliff Dwellers Club kicked off with actors from the New Millennium Theater Company appearing in the roles of George Ade, Vachel Lindsay and Carl Sandburg, reading from their works, just as they might have done at an early meeting of the Society.

Harry Mark Petrakis demonstrated his skill at story- telling, a skill that many would say makes him a great show all by himself.

This year's literary awards went to the following:
Adult Fiction--Plainsong by Kent Haruf. Alfred A. Knopf.
Adult Nonfiction--River Horse by William Least
Heat-Moon. Houghton Mifflin.
Biography--Lorca: A Dream of Life by Leslie Stainton. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Children's Fiction--Trapped Between the Lash and the Gun: A Boy's Journey by Arvella
Whitmore, Dial Books for Young Readers.
Children's Nonfiction
Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers by Patricia C.
McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack, Scholastic Press.
Algebra of Night: New and Selected Poems 1948-1998 by Willis Barnstone. The Sheep
Meadow Press.

A "lifetime of literary achievement award" was presented to Richard Frisbie in recognition of "years of dedicated service" to SMA. Author of seven books, he has served as president, vice- president, treasurer and all of SMA's various kinds of secretaries.

Judges also cited the excellence of these finalists in the various categories:
Adult Fiction
Personal Injuries by Scott Turow, Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
The Society of Friends by Kelly Cherry, University of Missouri Press.
Bad Jews and Other Storiesby Gerald Shapiro, Zoland Books.
Light in the Crossing by Kent Meyers, St. Martin's Press.
Adult Nonfiction
Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris, Riverhead Books.
Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier, Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Into the West: The Story of Its People by Walter Nugent, Alfred A. Knopf.
Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film by Jacquelyn Kilpatrick, University of
Nebraska Press.
Kerner: The Conflict of Intangible Rights by Bill Barnhart & Gene Schlickman, University
of Illinois Press.
Identity's Architect: Erik H. Erikson, by Lawrence J. Friedman, Simon & Schuster.
The Rooms of Heaven: A Story of Love, Death, Grief and the Afterlife, by Mary Allen,
Alfred A. Knopf.
Children's Fiction
Moonshine by Gary L. Blackwood, Marshall Cavendish
Slump by Dave Jarzyna, Delacorte Press.
Nobody Else Has to Know by Ingrid Tomey, Delacorte Press.
Don't Need Friends by Carolyn Crimi, Doubleday.
Children's Nonfiction
Dressed for the Occasion: What Americans Wore 1620-1970 by Brandon Marie Miller,
Lerner Publishing Group.
Civil Rights Pioneer: A Story About Mary Church Terrell by Gwenyth Swain, Lerner
Publishing Group.
A Dinosaur Named Sue: the Find of the Century by Fay Robinson, Scholastic.
Exactly What Happened by Joel Brouwer, Purdue University Press.

Last year's officers have agreed to continue in office for 2000-2001. They are:
President, Richard Lindberg.
Vice President, Carol Carlson.
Corresponding Secretary, Phyllis Ford Choyke.
Recording Secretary, Stella Pevsner.
Membership Secretary, Stuart Meck.
Treasurer, James C. Schwab.
Publications Editor, Richard Frisbie.
Webmaster, Ray Hanania.
New directors are George Bushnell, David Cowan, Robert Remer and R. Craig Sautter.

Bushnell is a travel writer and historian of Wilmette, Ill.

Cowan is the co-author (with John Kuenster) of the 1996 non-fiction book, To Sleep With the Angels: The Story of a Fire(Ivan R. Dee). He's also a full-time firefighter-paramedic in Bellwood, Ill.
He reports an unusual background, with degrees in both journalism and fire protection. "After college I spent five years as a reporter working in the Quad-Cities before leaving journalism to join the fire department in 1995. "My work has appeared in major magazines and news- papers, including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and U.S. Catholic. "Presently, I am working on a story collection and a history of significant Chicago fires, the latter to be published next spring by Lake Claremont Press. "I'm married to Ursula Bielski, a historian and folklorist who is author of three books:
Chicago Haunts (Volumes I and II) and Graveyards of Chicago.

Remer, former publisher of a Chicago book review journal, is chief financial officer of the Ambulatory and Community Health Network of Cook County. He is also on the adjunct faculty at Roosevelt University.

Sautter is the author or co- author of eight books, including Philadelphia Presidential Conventions.

Following a financial report showing that the Society's costs outstripped income by $2,506.16 in 1999-2000, the board of directors voted to raise dues from $25 to $35 for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The costs are attributable mainly to the banquet, including awards to winners, plaques and free dinners for award winners and their guests. But additional expenses have been incurred through the creation of new services for authors, including a presence at the Printers' Row Bookfair and the SMA website. It makes your schedule of book signings and appearances available world-wide. It also posts authors' resumes and links to personal websites. And the website serves as an on-line "speakers' bureau," publicizing authors' areas of expertise, so they can be contacted by news media and program organizers.

Ten SMA members took advantage of the SMA table at the Printers' Row Book Fair June 3 and 4 in Chicago to sell their own books to passers by.

Authors and their titles:
June Brindel, Ariadne.
Barbara Croft, Necessary Fictions and Primary Colors.
Mildred Johnson, Poems for Children of All Ages and If a Bird Can Sing.
Stella Pevsner, Is Everyone Moonburned But Me?
Robert Pruter, Doowop: The Chicago Scene.
R. Craig Sautter, Inside the Wigwam and Philadelphia Presidential Conventions.
Carol Spelius, How We Got Here From There.
Christine Swanberg, Tenderness of Memory.
David Walker, Ticket to Die For and Beer at a Bawdy House.
Mark Zubro, Drop Dead.

In a new approach to cope with the traffic problems that have been hurting attendance, the SMA board voted to start the programs at the Cliff Dwellers Club an hour later than previously. The social hour will run from 6 to 7 pm, with the program scheduled for 7 to 8:30.

Costs for the program, including hors d'oeuvres and wine, will be $10 for members and $15 for non-members. (As always, the programs are open to the public.)

Programs will begin on Oct. 10 and continue on the second Tuesday of each month, skipping December.

Next year's banquet will be held on May 8.

William Barnhart and Eugene Schlickman, co-authors of Kerner, the finalist in the biography category, have been booked for an appearance in our SMA series at the Barnes & Noble Webster Place store, for the evening of Wednesday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m.

Jane Smith, an SMA member from Evanston, appeared there June 14 as part of the series to read from her new comic novel, Fool's Gold.

We're still working on the Aug. 9 date.

The Barnes & Noble connection recently paid off for SMA in a tangible way. On May 10, the night after our annual awards dinner, the poetry winner, Willis Barnstone, read from his winning book, Algebra of Night: New and Selected Poems 1948-1998. To promote the event, Barnes & Noble provided coupons that split the proceeds from books sold to SMA members and friends with the Society. SMA members bought nearly $475 worth of books that night, and SMA has now received a check for our 15 percent commission.

By Richard Frisbie

There really was a Sherlock Holmes, and Eli Liebow has pictures to prove it. He showed them at the April 11 SMA meeting in the Cliff Dwellers Club. Liebow, a professor at Northeastern Illinois University, explained that Arthur Conan Doyle was powerfully impressed by one of his teachers while studying medicine in Edinburgh. Dr. Joseph Bell possessed amazing powers of close observation and deduction, which he used to diagnose patients. He usually knew their occupations and recent history without having to ask. There really was a Dr. Watson, too, a skillful surgeon who was able to amputate a diseased arm in eight minutes. Liebow thinks Doyle also used a teacher he didn't like as the model for the infamous Professor Moriarity. Liebow learned all this in the course of researching his book,Doctor Joe Bell: Model for Sherlock Holmes. He also collected portraits of many of the real people who surrounded Doyle during his student days and later figured one way or another in his Sherlock Holmes stories. Liebow said Doyle was a romantic who, in the fast- changing 1880s, recreated the "happy glow" of an earlier era when gentlemen were gentlemen and people's problems could be solved. That may be why in England today "Sherlock Holmes" still gets more mail than anyone
but Santa Claus.

By Barbara Schaaf

Body Count
Augie Aleksy has a trio of riveting programs for detective devotees at Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore, 743 Garfield, Oak Park. On June 17, at 2 pm there will be a discussion of The Criminalist by the late Eugene Izzi. On June 18 at 2 pm, the "Opinionated Critics" will tackle Carl Hiaasen's Lucky You! and Donald Westlake's Baby, Would I Lie? On July l at 12, Jeanne Dams will sign Red, White and Blue Murder, her second Hilda Johansson mystery set in fin de siecle South Bend.

Hoosier Politics
Throwing Chairs and Raising Hell: Politics in the Bulen Era is an eyewitness account of the conservative renaissance in Republican politics in Indiana from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.

Author Gordon Durnil knows whereof he speaks; he is the past chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, and was one of the organizers of the conservative resurgence.

Can't "Say It Ain't So"
SMA President Rich Lindberg put a spoke in the wheel of the juggernaut aimed at clearing the name of Shoeless Joe Jackson, who helped turn the Sox from White to Black in 1919.

Lindberg, author of the White Sox Encyclopedia, was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times on May 24, saying, "He took the money, bottom line." Despite powerful supporters, including members of Congress and Hollywood types, it appears that the commissioner of baseball will be unable to grant the popular demand to pardon Jackson because, as Lindberg pointed out, "This thing has just been, like many things today, based on sentiment rather than hard facts and analysis of the case."

Double-Header for Author
The Field Museum sponsored back-to-back programs by Kathleen Norris. Fans could attend readings from her short essays one evening, and come back the next morning to "Greet the Day," and enjoy a morning of meditation on the lake shore.

Norris's books include The Cloister Walk and Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (an SMA award winner when published).

Author-Parent Rocks On
We all know writers must sacrifice for their art, but in Kathy Stevenson's case, it seems like cruel and inhuman punishment. In "A Parent's Primer on Rock Concerts" (Chicago Tribune on April 9), she revealed that she actually attends rock concerts with her teenage children. Perhaps that is why she titled her collection of essays Second Thoughts.

Reviews the "Vision Thing"
Robert V. Remini, UIC history professor whose biography of Andrew Jackson set a standard, was a consultant on the much-praised PBS series "The American President." As quoted in the April 9 Chicago Sun-Times, Remini believes that regardless of their political allegiance or philosophy, the best presidents all share shared the same trait: a strong vision of America.

All Aboard
Glennette Tilley Turner was "Booked for Lunch," the Illinois State Library's seriesfeaturing Illinois writers. Tilley Turner is an expert on the rich history of the Underground Railroad, in which Illinois sites feature prominently.

Does He Still Have a Day Job?
Scott Turow participated in "Mangled at the Movies," an Authors Guild panel discussion on the pain and pleasure of dealing with Hollywood. Turow asserted that while he did not feel mangled, there were disappointments -- details in the Winter 2000 issue of the Authors Guild Bulletin. He also narrated "Through Their Eyes," a program about juvenile justice as part of WTTW's "Chicago Matters" series. And for something completely different, see the June Vanity Fair for "Embraceable You," Turow's article about the trends in male hugging.


Commencement Speaker
Gwendolyn Brooks, Pulitzer- prize winner and Illinois poet laureate, delivered the commencement address at the Chicago Academy for the Arts in the Cultural Center.

Writers Persevere
Two SMA members are among a small elite group who have belonged to the national Authors Guild for more than half a century. They are Jane Mayer and Phyllis A. Whitney. Mayer joined the Guild in 1943 on the strength of her first novel, Instruct My Sorrows. Whitney, a Guild member since 1947, is the author of more than 80 novels.

Finds Time for Jazz
Now president of the Tribune Publishing Company, Jack Fuller wrote jazz reviews as a "labor of love" in his previous job as editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. This led to his latest book, The Best of Jackson Payne, a novel centered on a fictional tenor saxman. Publishers Weekly called it "unflinching and searing," adding, "Fuller depicts Payne's demons and guardian angels, his desperation and inspiration, with pathos, compassion and seamy, reckless truths that will pull readers into this musical world."

Room for Humor
Stella Pevsner "offers another lighthearted look at the problems of adolescence and modern family life," saysBooklist. Is Everyone Moonburned But Me? is her 18th book. "Pevsner keeps her tone upbeat and her characters (especially the adults) sensible, leaving plenty of room for the humor she writes so well."

Meditates on Work
Al Gini, ever the cheerleader for other authors on WBEZ radio and at the SMA banquets, has a new book of his own: My Job My Self: Work and the Creation of the Modern Individual (Routledge). It's an "entertaining and thoughtful meditation on the nature of work in human life," says Publishers Weekly. Gini is a philosophy professor at Loyola University, Chicago. He's also co-founder and associate editor of the journal Business Ethics Quarterly. Studs Terkel, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Working,says, "Al Gini offers us a thoughtful and provocative book on the daunting subject of work. He has a salubrious style, so it's funny, too."

Remembering Carl Sandburg
Because the old Chicago Daily News was famed as a "writers' paper," it's not surprising that a number of SMA members worked there at one time or another. Daily News alumni have kept in touch with each other through the years since the paper ceased publication in the 1970s. The medium is a monthly newsletter written and edited by the retired city desk secretary, Margaret Whitesides. Beloved by generations of reporters for her soothing presence in the hectic newsroom ("an angel among devils," some have said), she was the guest of honor at a recent Daily News alumni annual reunion in the Como Inn. It was her 90thbirthday. Linking Daily News and SMA history, she recalled the day when, as a young secretary, her typewriter broke down. She saw a man come in with a small black bag that looked as if it might contain tools. She was about to put the "typewriter repairman" to work when her boss intervened by greeting Carl Sandburg, both a Daily News writer and an SMA member.

Update from Poet
Paulette Roeske writes: "Anvil, Clock, and Last, my third full-length collection of poems, will be published by Louisiana State University Press next year. This is my second collection with LSU. The first was Divine Attention, which won the Carl Sandburg Book Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the SMA Poetry Award." Her poems have appeared also in a number of current anthologies: Illinois Voices: An Anthology of 20th Century Poetry from Illinois, eds. Kevin Stein and G. E. Murray, University of Illinois Press, "Preparing the Dead" and "Trust." The Yellow Shoe Poets: A Millennium Anthology, ed. George Garrett, Louisiana State University Press, "The Body Can Ascend No Higher."\ Essential Love: Parent and Child, ed. Ginny Connors, Poetworks, a division of Grayson Books, "In Sympathy, My Daughter Sleeps Beside Me." Knowing Stones: Poems of Exotic Places, ed. Maureen Flannery, "The Body Can Ascend No Higher." She also has a poem, "Mary Wilson-Formerly-of-the- Supremes Sings Ooh-Baby Songs at the Nugget," in a special music issue of Crab Orchard Review, and has recently given readings at the University of Southern Indiana and the University of New Orleans.

Thanks for Contributions
SMA member Steven Burgauer and his wife, Debra, wish to thank the following authors who donated autographed books to the Silent Auction at the Sixth Annual Mid-America Book and Paper Fair held in Peoria, Ill.:
Mary Elizabeth Anderson, Raymond Benson, Kathleen Long Bostrom, Marlene Targ Brill,
Margery Frisbie, Valiska Gregory, Sue Harrison, Melvin G. Holli, Jim Lehrer, the late
Martin Litvin, David R. McLaren, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Sara Paretsky, Stella Pevsner,
Dorothy and Sidney Rosen, Susan Sussman, Scott Turow, Beverly Van Hook, Phyllis
Whitney and Mary Frances Zambreno.

The auction was a benefit for the book endowment sponsored by the Friends of Cullom-Davis Library at Bradley University.

Surprising Adventures
SMA members who think of Carol Spelius as the serene poet who also runs a literary press (Lake Shore Publishing), will be surprised by her new book, How We Got Here From There. Here's a description from one reviewer (Bill Brashler): "The Spelius clan is really an Olympic pentathlon team disguised as a family of six.. They jump out of helicoptors into snow drifts. They boat treacherous waters. They parachute from jet fighters over North Vietnam. "They raft and kayak, tend sheep, play classical piano and write poetry. How We Got Here From There is an adventure story that makes the Swiss family Robinson look like slackers. "I loved every page of this book and its whole avalanche of articles, essays, poems and horror stories." One of the adventures was a 3400-mile voyage from Fort Benton, Mont., to Cincinnati aboard a 19-foot motorboat. She commanded a crew consisting of her four children, ages two to 15. Carol's husband, Bill, was able to join the ship only near the end of the cruise, long after the exciting part on the turb- ulent Missouri River was over. When the children's pet snake escaped, it was replaced as ship's mascot with a monkey. The book was a finalist in this year's SMA competition.

Advice to the Young
Patrick T. Reardon, award-winning urban affairs and feature writer for the Chicago Tribune, has written a new book, Starting Out: Reflections for Young People. (ACTA Publications.)

Judges Audio Books
Carol Adorjan, herself a broadcast dramatist, and her son, John Adorjan, both served as judges for the Audie Awards held in conjunction with BookExpo in Chicago. John Adorjan is an audio engineer and creator of a variety of audio products. The Audie Awards, sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association of Manhattan Beach, Calif., recognize excellence in 28 categories of audiobooks.

Faithful Reader
Dorothy Haas writes, "I received a nice phone call several weeks ago. A man from North Carolina was looking for the author of his wife's favorite childhood book, Mimi the Merry-Go-Round Cat. Did I have a copy he might purchase? "Well, no. The book was published in 1958, three years after I graduated from college. There were a number of printings, but it was finally laid to rest. But I made a photocopy of it, signed it to `Lois,' and sent it off to her. "Hearing from a reader who loved one's book 40 years after its publication is a special author pleasure."

"Sense of Immediacy"
More nice words from Publishers Weekly, this time for Harriette Gillem Robinet's new book, Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues (Atheneum/Karl).
The book "lends a sense of immediacy" to the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956. "The novel is at its strongest when filling in historical details of the time, such as the volunteer taxi service for bus boycotters, and may well inspire readers (Ages 8-12) to discover more about this important chapter in civil rights history."

Mystery Encore
Susan Sussman has teamed up with Sarajane Avidon for another mystery, Cruising for Murder, just published by St. Martin's Press. Also, their previous joint venture, Audition for Murder, is now out in paperback.

Texas Mitigated
Jim Schwab is headed for Austin, Tex., June 21, to participate in a panel discussion of "Mitigation Planning: Making Sense of It All," at the Texas Association of State Floodplain Managers conference. Mitigation is the practice of finding ways to reduce exposure to damages and loss of life from natural hazards. A year ago, the American Planning Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency co-published Jim's five-year research project, Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction, widely regarded by disaster experts as a breakthrough work in this field.

Returns to Scene of Success
Richard Lindberg has signed a contract with Cumberland House for a sequel to one of his popular books. Return Again to the Scene of the Crime: A Guide to Even More Infamous Places in Chicago will be published in 2001. Its predecessor was number one among locally published books for months on the website.


Elmer Gertz
A noted lawyer who changed the face of justice in the U.S., Gertz died April 27 at the age of 93. He wrote more than a dozen books, including a memoir, To Life: The Story of a Chicago Lawyer. He gained parole for Nathan Leopold, overturned Jack Ruby's murder conviction, rescued Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer from government censorship and successfully suedthe John Birch Society. Legal experts said his most important case was winning a U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibiting the exclusion of jurors who oppose the death penalty.

Martin J. Litvin
Author of eight biographies, six novels and five other books, Litvin died Jan. 29 at 71. While his health permitted, he often came up on the train from his home at Wataga, Ill., near Galesburg, to attend SMA meetings in Chicago. He wrote a weekly column for the Galesburg Post for more than half a century. Many of his works involved notables of the Galesburg area, including the young Carl Sandburg. Jim Lehrer of PBS once called Litvin "one of the most natural storytellers I have ever encountered."

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