This is a slow read. I REALLY appreciate the notes section in back.
After reading a small section, I check out the notes immediately and it helps me understand who and what he is talking about—after all we are translating from a different language!
PORTRAIT OF A CITY
Chicago is a strange place—there are so many different areas and eras—it is difficult to put your finger on what Chicago is all about.
“It’s a ball game between the do-as-I-sayers and the live-and-let-livers—but it’s a rigged ball game.”
“The only way a mayor can procceed is to just keep things in repair”The battle goes on between the people who follow the laws and those who realize there is no point in doing that—to survive (or sometimes just live) you may have to bend or even break them. There needs to be a place for these people and I was amazed that it was all confined to the Old Levee district, isolated from the rest of society. See note on bottom of pg 110
THERE IS MORE…
Algren tells an anecdote about one thing but he is really saying something else.
Re: the ball game and the blacklist. On pg 34-36 when he tells the story about being stopped on the northside by kids who demand he tell his favorite player and then berate him on his choices—it becomes commentary on the McCarty hearings. The phrases and terms used: Guilt of association, conspiracy, the committee, chairman all make a clever reference to a very twisted past.
His writing is beautiful and has a wonderful sound when read aloud.
I have mixed feeling about the anachronistic “Chicago: City on the Make”. I think writing should be understood, without too much work for the reader. In another sense, I find the deciphering and decoding a thrill and a complete hassle at the same time. But, if he didn’t word things in his dated slang the way he did, his prose would lose all its beauty and cadence.
Montgomery-Ward sleepwalkers—Shoppers at a department store
Straw Kelly—Summer hat