The Pit by Frank Norris to be Discussed at the Cliff Dwellers on July 20.

Although the author Frank Norris was Chicago born, he is not known as a Chicago writer, leaving the city at age fourteen with his family as they moved to California. Graduating from Berkeley, Norris went on to an adventurous career in journalism which included stints as a news correspondent in South Africa in 1895-96 for the San Francisco Chronicle between the time of the two Boer Wars, and as a war correspondent for McClure’s Magazine during the Spanish-American War in 1898.
Norris had five novels published between 1898 and 1902. Two of them, McTeague: A Story of San Francisco (1899) and The Octopus: A Story of California (1901) were part of a trilogy that was published before his death in 1902 at the age of thirty-two. The final novel of the trilogy, The Pit: A Story of Chicago was published posthumously in 1903.
The Pit was included in the recently published Chicago By the Book: 101 Publications that Shaped the City and Its Image. Timothy Spears, whose essay on The Pit is in the book, writes ”although literary critics have complained about the florid writing and the ill-defined relation between the novel’s love story and business plot, they have admired Norris’s fine-grained descriptions of the trading pits of the Board of Trade…………..and how his canny representations of ‘fictional’ values resembles the volatile manipulations of our own time.”
Please join us this coming Saturday morning, July 20, at 11:00 for a discussion of The Pit at the Cliff Dwellers Book Club, at 200 S. Michigan. The discussion is free and open to the public. Our guests are welcome to join us at the club for lunch afterwards.

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Chicago By the Book

The Caxton Club has produced a most amazing book, recently published by the University of Chicago Press, entitled Chicago by the Book: 101 Publications That Shaped the Image of Chicago. It is a must possession for a Chicago bibliophile. These publications include both fiction and non-fiction books, magazines and periodicals, and reports and digests. Each publication listed is accompanied by a short essay and at least one visual image from it.
Chicago has many images to the general public, some good; some bad; some ugly. As this book demonstrates, the written word has shaped many of these images. Among the good are publications such as Louis Sullivan’s A System of Architectural Ornament and Carl Condit’s The Chicago School of Architecture that make the case that Chicago has been an innovative leader in architectural design in the world. Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams and Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky allow us to see how Chicago has been a leader in the movement for social change in our nation. Bernard Sahlins’ Days and Nights at the Second City and David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago and The Duck Variations have shown that Chicago has been in the forefront of the transformation of American theater.
Then there is the bad and ugly side of Chicago reflected in the institutional racism exposed in Richard Wright’s novel Native Son and the Chicago Commission on Race Relations report on The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot. Chicago: Gang Wars in Pictures by Hal Andrews has reinforced the image of Chicago as a violent city in the eyes of the world.
Chicago by the Book is now available at your favorite book seller. Do yourself a favor and go out and buy it. You won’t be sorry.