Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chicago: City on the Make

I quickly found myself resolving to read Chicago City on the Make like poetry.  I think Love is for Barflies is the best chapter:  “Yet on nights when, under all the arc-lamps, the little men of the rain come running, you’ll know at last that, long long ago, something went wrong between St. Columbanus and North Troy Street. And Chicago divided your heart. Leaving you loving the joint for keeps. Yet knowing it never can love you.” I like this one too:  “It’s used to be a writer’s town and it’s always been a fighter’s town.” “An October sort of city even in Spring.”


I can see why some may not see this as a love story right away, and may mistake it for a bashing when really it’s a tribute.  Maybe Chicago is a place you have to see to love.  Maybe it’s a hometown pride thing, except like Algren says, you can’t belong to Chicago.  That could be some of the allure as well, don’t we always want what we can’t really have?  Algren portrays a Chicago that you can’t keep up with, a Chicago that’s too much for anyone to fully absorb, to fully grasp.  The city’s so big, but it’s also constantly changing.  And it’s surprising us.  And as Algren so greatly depicts, it has it’s own agenda. 


This was a short book, but I think it’s just the right length.  Chicago, like a great love, always leaves you wanting more.

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