Congratulations to Caro Llewellyn, who now returns to her native Australia, as she takes on an exciting new endeavor as Director, Experience and Engagement at Museums Victoria, Australia’s largest museum organization. I had the distinct privilege last year working with Caro, and her partner Jill Brack at 20 Square Feet Productions, on some of the community-based programming for visiting Polish authors in Chicago. Caro has been one of our nation’s top literary event producers, a passionate advocate of bringing literature and authors into neighborhoods and communities. She has created such major events as the celebrations surrounding the New York Public Library’s Centennial and the PEN World Voices: The New York Festival of International Literature. Thank you Caro for all you have done to enrich the fabric of our literary world. Best of luck in Australia.
Today I made my first visit to the American Writers Museum, which opened at 180 N. Michigan last month. It certainly is an honor to have the only national museum of its kind located in Chicago. My friend Roberta Rubin, the former owner of The Book Stall bookstore in Winnetka and truly one of the great literary advocates in the Chicago area, is one of the key individuals in making this museum a reality. It was extremely gratifying to see “The Roberta Rubin Writer’s Room” which is currently exhibiting Jack Kerouac’s original scroll for On the Road.
Since the museum space is only 11,000 square feet, there are physical limitations as to display options. Digitally the museum is state-of-the-art. There are very nice rooms dedicated to children’s literature and Chicago authors. In the Writers Hall, one wall features 100 American deceased writers; the other wall displays 100 American literary works. However I felt that both these walls, at times, seemed to use historical and political considerations, over literary significance, as criteria in the selection of these writers and books. I would have also liked to see a little more of the personal touch in the museum’s permanent collection. For instance, perhaps something on the order of a desk on which Emily Dickinson composed some of her poetry, or maybe the walking boots that John Muir wore on the nature walks that inspired his books. Also, permanent exhibits of universally acknowledged great American living writers such as Philip Roth and Toni Morrison might be a nice added touch. Nevertheless, the American Writers Museum is a work in progress and worthy of our support. The Chicago literary community should rally on its behalf by promoting it among friends and family, as well as providing positive input on future programming to its staff.
Carol Felsenthal is one of Chicago’s most knowledgeable and insightful political observers. An accomplished author, Carol has written biographies of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Katharine Graham and Bill Clinton among others. You often hear Carol on local television and radio shows as a commentator. She has written extensively on political and social matters for Chicago magazine, where she also blogs at chicagomag.com. In addition, her blog posts can be found on Politico, the New Republic, The Hill and the Huffington Post. She will join us at Max and Benny’s on Monday evening, June 26, in a political conversation about what’s happening on the local and national scenes. It should be a fascinating discussion. The program starts at 7:00 p.m. Max and Benny’s is located at 461 Waukegan Road in Northbrook.
We will be celebrating Bloomsday on the evening of Friday, June 16, from 6:30 to 8:00 at the Euro Echo Cafe in Skokie, located at 7919 Lincoln Avenue. A number of us will be reading some of our favorite passages from Ulysses, and we encourage others to read with us. There will be a display of Ulysses-related art by Leonid Osseny. Euro Echo Cafe is a comfortable and cozy place with a nice selection of sandwiches, salads and desserts. It is located across the street from the Skokie Theater. Please confirm your attendance and let me know if you would like to read by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this modern age of ours, we are constantly dealing with the issue of digital device obsession with children. This is why Devorah Heitner’s book “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive)in Their Digital World” is timely, informative and helpful. Devorah, who has her doctorate in Media/Technology and Society from Northwestern University, stresses in her book that our kids need strong mentorship in this connected world we live in. Developing these mentorship strategies as parents, grandparents and teachers is key in helping young people to succeed and become engaged in families and society. Devorah is the featured speaker at Max and Benny’s on Monday evening, May 22. Her presentation begins at 7:00 pm. Her book is being sold by our friends from the Book Bin that evening. The event is free and open to the public.
Ron Rapoport was one of my favorite local sportswriters when he wrote for the Sun-Times. Now Ron is back in town promoting his new book, The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner, and partaking of the celebrations centering around Lardner’s induction into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame on May 4. Lardner was a great sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune in the early twentieth century, as well as writing incisively on the American political and cultural scenes.
I hope that you will be able to join me on Thursday afternoon, May 4, at the Cliff Dwellers for lunch and a presentation by Ron on his new book. We will start at noon, although doors open at 11:30 for time to mingle beforehand. The price for the lunch and program is $30.00. Reservations are required. Email to reserve at email@example.com or call 312-922-8080.
The Scottish born evangelist John Alexander Dowie is mentioned in four chapters of Ulysses. Dowie believed he was the third incarnation of the prophet Elijah, following Elijah himself and John the Baptist. He was fond of wearing Elijah-like clothing quite often, especially when he was touring the world from “Frisco beach to Vladivostok” to raise funds for his holy city of Zion, situated thirty miles or so north of Chicago. The “throwaway” of a paper flyer announcing Dowie’s upcoming evangelical meeting in Dublin plays a major role in the book’s narrative.