Summer in the Literary City

Getting up into the nineties here in Chicago, the kind of hot and humid summer days the city is known for. As many of us have to head to work on a sticky Monday morning, our shirts clinging to our backs from the heat, the air heavy in our lungs, it helps to look back over the last few days of Chicago literary delights.

Thursday evening started things off with Bonnie Jo Campbell at Women and Children First, reading from her new novel Once Upon a River. Bonnie Jo’s readings are always good (how can they not be if she is reading her own fine work?) but even more impressive is how generous and charming she is with her audience. A really good time.

On Saturday night at Women and Children First we enjoyed a treat of a reading that featured two of my former students, April Newman and Sheree L. Greer, sharing the stage with Chelsea Clammer and Allison Gruber. The women read various pieces that made the audience laugh, lust, cringe, and–yes—some of us cried. Part of the bookstore’s Sapho Salon hosted by Kathie Bergquist, another of the fine writers lurking around Chicago these days. (Oh, and by the way–Sheree has a new collection out: Once and Future Lovers.)

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, we had the opportunity to celebrate the release of Michael Burke‘s new story collection: What You Don’t Know About Men. Michael knows how to fill a room and throw a party. The bash was held in the very elegant Edgewater Beach Café, on the ground floor of the historic, iconic, pink Edgewater Beach building on Sheridan Road. Robert Charles, Michael’s partner, was there to do a little of his magic (I mean that literally here, Robert is a magician, you know) and Michael read a moving story for us after he made an incredibly gracious toast and pretty much thanked everyone in the room individually.

All in all, friends, I’d say it was a good weekend. Hope you had a good one, too. Stay cool.

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