New Year, New Project
It’s not exactly a new project, for I’ve been writing bits and pieces of it for quite some time, but now it’s all coming to together, and I’m working on finishing it for publication this year.
It has gone through a number of tentative, working titles, but I’ve decided on Chicago Days: Growing Up Absurd On The South Side. I feel this describes it best.
I’m afraid it could be call a memoir, a classification that makes me uncomfortable, because it seems memoirs are written by people who have stopped doing anything memorable or of interest to anyone. It also seems egotistical to write about one’s own life—as if anyone cares. I just hope this book doesn’t match my stereotype of this genre.
It’s about growing up on the South Side of Chicago, which was then—and now is even more so—a pretty hostile environment, especially for any kid whose interests and ambitions weren’t shared by hardly anyone. Many writers and journalists have written about youth in this—and similar—rough neighbourhoods, but rarely with an insider’s experience of growing up in such a place.
But I really grew up in two worlds. One was the South Side, but I had another world. I found access to it in the pages of books and in my ‘lab’, which I had put together in what used to be a coal room in the basement. And certainly both shaped who I am now. My wife often responds to something I say or do by shaking her head and saying, “You can take Ken out of Chicago, but you can’t take Chicago out of Ken!”