Growing Up Chicago
Edited by David Schaafsma, Roxanne Pilat, and Lauren DeJulio Bell, Foreword by Luis Alberto Urrea Northwestern University Press, 2021 Library of Congress PS572.C5G76 2022 | Dewey Decimal 813.01083277311
Growing Up Chicago is a collection of coming-of-age stories that reflects the diversity of the city and its metropolitan area. Primarily memoir, the book collects work by writers who spent their formative years in the region to ask: What characterizes a Chicago author? Is it a certain feel to the writer’s language? A narrative sensibility? The mention of certain neighborhoods or locales? Contributors to the volume include renowned writers Ana Castillo, Stuart Dybek, Emil Ferris, Charles Johnson, Rebecca Makkai, Erika L. Sánchez, and George Saunders, as well as emerging talents. While the authors represented here write from distinct local experiences, some universals emerge, including the abiding influence of family and friends and the self-realizations earned against the background of a place sparkling with promise and riven by inequality, a place in constant flux.
The stories evoke childhood trips to the Art Institute of Chicago, nighttime games of ringolevio, and the giant neon Magikist lips that once perched over the expressway, sharing perspectives that range from a young man who dreams of becoming an artist to a single mother revisiting her Mexican roots, from a woman’s experience with sexual assault to a child’s foray into white supremacy. This book memorably explores culture, social identity, and personal growth through the eyes of Chicagoans, affirming that we each hold the ability to shape the places in which we live and write and read as much as those places shape us.