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Literary License Newsletter heading

September 2002


Featuring: Robert Vivian, award-winning essayist
Where: Chicago Athletic Assn., 12 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
When: 6 p.m. social hour, 7 p. m. program Tuesday, October 8
     Reservations NOT needed.      Public invited.
     Hors d'oeuvres, wine and soft drinks, reception and presentation: $10 for members, $15 for non-members.
     For information, call Matt Smolek at C.A.A. 312/236-7500, Ext. 2113.

Robert Vivian, award-winning essayist, recently completed another manuscript of essays. For our October meeting, he will read from his new collection. His first book of essays, Cold Snap as Yearning, was published by the University of Nebraska Press and won both the Society of Midland Author's Award in Adult Nonfiction for 2001 and the Nebraska Center for the Book's award in the same category. The essays in the book celebrate Vivian's hometown-­Omaha, Neb. From Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2001: "With phrases both crystalline and luminous, Vivian clasps onto small moments...and fleshes them out to their full glory..."

Also a playwright and poet, he has just completed a novel too. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Harper's, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, New York Quarterly, Cross Currents and other literary publications.


       Tuesday, Nov. 12--Tom Ciesielka, president, TC Public Relations: "Book Publicity and What Authors Can Do About It"
       Tuesday, Jan 14--Monthly Program
       Tuesday, Feb. 11--Monthly Program
       Tuesday, March 11--Stephen Kinzer, reporter for The New York Times and author of Crescent & Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds
       Tuesday, April 8--Sally A. Kitt, art professor emerita, DePaul University, and author of Cahokia: Mirror of the Cosmos.
       May 13–Annual Awards Banquet at Cliff Dwellers Club
       June 7-8–Printer's Row Book Fair.
Board Meetings Usually on the third Wednesday of each month. Note exceptions*: Sept. 18. Oct. 16, *Dec. 4, *Jan. 22, Feb. 19, March 19, Apr.16, May 21.


     The Society of Midland Authors has endured since 1915 because in each generation some members have bestirred themselves to recruit other eligible authors.
An author can become a member only by invitation from the board of directors, so it's essential that our existing members scout the field for names to suggest. Many of you review, edit or sell books, or otherwise hold positions that put you in frequent contact with authors.      
All you have to do is note that an author is eligible and send in his or her name and address together with the title and publisher (or producer) of at least one qualifying book (or play). The membership committee will follow through.

Pertinent Bylaws
      Article I: Eligible for membership are qualified persons identified with the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin through birth or residence.
      Article VIII: Any writer who meets the conditions set forth in Article I is eligible for Regular Membership in the Society if he or she is the author or co-author of a book demonstrating literary style and published by a recognized publisher, or the author of a published or professionally produced play. Other persons having some connection with literature, such as librarians, teachers, publishers and editors, are eligible for Associate Membership, without voting rights.

      Authors of books from recognized publishers are accepted more or less automatically. In other cases, because of the new publishing technology that permits print-on-demand and simplifies self-publishing, the board may wish to examine a copy of the proposed member's book.
      The object is not to engage in hair-splitting literary criticism, but to distinguish between vanity publishing and works that would qualify except for an unorthodox approach to publishing.
      The board tends to be fussy about accepting associate members. Too many associates would change the character of the society. The associate category is for people who are deeply involved in the book publishing industry or the theater, not for writers, however successful with shorter forms, who haven't yet produced a book or a play.
      A nomination form can be downloaded from the SMA website ( or you can just send a note with the basic information to our president, Carol Jean Carlson, 1420 W. Farragut, Chicago, IL 60640.


The following contributors have not previously been acknowledged and publicly thanked.

Awards Fund

George W. McDaniel, Eldon L. Ham, Sterling Plumpp.

Jane Mayer Memorial Fund

Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Bezark, Mr. and Mrs. David Mayer.

The Society is grateful for their support.


Dawn of a New Book
      Twilight of the Ice is the new novel by Harry Mark Petrakis, doyen of Chicago literature. It is being published next spring by Southern Illinois University Press.

When Does He Sleep?
      If it seems as if Steve Neal, the Chicago Sun-Times political columnist, is everywhere, it is not your imagination. His new book, Eleanor and Harry: The Correspondence of Eleanor Roosevelt and Henry S Truman is drawing national attention (including a full-page review in the New York Times book section).
      Gloria Steinem came to town to introduce Neal at the City Club's Public Policy luncheon.
      He also is featured on "Inside Writing and Publishing," a program produced by the Library Cable Network in the north and northwest suburbs. Last year, Neal published Harry and Ike.

Fire Up the VCR
      Al Gini, author of My Job, My Self, can be seen on the Library Cable Network, discussing his book.

New Direction
      Her series sleuth, Cat Marsala, has won Barbara D'Amato many fans, and her Authorized Personnel Only received the first Mary Higgins Clark Award (in 2000).
      Now the prolific writer from Evanston has published White Male Infant, a novel about an American couple who adopt a Russian child, but come to suspect the boy is not an orphan.
      A videographer working with an American journalist in Moscow on a documentary about world-wide orphans is slain.
      Complications and mayhem ensue.

Another Great Lake
      Chicago's Lake Claremont Press received the full-page treatment from Citytalk this summer. Owner Sharon Woodhouse so much enjoyed self-publishing her book, A Native's Guide to Chicago, that she decided to produce other local interest volumes.
      Ursula Bielski's Chicago Haunts: Ghostlore of the Windy City has sold 40,000 copies, and Woodhouse's summer list contains three new books. (Lake Claremont, for those who are curious, was what Woodhouse's father called the pool behind their home on Claremont Avenue.)


Growing Up Arab
      Ray Hanania (SMA's former webmaster) is now writing a weekly column for the Daily Herald, giving a Palestinian perspective on the Middle East.
      A former reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, he's the author of I'm Glad I Look Like a Terrorist: Growing up Arab in America.
      He was in the news recently also in his role as a part-time stand-up comic. He was bounced from a gig opening a comedy show in Chicago featuring the well-known Jewish comedian Jackie Mason.
      There was controversy over whether Mason just wanted a better known comic to open the show, but Mason's manager did tell the Associated Press, "It's not exactly like he's just an Arab-American. This guy's a Palestinian."
      Well, yes and no. Of Palestinian descent from an Arab Christian family, Hanania, who grew up in Chicago, has served in the U.S. miliary (Viet Nam) like his father and uncle (World War II).
      Hanania responded with an invitation to Mason, quoted in the Sun-Times: "If he wants to have a kosher dinner in my home my (Jewish) wife will prepare it for him."

"Class Act"
     Scott Turow's sixth novel, Reversible Errors, due out in November from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, will get a first printing of 750,000 copies. Publishers Weekly calls him the "class act of legal thriller writers...well known for his many-layered narratives."
      The plot involves a second trial for a convicted murderer after a botched prosecution presided over by a judge who later went to jail for bribery.
      Turow's real-life experiences no doubt strengthen the sense of reality. As an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago, he helped prosecute crooked judges. He also was one of the attorneys who helped free Alex Hernandez after he was wrongly convicted along with Rolando Cruz of the murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico.
      Hernandez, like a character in the novel, was originally sentenced to death. (Cruz also was eventually freed from death row.)

New Edition
      Margery Frisbie's 1991 local best-seller, An Alley in Chicago: The Ministry of a City Priest, has been republished as a joint project of Sheed & Ward, the original publisher, and DePaul University. The "Commemorative Edition" adds a new introduction and conclusion by Robert A. Ludwig updating "The Life and Legacy of Monsignor John Egan" during the last 10 years of his life.
      As special assistant to the president of DePaul for commun-ity affairs, Egan continued his lifelong battles in behalf of the downtrodden. One special target was the exploitive payday loan industry.
      Ludwig is DePaul's director of university ministry.

Environmental Afterword
      In June Lynn Lawson was a presenter at the Second Annual Rachel Carson Environmental Writers' Conference and Workshop at Boothbay Harbor, Maine, where she spoke and read the Afterword from her first book, Staying Well in a Toxic World: Understanding Environmental Illness, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Chem-ical Injuries, and Sick Building Syndrome.

Schwab Goes to Ragdale
      Past SMA president Jim Schwab will be spending four weeks at the Ragdale Foundation next April after being awarded a residency to work on his next book, a memoir on adoptive parenting.
      Ragdale, whose programs were featured in a past SMA program by Alice Ryerson Hayes, offers such stays on a competitive basis to about 200 authors and writers each year at its mansion on 50 acres of virgin prairie in Lake Forest, Ill.

O Tempera! O Mores!
Jim Bowman, himself the product of a classical education, praised a new book titled, A New Apologia for Greek and Latin.
Reviewing the book in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bowman agreesd with the author, Tracy Lee Simmons, that children should be started at eight or nine learning word lists, declensions and verb forms.
He quoted W. H. Auden on translating, which "inculcates the habit... of automatically asking, `What is the exact meaning of a word?'"
"No better way," said Auden, to counter what he considered "an appalling deterioration in precision and conciseness" among politicians, journalists, lawyers and everyone else.

Blues Expert
      Sterling Plumpp, "known worldwide for his blues and jazz based poetry," will serve on a panel Sept. 18 at the Guild Complex discussing, "Is There a Working Class Music?"
      His books include Blues Narratives, Black Rituals and Ornate With Smoke and Blues: The Story Always Untold. Humanities Gurus
      As usual, SMA members will comprise a substantial segment of the presenters at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Oct. 31-Nov. 10.
      Names spotted in the announcement program include Bill Ayers, Lerone Bennett, Rosellen Brown, Richard Christiansen, Andrew Patner and Scott Turow.

Bye-Bye Choo-Choos
      Gerry and Janet Souter had three of their latest books hit the store shelves between Aug. 15 and Sept.15, 2002.
      Representing (they hope) the last of their historical nonfiction telling the story of America's love affair with toy trains over the past 100 years, the books are titled: Classic Lionel Trains (MBI Publishing), Modern Toy Trains (MBI Publishing) and American Flyer, Classic Toy Trains, a hardcover coffee table volume from Friedman/Fairfax (Barnes & Noble Publishing).
      The Souters have mined this book niche with six books beginning in 1999 with The American Toy Train (MBI Publishing) which just went into its second printing.
      MBI has requested more books from the Souters, but the titles under consideration have "absolutely nothing to do with anything vaguely resembling a toy train."

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