Cabbie and author of Hack: Stories From a Chicago Cab, still flags:
Nelson Algren's books: Nelson Algren introduced me to Chicago years before I ever got here. Some older, more with-it friend gave me a copy of Never Come Morning or A Walk on the Wild Side sometime in high school. I was hooked immediately. Rereading The Man With the Golden Arm now, over 20 years later, including some seven lived in the neighborhood that the book is set in, has been a sort of revelation. I didn't remember how funny his writing was, nor had yet I been around enough people when first reading it to recognize Algren's unerring ear for catching people's speech.
Passengers that notice the thick paperback tucked into the side of the passenger-side door of my cab ask what I'm reading, and when I tell them most have never even heard of Algren. If you live in this city that really shouldn't be. I haven't gone down Division Street once without thinking of the man. Neither should you.
See a profile of Dmitry Samarov in our Fall Arts Preview.