January 25, 2010


I have been making my way through Algren's Chicago: City On The Make in between naps. Our couch is not good for upright comfort and so you must slink down and slouch and wedge yr feet midst it's crack, and naturally fall asleep prone, book slipping. Between one of the 6 naps the book has ushered, or rather the couch, though maybe not entirely--the prose does get a bit prosaic when he goes long on the Sox pitching line up of his youth et. al. and many strangely nicknamed local hooligans and gansters known to Chicago prior the mid-century--I digress--I came across the quote about loving Chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose, and was a tiny bit stunned. The quote gets misquoted often, and what follows, the pithy full phrase is so much richer of a quote--and it goes "You might well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real."

"Never a lovely so real" should be on the goddamn flag. Makes the truism of "woman with a broken nose" seem cliche and off the mark, doesn't it.

The whole book is great, explaining the reason why it's still a crooked, savage republic in 2010: that's all it's ever been. Long con as founding principal. Algren's tribute is a pessimistic one, though he's always gory when it comes to rundown lives and suffering, and Chicago in the early part of the century certainly fit the bill it'd seem. Those pages still feel contemporary, not sure if thats to Chicago's shame or it's credit.

Posted by jessica hopper at January 25, 2010 11:19 PM | TrackBack