Oak Park-based journalist Alex Kotlowitz tackled race and urban poverty in his acclaimed books There Are No Children Here and The Other Side of the River, but he gets to chill--a bit--in his latest, Never a City So Real: A Walk in Chicago, published as part of the "Crown Journeys" series of literary travelogues. Shunning guidebook formulae, Kotlowitz examines some of the city's neighborhoods by profiling their residents: steelworker and labor leader Ed Sadlowski personifies South Chicago; artist Milton Reed ("the Diego Rivera of the projects") enlivens the section on Bronzeville; defense attorney Andrea Lyon gives a heart to the Cook County Criminal Courthouse at 26th and California. "This is a city in motion, a place of passages," says Kotlowitz, and his Algrenesque portraits reveal that in human terms, as each subject leads him through his or her corner of a changing city. A lot of these "walks," by the way, end up in the writer's favorite restaurants--Manny's, Edna's, Mac Arthur's--so this is best read on a full stomach. Kotlowitz discusses Never a City So Real at 7 PM on Tuesday, September 7, at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th, 773-684-1300, and at 7 PM on Thursday, September 9, at the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, 811 Elm, Winnetka, 847-446-8880.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kevin Horan.