Everybody should have a literary friend. Jerry Yusen is mine. For many years now, Jerry has been suggesting books for me to read. Books that he knew, based on my interests, that I would enjoy. And with remarkable consistency, his suggestions have proved to be spot on. Jerry is passionate about books. Any time that I have a book discussion with him it is always lively and informative.
Last week at the Lincolnwood Public Library, Jerry organized an event called Home Front-War Front, World War Two. Jerry spoke eloquently and with great emotion about how his brother survived the sinking of his ship during the most memorable battle of the War in the Pacific. He spoke about the great heroism of his brother, as well as all the brave and women who served in the conflict. Jerry then asked others, veterans of the Second World War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to share some of their experiences with the assembled audience. It was a memorable event, and I was so glad to be there to witness it.
“Chicago Sketches” is one of three finalists in the category of traditional non-fiction in the Chicago Writers Association 2013 Book of the Year Awards. I thank the Awards Committee for the honor. The two other finalists are “We Hope You Like This Song” by Bree Housely and “Records Truly is My Middle Name” by John Records Landecker/Producer Rick Kaempfer. The winner be announced on or before December 1.
A long overdue homage to Ben Hecht will take place in Chicago at the Cliff Dwellers, the evening of Friday, November 15, 2013, as a prelude to his induction into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame on December 7. Hecht’s impact on the Chicago literary scene was monumental. As a journalist, his memorable 1001 Afternoons in Chicago columns, written in the early Roaring Twenties of the last century, and eventually published as a book, describe ordinary Chicagoans in ordinary situations in the most extraordinary picturesque language. In his nearly fifteen years in Chicago, Hecht established himself as one of the top literary figures in the nation.
Distinguished Chicago literary personalities, Bill Savage and Paul Durica will be featured in the program. Cliff Dweller members, Jack Zimmerman, Eve Moran and myself will read stories from 1001 Afternoons in Chicago. The cost of the event is $45, which also includes a full dinner. A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.
Eleanor Catton’s 800 plus page novel, The Luminaries, set in New Zealand during its Gold Rush of the mid-1860s, has won the 2013 Man Booker Prize competition. It is the only one of the six shortlisted books that I had not read due to its unavailability in the States. The book should be arriving at your favorite bookstore this week, and most public libraries have already placed their orders, so call your local library today as you can be assured that the waiting list is bound to grow.
Catton, at age 28, becomes the youngest author to win the Man Booker since the competition started in 1969. The Canadian-born, New Zealand-raised writer’s weighty tome is also the longest book to win the Prize, outdoing Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall by over a hundred pages. I will post my review of the book on this blog as soon as I read it.