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September 2003

Chicago's Black Literary Renaissance

        This year all the programs will be linked to the overall theme, "Chicago in Literature." To launch the series, R. C. Sautter, SMA president, will read a short passage from Divine Days by a former SMA president, the late Leon Forrest. Speaker of the evening will be Sam Greenlee, author of The Spook Who Sat By The Door, Baghdad Blues and other books. And don't miss the social hour, an opportunity to mingle with other writers.

Where: Chicago Athletic Assn., 12 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago

: 6 p.m. social hour, 7 p.m. program, Tuesday, Oct. 14

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.

Other Coming Events

        Nov. 11-Chicago in the Civil War.
        Jan. 13-Chicago Crime in Fact and Fiction.
        Feb. 19-Natural Chicago in Literature.
        March 9-Chicago Latino Literature.
        April 13-Chicago Political Books.
        May 11-Annual awards banquet at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave.

Board Meetings

        Usually on the third Wednesday of each month:
Sept. 17, Oct. 22, Nov. 19, Dec. 17 (maybe), Jan. 21, Feb. 18, Mar. 17, Apr. 21, May 19.


        Many members are not yet taking advantage of a valuable benefit offered by the Society: your personal page on the SMA web site.
        The site is now getting 124 visits a week from visitors spending an average of more than five minutes viewing 2.6 pages.
        One of those pages could be your resume, which would be helpful to anyone trying to contact you for professional reasons, such as offering a speaking engagement or inquiring about secondary rights.
        Or perhaps readers just want to tell you how much they enjoyed your book.
        To see what others are doing, click on the members button and find names with "Bio" listed. Then click on any one of them. All you have to do is send your information to the SMA Webmaster, Mary Claire Hersh: Look at the add or revise listing page for guidance in submitting content.
        There's no charge for paid-up SMA members.
        Mary Claire's E-mail address, street address and phone number are also there for those who have questions, or are not too computer savvy.

        Many SMA members remain confused by the fact that our fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.
        That means dues are payable every July 1 instead of at the beginning of the calendar year.
        To help you keep track, our mailing labels now show your expiration date next to your name.
        If you joined SMA in the spring you got a few extra months free and your label should read "(Exp Jun 2004)."

By Barbara Schaaf

World's Fair Lady

        Barbara Croft has received enthusiastic notices for her new book, Moon's Crossing, a novel set in Chicago during the l892 World's Columbian Exposition. An Oak Park resident, Croft did not have far to travel to a book signing at Barbara's Bookstore this summer.

Reign Fall
        Large-space reviews continue to pile up in publications ranging from Business Week to The New York Times for Stephen Kinzer's new book, attesting to its importance.
        He marks the 50th anniversary of the CIA-engineered ouster of Mohammed Mossadegh, the elected Iranian prime minister, with All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror.
        The architect of the covert coup was Kermit Roosevelt, TR's grandson.         British colonialists and Big Oil thought the premier a little too populist and palsy with the Communists. The new President, Eisenhower and Winston Churchill, just restored British prime minister, were convinced he had to go, and he did.         Kinzer, a long-time foreign correspondent for the Times, argues that the result was a harshly repressive program instituted by the Shah that ended in l979 with the Iranian revolution.
        He draws upon CIA documents, kept secret till they were leaked three years ago to the Times.

Size Doesn't Matter ...
        When you write short stories about your own ethnic group. According to Publishers Weekly, in Fabulous Small Jews (Houghton Mifflin), Joseph Epstein presents "thoughtful and arresting" tales about "quirky, witty, resentful, and cautiously hopeful" people. Fans of Epstein's work will find this volume "gratifying and genuine." It's set mostly in Chicago.

Size Doesn't Matter II
        Although she lives in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood now, Louise Hullinger has gone back to her South Dakota roots and crafted a dozen short stories set there in the l930s.
        If you need tales about "rugged individuals" possessed of "quiet courage...whose livelihood depends on the capriciousness of weather" and who triumph "over despair" pick up a copy of Next Year Country.
        To celebrate the publication of this volume, in July Hullinger was feted at the Pierre, S.D., Cultural Heritage Center.


Happy 100th to Phyllis Whitney
        Having been alerted that Phyllis Whitney would observe her100th birthday on Sept. 9, the Society sent an E-mail flash to members so that anyone who wished could send birthday greetings through her web site.
        Friends planned to collect them
in an album to be presented on her birthday.
        Whitney, onetime Chicago journalist, was honored by SMA in 1996 with a Lifetime Achievement Award. She has published more than 80 novels with worldwide sales of more than 40 million copies.
        Although she has resided for many years in Virginia, she has faithfully maintained her SMA contacts, partly because, she says, the Society helped encourage her when she was getting started as an author back in Illinois.
        It seems likely that she has been a member of the Society longer than anyone else.

Wurst Case
        Robert Loerzel's book, Alchemy of Bones: Chicago's Luetgert Murder Case of 1897 (University of Illinois Press), will hit bookstore shelves in September.
        It's the true story of a murder case that gripped America's attention a century ago. Louise Luetgert disappeared, and her body was never found.
        Police charged her husband, Adolph, with murdering her and dissolving the corpse inside his sausage factory.
        Newspapers fought one another for scoops, and people across the country claimed to have seen the missing woman alive.
        Loerzel writes, "Although my book is nonfiction, it tells the story with a novel-like narrative.
        "One of my aims was to go beyond the basic facts of the Luetgert mystery and present a portrait of Chicago during the wonderfully weird years of the 1890s."
        Book signings in the Chicago area:
        Saturday, Sept. 13, 7 p.m. at Quimby's, 1854 W. North Ave., Chicago.
        Thursday, Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m. at Barbara's Bookstore, 1350 N. Wells St., Chicago.
        Saturday, Sept. 20, 2-4 p.m. at Victoria's Books, 13 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights.
        Saturday, Sept. 27, 2 p.m. at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, 7419 W. Madison St., Forest Park.
        Loerzel is scheduled to appear on Milt Rosenberg's Extension 720 show on WGN-AM 720 on Thursday, Sept. 25, from 9 (or whenever the Cubs game ends) until 11 p.m.

Happy Ending
Walter J. Roers reports that his novel, The Pact, is being re-issued after the kind of travail that sometimes makes writers wish they had gone into accounting instead.
        He relates "the somewhat agonizing history" of his book.
"The novel was published in August, 2000, by New Rivers Press, a small publishing house in Minneapolis.
        "It received very favorable reviews in Publishers Weekly, on WBAI radio in New York and in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In January, 2001, it was announced as a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award.
        "Unfortunately, that same month, the publisher stopped all printing and marketing of the book due to financial problems. Now, thanks to a merger between New Rivers Press and Moorhead State University, a third printing of the Pact will be completed in September."

Justice Revisited
        Northwestern University Press is planning a revised edition of Victims of Justice by Thomas Frisbie and Randy Garrett.
        The original book told the story of the murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico, the conviction of Rolando Cruz and Alejando Hernandez and the dramatic retrial in which the revelation of false testimony led to their being freed from Death Row.
        The revised edition will tell what came next, including the trial of the prosecutors and police-the DuPage Seven-who ultimately were ruled not guilty of framing Cruz and Hernandez.

Old Pro and New Prose
        With a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council, the Guild Complex scheduled a program around Scott Turow on Sept. 12 at the Three Arts Club of Chicago, 1300 N. Dearborn Pkwy.
        It's part of a series, "Writers Across the Generations," which brings together established writers and the emerging writers they have influenced.
        Turow will share the program with two winners of the Scott Turow Fiction Prize, Keely Bowers and Julianne McAdoo.
        Turow's novels, acclaimed both by critics and the book-buying public, include Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof and Reversible Errors.
        In October, Farrar, Straus & Giroux will release his new non-fiction work, Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer's Reflections on Dealing With the Death Penalty.
        Publishers Weekly calls it "an invaluable, objective look at both sides of this critical but highly charged debate."

Solid Research on Massacre

        The Brown's Chicken Massacre by Maurice Possley (Berkley True Crime), "solidly researched," said the Chicago Sun-Times, chronicles the nine-year effort to solve seven murders.
        One especially dramatic sequence tells how a forensic scientist from the Northern Illinois Crime Laboratory foresightedly saved DNA samples from the crime scene that may prove useful in the upcoming trial of two suspects.
        Possley has already scored one victory with his book. When he had a book signing in Chicago's posh Pump Room, people without jackets were admitted for the first time.

Chicago Mythtery
        Dick Bales has been working with video crews in California and in Chicago for a show based on his book: The Great Chicago Fire and the Myth of Mrs. O'Leary's Cow.
It's intended for broadcast on the Discovery Channel's Unsolved History series that runs in Chicago at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays
        The program features a forensics team that tackles a historical mystery.

On Another Planet

        Steven Burgauer summarizes part of his latest book, The Slave of Aphrodite:
        "Meet Lars McDonald, oldest man in the solar system, survivor of the Venusian Civil War and the Mars Uprising. He's been rejuvenated twice, made a prisoner of war, and forced to work for two lifetimes as a slave in a concentration camp.
        "Now he's escaped and is slugging his way solo across Domtar Province, Venus, a leech-infested bacterial sump 1200 kloms wide, his last remaining chance for survival.
        "Join Lars, now, in his final trek, a bold, high-risk quest for freedom."
        If you want to know more, you have to buy the book.

Two Novels in Half a Year
        Margaret McMullan writes that
she has two novels coming out in coming months. The first is In My Mother's House (St. Martin's Press, November, 2003).
        "It's about a daughter's quest to understand her mother's staunch commitment to silence about their family's experiences in Vienna during World War II, and how they were able to escape."
        Her young adult novel, How I Found the Strong (Houghton Mifflin) will come out in spring, 2004.
        "It's about a young boy named Shanks who gets left behind when his father and brother leave to fight for the South in the Civil War."
        She's chair of the English department at the University of Evansville in Indiana. She is also the author of When Warhol Was Still Alive (Crossing Press, 1994).
         Her work has appeared in such publications as Glamour, Chicago Tribune, Southern Accents, Michigan Quarterly Review, TriQuarterly, Boulevard and Greensboro Review, and in several anthologies.
        She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2001, and has received Individual Artist Fellowships from the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Second Mystery Out        
        Libby Hellman's second mystery, A Picture of Guilt, was released in July, in a simultaneous hard cover (Poisoned Pen Press) and mass market (Berkley Prime Crime) version.
        It continues the adventures of Ellie Foreman, a video producer and single mother who lives on the North Shore.
        Meanwhile, the first in the series, An Eye for Murder, was nominated for an Anthony Award for Best First Novel. The award will be decided in October at Bouchercon, the world mystery convention, to be held this year in Las Vegas

Double Header
        Candace Fleming received two red star reviews in the same issue of Publishers Weekly, one on a story for ages four to eight, the other on a biography for ages 10 to 14.
        PW uses red stars to call attention to "books of outstanding quality."
        Boxes for Katje (illustrated by Stacey Dressen-McQueen), inspired by actual events, is an "engaging story of post-WWII Holland" that "serves as a potent-and merry-lessen in generosity," PW said.
        Ben Franklin's Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman's Life uses Poor Richard's Almanack as a template for a clever format that "offers concise, engaging bits and pieces that both offer a broader context for Franklin's life events and specific insights into his character...
        "A generous peppering of primary source material allows Franklin's wit and personality-and contradictions-to emerge...
        "Fleming delivers a cohesive and complex portrait of a brilliant, productive and shrewd man who helped shape this country."

Holli: La Guardia Tops Giuliani
        When The New York Times Book Review wanted to review a new biography of Fiorello La Guardia, they recalled asking Mel Holli to rank Rudolph Guiliani as Holli did other mayors in his book, The American Mayor: The Best and Worst Big-City Leaders.
        "Holli suggested that Giuliani's effectiveness in restoring public safety and what passes for civility, and his inspiring leadership in the months after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, combine to enshrine him in the pantheon of America's 10 best mayors. But not as New York's best."
        Holli, the reviewer said, had told him that Giuliani "would not edge out La Guardia" as America's greatest mayor.
        In August, Holli was a speaker at Finnish Heritage Day in Crystal Falls, Mich., just before his audience tucked into a lunch that included sinsala (beet/herring salad), pulla (Finnish coffee bread) and kropsua (baked Finnish pancakes) as well as the usual salads and sausages of an American summer.

Planning to Travel
        Jim Schwab last month joined Scott Goldstein of the Metropolitan Planning Council to discuss "Codes and Sustainable Development" at a meeting hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the University of Illinois-Chicago.
        He also is one of 25 participants invited to Washington this month by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to discuss "the future of local community assessment systems in preparation for and mitigation of natural and man-made hazards."
        In October he'll be in Denver at the University of Colorado's Natural Hazards Center to participate in a three-day workshop on a "higher education curriculum for emergency management and planning."

By Tom Frisbie

        Albert A. Bell, Jr., has been at Hope College since 1978, first in an appointment shared between classics and history, and, since 1994, as professor of history and chairperson of the department
        He has published numerous articles and reviews in scholarly journals in America and Europe and is the author of mystery novels and three other books: Resources in Ancient Philosophy (co-authored with Prof. James B. Allis of Hope's Philosophy Department, Scarecrow Press, 1994); Exploring the New Testament World (Thomas Nelson, 1998); and Daughter of Lazarus (a historical novel, iUniverse, 2000).
        His teaching specialities include the Roman Empire, New Testament backgrounds and women in antiquity.
        His mysteries include All Roads Lead to Murder (High Country Publishers, 2002), Kill Her Again (iUniverse, 2000) and The Case of the Lonely Grave (iUniverse, 2000).

        Susan Betz is editor-in-chief of Northwestern University Press. She was managing editor of Northwestern University Press from 1998 until late 2001. She now oversees the acquisition, editing and production of all titles, including translations.

        Deborah Blum is a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer who teaches journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of Sex on the Brain (1997), a New York Times Notable Book, and The Monkey Wars (1994), a Library Journal Best Sci-Tech Book on the ethical issues of primate research.
        Her most recent book, Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection (2002), has been named a Best Book of 2002 by Publisher's Weekly.
        She is co-editor of a Field Guide for Science Writers (1998), and has written for the San Francisco Bee, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Discover, Psychology Today, Life, Health, Utne Reader, Mother Jones and

        Author, journalist and feature writer Nancy S. Brokaw's book Leaving Emma (Houghton-Mifflin, 1999)-a novel for middle-school-aged readers--won the International Librarian's Award. Kirkus Reviews called it a "well-written novel" and said Brokaw "often surprises readers with a well-turned phrase."

        Tom Buck, a former long-time Chicago Tribune staffer, is the author of the recently published Buck, Buck, What's Up: Tales from 60 Years of Journalism.
        Georgie Anne Geyer, syndicated columnist, says, "Tom Buck, one of the finest practitioners of the Old School, is immensely amusing as he spins out anecdotes."
        Dean Trevor Brown of the Indiana University School of Journalism, says, "He reported stories about Chicago that hit the human chord.... His book is a model of narrative journalism.."
        Christopher T. Leland is the author of four novels as well as the instructional book, The Art of Compelling Fiction. He is the head of the creative writing program at Wayne State University and has taught at a number of universities across the country, including Harvard and Bennington. He lives in Detroit.         

        Robert Loerzel is an associate editor at Pioneer Press, which publishes newspapers in Chicago's suburbs. He has received many awards for his investigative reporting and feature stories from the Illinois Press Association, the Chicago Headline Club and the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association.

        Kristin Ohlson is a freelance journalist, essayist and fiction writer based in Cleveland, Ohio. She has published articles and essays in The New York Times,, Ms, the Oprah Magazine, Discover, New Scientist, Food & Wine, Tin House, Poets & Writers and many other publications.
        She has also published fiction in literary magazines, including Ascent and the Indiana Review, and was awarded a major Ohio Arts Council fellowship for fiction for 2003-2004.
        She also teaches occasionally, from freshman composition and creative nonfiction at Cleveland State University to a poetry workshop inside the Cuyahoga County jail.
        Publishers Weekly said Ohlson's new book, Stalking the Divine (Hyperion, 2003), has "beautiful writing" and "gritty honesty."
        Sue William Silverman was born in Washington, D.C., attended Boston University and worked on Capitol Hill. She has published two memoirs, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You (University of Georgia Press, 1999) and Love Sick: One Woman's Journey Through Sexual Addiction.
        She is associate editor of the literary journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction as well as a professional speaker on the issues of child abuse, family dynamics and addictions.
        She received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Aquinas College for her work in literature and child abuse victim advocacy. Her memoirs have been translated into Japanese, Chinese, Norwegian and German. She lives in Grand Haven, Mich.

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