Chicago Writing: A Comprehensive Anthology
There hadn’t been a major anthology in 50 years, and no really comprehensive, inclusive Chicago writing collection ever until 1999, when my friend David Starkey and I co-edited Smokestacks and Skyscrapers. It went on to become an Editor’s Choice book of the Chicago Tribune, and helped define and elevate the field of Chicago writing for a new generation.
When we spoke about the book we didn’t just lecture, we performed poems and other pieces from the book, usually with David reading, me on keyboards and vocals, and backed by my sons Daniel (on guitar), and Bryan (on bass). When we played the Grand Ballroom of the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago they insisted on adding Justin Flanigan on drums, and the three later went on to be come the rock band Hypnotist Collector.
Below are some comments about this very well received book. We were on Rick Kogan’s Sunday morning show on WGN talking and performing our way through the book, which explains his comment below.
“…a gift for all of us.”
–Alan Caruba, Bookviews
“…fabulously talented performers and editors.”
–Rick Kogan, WGN and Chicago Tribune
“…demonstrates a joyful and passionate commitment to the literary arts.”
–Fred Gardaphe, ed. Chicago Stories
“…long overdue…a virtual smorgasbord of great work…and engaging introduction to the extra-ordinary number of skilled writers that have made Chicago their home.”
–Dave Newbart, Chicago Sun Times
“…an exciting literary journey through the consciousness of Chicago’s greatest writers.”
–R. Craig Sautter, author Inside the Wigwam
Alas, even though it became the standard volume on Chicago writing, Loyola Press, in what they said was one of the hardest decisions they ever made, let the book go out of print in order to more fully re-orient the press as a religious publisher. I suppose some pieces in Smokestacks may have been too profane! If any press out there wants a great book, get in contact with me. I will have a very limited number of copies for sale, which I’ll be glad to autograph and inscribe. We are thinking of devoting a major section of this or another website to the living authors in the book, so their pieces can stay before you online and you can interact with them. Stay tuned. And literally stay tuned for a radio show available soon on this site that we produced about the book. Take a listen. You’ll hear David and I and the boys and a few authors from the book performing their pieces.