The Cliff Dwellers to discuss Royko’s “Boss”

daley the boss

Mike Royko passed away nineteen years ago today. Hard to believe! My morning newspaper experience has never been the same. His column, on page two, was the first item that I turned to. Now my first read of the day tends to be either the obituaries, sports, or weather.
For thirty plus years, you would consistently find something witty, hard-hitting and satirical in a Royko column. Occasionally you would be surprised by how lyrical his words could be, revealing a softer and kinder nature, defying his gruff public image.
I believe that Royko’s Boss, an account of the life and times of Mayor Richard J. Daley, remains one of the best biographies ever written about an American politician. The Cliff Dwellers book club will be discussing Boss on Saturday May 28 beginning at 11:00 a.m. I will moderate the group. Although it is Memorial Day weekend, perhaps some of you who are in town and have some free time, would like to join in on the discussion, which promises to be lively and informative. Comment on this post or email me at if you have questions or would like to attend.

Every Picture Tells a Story: Illustrated Art from Poland

maps miziellocomotive

I have the distinct privilege and honor of moderating what promises to be an amazing event on Wednesday evening, May 11, at 7:00 p.m. at the elegant Chopin Theater, 1543 W. Division, in the heart of Chicago’s Old Polonia. The event is a discussion entitled “Every Picture Tells a Story: Illustrated Art from Poland.” The four featured Polish authors/illustrators for this discussion will be Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski, the highly talented married couple and the creators of the best-selling Maps book series, and Malgorzata Gurowska and Joanna Ruszczyk, who created perhaps Poland’s most innovative and controversial new book, The Locomotive, based on the famous Polish children’s poem by Julian Tuwim. We will discuss art as a tool of storytelling and how design formats can reinforce the narrative. The event is free and open to the public, but arrive early to assure good seating. There will be other Polish author presentations in Chicago during this week. You will find the entire schedule at

The Cliff Dwellers Book Club Welcomes Libby Fischer Hellmann on April 16.

set the night on fire

Libby Fischer Hellmann, the award-winning, highly acclaimed Chicago-based mystery writer, will be discussing her book, Set the Night on Fire, at the Cliff Dwellers Book Club this coming Saturday, April 16. The book is a thriller, set both in Chicago of today and in the politically charged years of 1968-69 with the backdrop of the Democratic Convention, Days of Rage and the SDS convention. It should be a fun discussion, especially for those of us who were politically active during that time.
Now in our third year, the Cliff Dwellers Book Club features Chicago writers, both past and present. Occasionally, like Libby on April 16, contemporary writers show up to engage in a lively dialogue with the book club. The public is invited, and the conversation begins at 11:00 a.m. There is no charge to attend the book club. Many attendees stay afterwards to continue the discussion over lunch. The Cliff Dwellers is located at 200 South Michigan, across the street from the Art Institute.
If you cannot make this one, consider a future book club. The remaining calendar is below.

May 28-Boss by Mike Royko
June 25-Where I Must Go by Angela Jackson
July 23-Moon-Calf by Floyd Dell
August 27-Peel My Love Like an Onion- by Ana Castillo
September 24-A Dream of Kings by Harry Mark Petrakis
October 22-The Fabulous Clipjoint by Frederick Brown
November 26-Many Lives, One Love by Fanny Butcher

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle


jungle image

I first read Upton Sinclair’s great muckraking novel The Jungle in high school and the book made an immediate impression on me. The horrific description of the careless processing of animal products on the slaughtering floor of the Chicago Stockyards made me think twice when my mother offered me brisket or lamb chops for dinner. I think that I abstained from eating hot dogs for a year.
The Jungle’s protagonist, the Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkus, represents the Everyman of the tens of thousands of European newcomers struggling to make a living and support their families in Chicago at the end of the nineteenth century and in the beginning of the twentieth.
Sinclair’s The Jungle still resonates controversy today. On the evening of April 14, at 6:30 pm, the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame and the Jane Addams-Hull House Museum are co-sponsoring an event centered on The Jungle. A discussion will…

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