The Morning News

Reading The Chicagoan

Book Digest As an expatriate Chicagoan living in benighted eastern Massachusetts, I can attest to the geographical affliction prevalent in these and other parts of the East Coast that are apparently blind and ignorant of the United States west of Philadelphia—this year being an exception given the importance of funny sounding places like “Ohio” and “Indiana.” Possibly the election of a president from Illinois who lives in Chicago may change that: One has already seen the gushing tributes to ur-Chicagoan Studs Terkel—even the New York Times did a featurette on adopted Chicagoan Saul Bellow’s neighborhood.

Now comes The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age (The University of Chicago Press), a wonderful and lavish book that recalls the relatively brief publication life of The Chicagoan, a magazine amazingly comparable to the New Yorker. Reportedly University of Chicago historian Neil Harris was trolling his university’s library and came across nine bound volumes of this periodical, which was published from 1926 to 1935. This well-reproduced, well-illustrated, oversized (coffee table), 400-page book contains one issue in its entirety and numerous samplings of covers, profiles, cartoons, and snippets of a section called “Talk of the Town.”

The only thing that could top this would be a Nelson Algren renaissance. —

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