"MIDLAND AUTHORS DAY" IN CHICAGO HONORS 90TH ANNIVERSARYAWARD WINNERS
Standing at the rostrum behind a waist-high enlargement of a proclamation by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, outgoing SMA President R. Craig Sautter introduced SMA's 90th anniversary ceremonies by calling attention to some historical highlights (summarized elsewhere in this issue).
Mayor Daley proclaimed "May 10, 2005, to be the Society of Midland Authors Day in Chicago, and (I) encourage all Chicagoans to be aware of the important contributions of its authors."
The 90th anniversary dinner in the Chicago Athletic Association attracted the largest attendance of recent years.
Awards were presented for the best books of 2004 written by Midwest authors, not necessarily SMA members.
Two of the award-winners, Katherine Hannigan (children's fiction) and Joan Reardon (biography finalist), expressed the same thought: special gratitude for awards from fellow writers.
Andrea Warren, picking up her third SMA children's non-fiction award, said she has specialized through five books in trying to tell the stories of important events through the eyes of a particular child.
For the latest, she found a young emergency room doctor in Indiana who had been an Amerasian orphan rescued from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War by Operation Babylift ordered by President Gerald Ford.
The story of this boy, "smart, self-reliant, willing to help others" and someone who never gave up, has inspired her in her personal life.
Although her husband has a serious illness, "we haven't given up" either, she said.
The speaker of the evening, Richard Norton Smith, promised to pass on this story to ex-President Ford, whose Presidential library he formerly directed.
Smith, executive director of the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, entertained the audience with anecdotes from his experiences writing biographies of George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover, Thomas E. Dewey and Col. Robert R. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune.
Writing biography to "put a human face on events" and "grope toward something approximating truth" is humbling, he said.
He recalled an incident from 25 years ago, when he was working on the Dewey book.
Ushered into the presence of David Rockefeller "while a minion was taping me taping Rockefeller," Smith tried to begin with a bit of small talk about a photo on the desk.
"Is that President Hoover?" Smith asked. "No," Rockefeller said frostily. "That's Father."
Smith's current project is a biography of Nelson Rockefeller.
Adult Fiction Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
Adult Nonfiction Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle (Henry Holt).
Biography Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of The Birds of America by William Souder (North Point Press ).
Children's Fiction Ida B:
and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan (Greenwillow Books/ HarperCollins Children's Books).
Children's Nonfiction Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy by Andrea Warren (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
Poetry Delights and Shadows by Ted Kooser (Copper Canyon Press).
James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism Eric Arnesen, Professor and Chair, Department of History, University of Illinois at Chicago, for distinguished literary criticism in the Chicago Tribune.
Adult Fiction Bring Your Legs with You by Darrell Spencer (University of Pittsburgh Press); The Real Minerva by Mary Sharratt (Houghton Mifflin).
. Adult Nonfiction Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution by Laurent Dubois (Belknap Press/Harvard University Press); Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry by Carl Phillips (Graywolf Press), and The Story of Reo Joe: Work, Kin, and Community in Autotown, U.S.A by Lisa M. Fine (Temple University Press).
Biography In Gatsby's Shadow: The Story of Charles Macomb Flandrau by Larry Haeg (University of Iowa Press) and Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher by Joan Reardon (North Point Press).
SMA'S FIRST 90 YEARS: NOTES FROM THE ARCHIVES
By R. Craig Sautter
SMA began when John M. Stahl, a Chicago insurance company president and author of six books, hosted a dinner in the Auditorium Hotel on Nov. 28, 1914, to call for a new authors' group in Chicago.
Hamlin Garland, of Wisconsin, best remembered for Daughter of the Middle Border, which won the 1922 Pulitzer Prize for biography, argued instead for a society of authors "north of the Ohio river, from the Alleghenies to the Rockies." Garland swayed the crowd and was unanimously named president.
But before SMA's first official dinner in April 1915, Garland headed off to New York to pursue his career and instead became one of SMA's first vice presidents. In those early years, all 12 midland states had their own SMA vice president. John M. Stahl later became SMA's fifth president, serving from 1920 to 1922.
At the first SMA banquet on April 23, 1915, Hobart Chatfield-Taylor, of Lake Forest, was unanimously named our first official president. Chatfield-Taylor was co-founder of a national magazine called America that first published, among other things, Eugene Field's "Little Boy Blue." Hobart Chatfield-Taylor didn't like the word "Midwest," so we became the Society of Midland Authors.
SMA's first honorary president was the Indiana folk poet James Whitcomb Riley, who was so revered that when he died a year after SMA was established, all the schools in his home state shut down out of respect. Riley's name remained on top of SMA's stationary for several years afterwards.
One of SMA's original 55 founding members was Harriet Monroe, the feisty publisher of Poetry magazine, established two years earlier. Monroe would serve as SMA's president in 1925 and 1926.
Other founders included:
Wisconsin novelist Zona Gale, author of Miss Lulu Bett, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1921.
Edna Ferber, author of So Big, which won the 1924 Pulitzer for fiction and Showboat, which won it in 1926.
Margaret Ayer Barnes, whose first novel, Years of Grace, won the 1931 fiction Pulitzer. Barnes served as a SMA president in 1931 and 1932.
Kansas newspaper editor William Allen White, who won the 1947 Pulitzer for his autobiography.
Chicago playwright Kenneth Sawyer Goodman, who died three years later in the influenza epidemic of World War I, but whose legacy lives on in the theater dedicated to him.
Chicago newsman George Ade, author of the popular column and book, Fables in Slang.
Founder of the "Chicago Little Theater," the first experimental theater in the United States, Maurice Browne, who went on to become a big producer for the London stage and the owner of six major London theaters.
The Little Theater's experimental playwright, Alice Gerstenberg, who served as a SMA's sixth president from 1922 to 1924.
Arthur Davison Ficke, who had the first poem published in the first issue of Poetry magazine.
Illinois performance poet Vachel Lindsay.
Clarence Darrow, author of An Eye for an Eye.
SMA immediately attracted new members, including: Carl Sandburg, a future three-time Pulitzer winner in poetry and history; the great novelist Sherwood Anderson; Edgar Lee Masters, Clarence Darrow's early law partner and the author of the best-selling book of poetry in U.S. history, Spoon River Anthology.
(Years later, Master's daughter Marcia, also a poet, joined as well.)
The Nobel Peace Laureate, Jane Addams, author of My Twenty Years At Hull House, became an early member. Yet another Nobel Laureate, University of Chicago physics professor Albert A. Michelson, of the famous Michelson/Morley light experiment, was also a proud SMA member.
Other early members included: the German-American philosopher Paul Carus; Indiana author Gene Stratton Porter, whose sentimental novel Freckles sold two million copies;
Louis Bromfield, the 1927 Pulitzer winner for his novel Early Autumn; the 1932 Pulitzer poetry winner, George Dillion, post-Monroe editor of Poetry magazine; Chicago Tribune publisher, Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick; the Tribune's book-reviewer of nearly 50 years Fanny Butcher; and Chicago Sun-Times publisher Marshall Field.
These names represent only the early years. In later years, U. S. Senator Arthur Vandenberg, a Republican from Michigan, who was mentioned as a candidate for President in 1948, and Democratic Senator Paul Simon, of Illinois, who ran for President in 1988, were both SMA members.
Vandenberg, recruited by Fanny Butcher, served as a SMA vice president in 1934 and 1935. Senator Simon was our 2002 Banquet speaker.
SMA can count even a former President of the United States among our members: Herbert Clark Hoover, of West Branch, Iowa, joined SMA in 1962, listing his residence as the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.
From those first 55 founding members in 1915, the Society of Midland Authors has grown to over 380 members in good standing 90 years later.
Over all these 90 years, SMA has been holding regular meetings, bringing authors of the Midland together, promoting collegiality and recognition for our members and their books, and sharing speakers with the public.
Hundreds of esteemed authors of the Midland, as dues-paying members, have participated in our professional and social life while their books have made contributions to our intellectual heritage, our artistic and culture vitality, and to our specialized knowledge.
ARCHIVE MATERIALS WANTED
Do you have old SMA Banquet Programs, Membership Directories, photos or other materials worth saving? What about extra copies of your old and new books? Place them all in the SMA Archives, maintained at the UIC Daley Library's Special Collection.
Send your material to R. Craig Sautter, 7658 N. Rogers Avenue, Chicago 60626 for safe delivery.
NO SURPRISES IN SMA'S ANNUAL ELECTION
As usual, new officers and directors were named in SMA's annual election with no dissenting votes.
President, Thomas Frisbie; Vice President, James L. Merriner; Corresponding Secretary, Phyllis Choyke; Membership Secretary (office temporarily unfilled because Tom Frisbie will continue overseeing the SMA database); Recording Secretary, Marlene Targ Brill; Treasurer, Robert Remer.
Directors for 2005-2008: Mark Eleveld, Cheryl L. Reed, James C. Schwab (who will serve also as Program Chairman).
Director through 2006 (to fill unexpired term): Robert Loerzel.
Director through 2007 (to fill unexpired term): Carol Jean Carlson.
Directors continuing on Board: through 2007, Arnie Bernstein and Richard C. Lindberg; through 2006, Bernard J. Brommel and Dorothy Haas.
As Immediate Past President, R. Craig Sautter also remains a member of the board.
Mary Claire Hersh continues as Web Master and Richard Frisbie as Publications Chairman.
SMA gratefully acknowledges gifts received too late to mention in the 90th anniversary dinner program from the following:
Shirley Haas and Marietta Marcin and Jules Steinberg.
MEDIA TRAINING 101: GETTING READY TO SPEAK TO THE MEDIA ABOUT YOUR BOOK
By Tom Ciesielka
TC Public Relations
What's the difference between a good and a bad media interview? About four hours.
That's because no matter how well you know your book and how expert you are on a topic, it still requires research, practice, more practice, more practice and
(I trust you get the point).
Some authors tell me, "I've spoken about my book plenty of times at meetings and book signings, so I'll just show up for the interview." That's the wrong attitude. The key question to consider is how much experience you've had describing your book in three minutes in front of a live television audience.
To help you prepare, here are a few tips:
1. Research the media outlet: Whether it's print, radio or television, be sure to learn about the person who will be interviewing you. Often you'll get insight into what the person likes to do with an author interview.
Remember, the better the journalist the more "hard ball" questions you might get. So if you see previous author interviews including uncomfortable personal questions, be ready to respond to those types of inquiries.
2. Rehearse your interview: Write out 10 questions you think a journalist might ask you. Have someone ask you those questions, and then ask follow-up questions you are not expecting. The goal is to become comfortable with responding to questions and to avoid appearing like you've prepared "canned" responses.
3. Videotape your mock interviews: Look at your posture, the clothes you are wearing, even hand gestures. Remember television is a visual medium, so nobody can see into your brain to tell how smart you are. The only thing the audience can see is how well you carry yourself and whether you know how to dress properly.
4. Ask the producer what makes a good interview: If you did your homework, you should know what is likely to be required of you. However, if you are on a radio or television program, usually there is a producer scheduling your interview. All you need to do is ask one simple question, "What can I do to make this a better interview?" Doing that will put you way ahead of the game. First, it shows respect for the producer and second, you might pick up a clue to what you need to change to be more effective on the show.
Next month's tip: Writing Radio Interview Questions for Your Book.
CRITIC REVIEWS HISTORY
OF THEATER IN CHICAGO
By Richard Frisbie
In Chicago, if a store front or a bowling alley or a saloon goes vacant, someone is likely to open a live theater in the space. That has more or less been the history of Chicago since the founding of the city, according to Richard Christiansen, speaking at the April 12 SMA meeting in the Chicago Athletic Association.
Christiansen, retired chief critic of the Chicago Tribune, spent a year and a half researching and writing A Theater of Our Own: A History of 1,001 Nights in Chicago.
He began his comprehensive history with 1837, when Chicago was incorporated and a troupe of professional actors came to town and took over the abandoned Sauganash Hotel to construct a 200-seat (planks, actually) theater in the former dining room. They presented a season of melodramas, comedies and musical variety nightly.
As the city grew, many of its newspaper writers became playwrights. Chicago audiences liked plays set in their hometown.
In his book, Christiansen tells of John Blake Rice, an actor from New York, who in 1847 opened the first theater built for that purpose. He produced Shakespeare as well as popular plays of the time and even staged Chicago's first opera, La Sonnambula.
Rice later served two terms as mayor of Chicago, which was a boon to the theatrical community.
Although many of the shows in big theaters such as the Auditorium were touring productions from the East, by 1902, a homegrown musical version of The Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum, a former Chicago newspaperman, enjoyed a long run in Chicago, then moved on to become a hit on Broadwaylike many later famous plays that originated here.
The Chicago Little Theater, operated from 1912 to 1917 by Maurice Brown and his wife, Ellen Van Volkenberg, attracted international attention for its productions of Ibsen, Shaw and Greek classics like Elektra and Medea. Acting on advice from Lady Gregory of the Abbey Theater in Dublin, they trained their own actors rather than importing "spoiled" professionals.
Christiansen chuckled over the story of Samuel Eberly Gross, a successful real estate developer who wrote an 1895 play, The Merchant Prince of Cornville. Although it was badly written, its plot resembled that of Cyrano de Bergerac. Gross sued and won, but settled for damages of one dollar, satisfied to have made his point. Sarah Bernhardt said it must have been April Fools' Day in Chicago. Edmond Rostand, author of Cyrano, shrugged: "The world is full of big noses."
After the 1903 Iroquois Theater fire killed more than 600 people, mostly women and children, the city belatedly adopted regulations that later would make it difficult for impresarios trying to launch theaters in converted basements and lofts.
But eventually adjustments were made to regulations originally aimed at large auditoriums with proscenium arches (although the Chicago Fire Department did at one point close down the creative Playwrights Theater Club). Then production costs in New York began to greatly outstrip those in Chicago.
Meanwhile, the Second City was starting up and Playwrights Theater was succeeded by the Compass, "proving home-crafted theater could prosper" in Chicago, Christiansen said.
Christiansen repeated a popular remark in theatrical circles: "You can't find fame and fortune here but you can find work."
The number of now-famous names in the theater who got their start here is too large to list.
R. Craig Sautter, SMA president, set the tone for the evening with tribute to Kenneth Sawyer Goodman, a young playwright who worked after hours with Ben Hecht to craft "practical little plays." Goodman hoped to establish a theater that would be free for the poor. After he died in the 1918 flu epidemic, his wealthy parents built the Goodman Theater in his memory.
RECENT NEW MEMBERS
By Thomas Frisbie
Larry Axelrood, a former Cook County prosecutor, practices law in Chicago. He is a graduate of Indiana University and Chicago Kent College of Law. He is author of The Advocate, Plea Bargain and Death Eligible, all published by Cumberland House.
Thomas Laird, who lives in Metamora, Ill., teaches English and creative writing at Peoria Notre Dame High School. He is author of Cutter (his first novel), Black Dog and Season of the Assassin. In reviewing Black Dog, Publishers Weekly wrote: "Laird knows how to jack up the suspense."
Janet Riehecky is a full-time freelance writer for children. She has published more than 90 books of fiction and nonfiction. Her 24-volume series, Dinosaurs!, won the Summit Award for Best Children's Nonfiction, and her Red Door Detective Club Mystery Series is popular with intermediate readers.
She has a B.A. in English from Illinois Wesleyan University, an M.A. in communication from Illinois State University, and an M.A. in English literature from Northwestern University.
Raymond Bial, a library director at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., has published more than 25 books of photos and photo essays.
Herbert Erlbach co-authored four books with SMA member Arlene Erlbach.
John Graf is author of Chicago's Monuments, Markers and Memorials, Chicago's Parks and Chicago's Mansions.
John Litweiler is a music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. He has been a director of the Jazz Institute of Chicago and a Down Beat staff reviewer.
He wrote the first full-length biography of jazz innovator Ornette Coleman. He also is author of The Freedom of Principle: Jazz After 1958.
When Zakes Mda was just 13, he published his first short story in his mother tongue, Xhosa. Soon afterward his family fled South Africa in exile to Lesotho, and he began writing in English.
After penning some 30 plays in as many years, he started to write novels about the politics of race, sex and place after the collapse of apartheid.
During the first decade of his country's democracy, Mda won all the major literary prizes there.
In 1978, Mda's play We Shall Sing for the Fatherland, written in 1973, won the first Amstel Playwright of the Year Award. The following year he won this award again with The Hill, a play written in 1978.
The publication of the plays gained him admission to Ohio University for a three-year master's degree in theater.
His first volume of poems, Bits of Debris, came out in 1986. His novel The Heart of Redress (Picador) was published in 2000.
Michelle True founded and operates Poetic License Writers Group, which meets monthly at the Indian Trails Library in Wheeling, Ill. She also founded and operates an online poetry e-zine, True Poet Magazine (http://www.truepoetmagazine.com/).
As poetry editor for The Professional Authors Newsletter, she writes a column called "The Published Poet" in which she provides publishing, marketing and other tips for poets.
Charles Wheelan is Chicago correspondent for The Economist, and a lecturer at the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. He is author of Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (Norton, 2002).
Charles N. Billington is author of Wrigley Field's Last World Series. Billington is a licensed clinical social worker with 30 years of experience in mental health. After graduating from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., he received his master's degree from the University of Illinois in Chicago.
He has worked as an administrator, psychotherapist and consultant. Most recently he has worked with the elderly.
A three-sport athlete in high school who played baseball at the collegiate level, he combined his background in sports and his interest in history with his work with senior citizens to write about Wrigley Field's last World Series, the wartime Chicago Cubs and the pennant of 1945.
The fascinating recollections of two elderly baseball players who came to him for assistance became the inspiration for the work.
He grew up in the Chicago area and lives in the north suburbs with his wife of 25 years and two children. His hobbies include boating, playing the piano and playing outfield in the Chicago North Men's Senior Baseball League.
Celia Brickman received her Ph.D. in religion and the human sciences from the University of Chicago Divinity School, where her dissertation was awarded the University of Chicago's Colver Rosenberg Prize.
She is a clinical, faculty and research member of the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy of Chicago (Columbia, 2003). She is author of Aboriginal Populations in the Mind: Race and Primitivity in Psychoanalysis.
Jack D. Coombe was born in Baltic, Mich., received a B.A. from Northwestern and has done graduate work at Roosevelt University. He lives in Northbrook, Ill., with his wife, Peg.
He is author of Consider My Servant, Detailing the Tokyo Express, Gunsmoke over the Atlantic, The Temptation, Thunder Along the Mississippi: The River Battles that Split the Confederacy and Gunfire Around the Gulf.
He has been nominated for the Fletcher Pratt Award for Excellence in Civil War Literature.
Haki R. Madhubuti is a distinguished university professor, director of the master of fine arts program in creative writing at Chicago State University and director/founder emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing.
Over the years, he has published 24 books (some under his former name, Don L. Lee) and is one of the world's best-selling authors of poetry and nonfiction, with more than three million books in print.
He is author of Run Toward Fear: New Poems and a Poet's Handbook (2004); Tough Notes: A Healing Call For Creating Exceptional Black Men (2002); Heartlove: Wedding and Love Poems (Third World Press, 1998); Groundwork: New and Selected Poems 1966-1996 (1996); Claiming Earth: Race, Rage, Rape, Redemption (1994); Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous?; The African American Family in Transition (1990); Don't Cry; Earthquakes; Sunrise Missions; Kwanzaa; Confusion By Any Other Name; Why L.A. Happened, and other books.
He is founder, chairman and publisher of the Third World Press.
Robert Sutherland is author of a novel, Sticklewort and Feverfew (Pikestaff Press, 1980), and a scholarly work, Language and Lewis Carroll (De Gruyter, 1970).
He is a former linguistics and creative writing teacher at Illinois State University.
Mark Wakely is an administrator at Elmhurst College and resides in Lombard, Ill., with his wife and three children. He is author of An Audience for Einstein.
OTHER MEMBER NEWS
Cheryl Reed has been on the book-signing trail with her new paperback version of Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns.
Book Magnet for Awards
The Indiana State Library named How I Found the Strong (Houghton Mifflin 2004) by Margaret McMullan Best Children's Book .
How I Found the Strong also won the 2005 Fiction award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. Past winners include Walker Percy, Eudora Welty, Ellen Gilchrist, Richard Ford, Larry Brown, Rick Bass, Donna Tart and Barry Hannah.
How I Found the Strong was named a 2005 Notable Social Studies Book, voted a Great Book by the State of Maryland Book Consortium, named a Booklist Top Ten First Novel for Youth, and chosen Evansville (Ind.) First Youth Selection for the 2004 One Book/One Community reading program.
How I Found the Strong was also nominated for a 2005 Capital Choice Award in Washington, D.C., a 2005-06 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award in Vermont and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.
NPR Interviews Poet
Poet Linda Nemec Foster appeared April 27 on the nationwide broadcast of the public radio literary program New Letters on the Air.
Foster, the first Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Mich., talked about her books of poetry, including her most recent, Amber Necklace from Gdansk.
Foster discussed one of her earliest books, A History of the Body, that details her thoughts and emotions during her first pregnancy. Foster also mentioned her friendship with German-American writer and mentor, Lisel Mueller, and how she contributed to Foster's getting in touch with her Polish heritage and the lives of her ancestors under Nazi rule.
"It took me until my middle age to really understand the richness of that heritage and culture, and wanting to know more about it," said Foster.
"That's what led me to Poland for the first time in 1996, and I was just so amazed with what I saw, the people I met, the family that I never knew I had. Amber Necklace from Gdansk really is a by-product of that first trip."
She received the Pushcart Prize for poetry in 1984 and a National Writers' Voice Project Fellowship in 1999.
In Grand Rapids, she has been coordinator of the Contemporary Writer's Series at Aquinas College since 1997.
Golden Age of Radio
Chuck Schaden recently celebrated the 35th anniversary of his radio show, Those Were the Days, based on his collection of 50,000 recorded broadcasts from the "Golden Age of Radio," when families gathered round their Zeniths and Philcos to enjoy entertainment such as Jack Benny, the Lux Radio Theater, The Lone Ranger or Your Hit Parade.
Interviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times, Schaden said people still like to listen to the old shows every week because "they were good in the first place, and they wear their age well. Aside from some topical humor by a few comedians, the shows are as fresh as ever.
"Old-time radio shows are nostalgia for some of our audience, and they're an ear-opener for others who never knew or heard what radio was in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s."
More Honors for Dybek and Kooser
Honors keep rolling in for Stuart Dybek and Ted Kooser. The American Library Association's Notable Books for 2005 include Dybek's story collection, I Sailed with Magellan, and Kooser's poems, Delights and Shadows.
Both have been honored also by SMA.
The ALA selects a book "if it possesses exceptional literary merits, it expands the horizons of human knowledge, it makes a specialized body of knowledge accessible to the non-specialist or it promises to contribute significantly to the solution of a contemporary problem."
Kooser's publisher, Copper Canyon Press, is rejoicing over the orders that have been flooding in since he won the Pulitzer Prize. After six printings, there are 50,000 copies of Delights & Shadows in print, which "surpasses everything we've done."
"Best Suspense Thriller"
Michael Allen Dymmoch's The Fall won the Love is Murder People's Choice Award as "best suspense thriller." She conducted a workshop on "Sharpening Your Points of View" as part of the Of Dark and Stormy Nights XXIII conclave sponsored by the Midwest Chapter of Mystery Writers of America June 11 in Schaumburg, Ill.
James T. Farrell Gets His Way
Ellen Skerrett and Ron Offen, who led the charge to get recognition for the centenary of Chicago novelist James T. Farrell, have succeeded in getting the city to commemorate the 5700 block of South Indiana Ave. as James T. Farrell Way. The creator of the Studs Lonegan and Danny O'Neill books lived there from 1915 to 1917.
Good Old Days in Chicago
A fond look at life in Chicago during the 1950s, co-authored by Neal Samors and Michael Williams, is being released in June by Chicago's Neighborhoods, Inc.
Chicago in the Fifties: Remembering Life in the Loop and the Neighborhoods is a follow-up to the highly successful Old Chicago Neighborhood: Remembering Life in the 1940s, which won Best History Book at the Independent Book Publisher's Awards.
The authors also compiled last year's popular Real Chicago: Photographs from the Files of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Chicago in the Fifties combines pictures and memories to recreate life during the decade--the 1959 White Sox pennant, Loop movie palaces and restaurants, high school life, early television, dating, drive-ins, Riverview Amusement Park, the founding of Playboy Magazine.
There's also a time capsule of photographs from the period, including Tony Bennett singing at a Fenger High School sock hop, Mayor Daley playing softball (and hitting a double), candy shops, diners, wrestling, midget cars, marble championships, Lincoln Park Zoo, celebrities at the Pump Room, steam engines and even sleeping on the beach on hot summer nights.
In addition to the more than 200 photographs, over 60 Chicagoans contributed their memories of city life to the book, including Hugh Hefner, Shelley Berman, Ramsey Lewis, Lee Phillip Bell, Mort Sahl, Rich Melman, Mike Wallace, Hugh Downs, Warner Saunders, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bruce DuMont, Bill Gleason, Mary Frances Veeck, Joel Weisman and former Governor Jim Thompson.
A Note About News
If you have a new book coming out or are getting a new honor or have other news to share, it's best to email a news release to our new email address: .
This is especially important if you reside outside the Chicago metro area. Literary License picks up some news about members from Chicago news media and national sources like Publishers Weekly, but we can't remember everyone's name and can't read all the papers in our 12-state region.
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