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A Walk in Chicago

One in the Crown Journeys series
Author: Alex Kotlowitz

The acclaimed author of There Are No Children Here takes us into the heart of Chicago by introducing us to some of the city’s most interesting, if not always celebrated, people.

Chicago is one of America’s most iconic, historic, and fascinating cities, as well as a major travel destination. For Kotlowitz, an accidental Chicagoan, it is the perfect perch from which to peer into America’s heart. It’s a place, as one historian has said, of “messy vitalities,” a stew of contradictions: coarse yet gentle, idealistic yet restrained, grappling with its promise, alternately sure and unsure of itself.

Chicago, like America, is a kind of refuge for outsiders. It’s probably why Kotlowitz finds comfort here. He’s drawn to people on the outside who are trying to clean up—or at least make sense of—the mess on the inside. Perspective doesn’t come easy if you’re standing in the center. As with There Are No Children Here, Never a City So Real is not so much a tour of a place as a chronicle of its soul, its lifeblood. It is a tour of the people of Chicago, who have been the author’s guides into this city’s—and in a broader sense, this country’s—heart.

From Booklist
Chicago is an awfully big place to fit into a small book, but Kotlowitz is a master of distillation. The author of There Are No Children Here (1991), a seminal tale of the Chicago projects, Kotlowitz is an omnivorous observer, discerning listener, and unassuming witness to urban life, who is as compassionate as he is curious, as respectful as he is incisive. He portrays Chicago as a place without pretense where "people are taken for who they are, not for what they have or haven't achieved," and consequently he seeks the city's many-faceted soul in the lives of its mavericks. Individuals such as Millie Wortham and Brenda Stephenson, who work for an organization that helps young mothers; artist Milton Reed, "a Diego Rivera of the projects"; and the generous owners of modest yet cherished neighborhood hot spots. Kotlowitz infuses each finely honed and stealthily affecting biographical sketch with captivating insights into Chicago history and culture, clear-eyed testimony to his great affection for this no-nonsense city and his infinite fascination with humankind. Donna Seaman
© American Library Association.
$16.95 (hardcover)
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