Charlene Wexler’s “Lori”


There are folks of a certain age, who grew up in Chicago’s Jewish community (like myself), who will immediately connect with the characters and places sketched out in Charlene Wexler’s engrossing novel, Lori.  I know that our audience at the next Chicago Jewish Authors Series at Max and Benny’s will thoroughly enjoy Charlene’s presentation on the evening of May 18, starting at 7:00 pm. Let me know if you can make it by emailing me at or by commenting on this post.

Trumbull Park

Trumbull Park by Frank London Brown is the featured book to be discussed at the next Cliff Dwellers book club on Saturday, April 25. The discussion begins at 11:00 a.m. and all are welcome to attend. The Cliff Dwellers is located at 200 S. Michigan, across the street from the Art Institute.

FLB Image

Frank London Brown’s family moved to Chicago from Kansas City in 1939 when he was twelve years old. Brown served as an associate editor of Ebony magazine, where he also was a frequent contributor. He also wrote for Negro Digest, Downbeat, Chicago Review and Southwest Review. His debut novel, Trumbull Park, is a fictionalized account of the actual heroic struggle of African American families who integrated an all-white Chicago Housing Authority complex in the early 1950s. Brown died in 1962, at the age of 35, and his second novel, The Myth Maker, was published posthumously.

Historically Speaking

I will be playing the role of Chicago neighborhood historian in two public appearances during the upcoming months. I delve into Saul Bellow’s Chicago’s Jewish roots in the Humboldt Park neighborhood as the featured speaker at the Chicago Jewish Historical Society meeting on June 7 at Temple Beth Israel, 3601 West Dempster in Skokie. The presentation is at 2:00 p.m. Two months later, on August 12, I discuss the history of the Jewish community in Rogers Park at the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society meeting on August 12. That presentation begins at 6:30 at the Rogers Park Library, 6907 N. Clark.

Lisa Barr To Discuss “Fugitive Colors” on April 20

Hope you can make it to Max and Benny’s next Monday evening.



Lisa Barr will be speaking at the Chicago Jewish Authors Series at Max and Benny’s on Monday evening, April 20th, at 7 pm.  Lisa’s amazing novel, Fugitive Colors, relates the unlikely journey of a young Orthodox Jewish man from Chicago’s West Side to the art salons of Paris and Berlin in the turbulent days leading up to the Second World War.  Booklist calls Fugitive Colors “masterfully conceived and crafted. Barr’s dazzling debut novel has it all: passion and jealousy, intrigue and danger.” Lisa Barr has been a journalist for more than 20 years. She has served as an editor for the Jerusalem Post and later became managing editor of Moment magazine and a staff reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. Please rsvp for the event by contacting me by email at or by phone 847-542-4624.

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Discovering Mr. Galsworthy

Forsyte Saga

For someone like myself, one who purports to be a literary man, I am frankly abashed by admitting that I have just read John Galsworthy for the time first time in my life of nearly three score and ten years. My dear friend, Larry Young, has reminded me several times, over the years, that the Forsyte Saga, may be the best fiction ever written by a British author. But somehow, I never got around to it, since, as we all know, usually contemporary fiction takes precedence over the reading of classics.

So alas, when my wife Anne’s recommendation that the first novel of the Saga, The Man of Property, happened to be selected as our next book club read, I didn’t know quite what to expect. Anne really liked the Masterpiece Theater dramatization of the Saga that she had recently seen. But viewing a dramatization on the television is one thing, and reading a novel another. I thought perhaps that Galsworthy’s Edwardian English might come across as too stilted nowadays. I worried somehow that his characters might be caricatures of the British Gilded Age, non-emotive and stuffy beyond belief.

After completing The Man of Property today, I am happy to admit that my concerns were ill-founded. Larry Young was right; Galsworthy’s writing is brilliant, still abounding with sparkling language after more than a century. The book had some remarkable similarities in tone and emotion with Anna Karenina. It seems that I have discovered the British Tolstoy in Mr. Galsworthy!