Corrina Lesser's Blog

Justin Torres—Worthy of the Buzz
The publishing world is very good at creating buzz. Every book is a tour de force of sublime achievement, plumbing the depths of something heretofore unexamined with clarity, precision, and poignancy. Photo by Simon Koy Justin Torres, when he first arrived on the scene a mere two years ago, proved every bit the sensation we were promised. He’s the rare writer who is equally beloved by critics (e.g. Festival favorite Donna Seaman), writers (e.g. Dorothy Allison, who graced the CHF... Continue Reading >>
Richard Ford's Canada
The recently departed Helen Gurley Brown would not have approved. Any reader of Sex and the Single Girl knows that on a summer Saturday night the unattached should be out and gallivanting about. But the single gal of Brown’s era didn’t have one important attraction to keep them couch-bound on such a cloudless, breezy eve: Richard Ford’s hunk of a new novel, Canada. The premise is tantalizing – a bank robbery gone wrong in a small Midwestern town. I’d already read an... Continue Reading >>
Spudnik Press: Chicago's Community Print Shop
When I listen to the Anthology of American Folk Music on my iPod, I can hear the vinyl crackle underneath Chubby Parker’s frolicking King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O —one era’s technology audible in this one. Harry Smith, an eccentric and bohemian, was the man behind this unprecedented compilation of early American music. Smith, who was primarily bi-coastal with stints in New York’s Lower East Side and the West coast, also found himself for a time in Boulder, Colorado. A friend of the poet... Continue Reading >>
A Literary Superstar
  No matter your reading taste, it isn’t often that you encounter a writer who’s a living legend.  Jonathan Franzen is one of those writers – his reputation as a novelist and a thinker loom impressively in our literary landscape. His own relationship to his place in contemporary literature has at times seemed uneasy. Despite authoring two novels and a handful of essays, it wasn’t until The Corrections came out in 2001, just days after September 11, that he was catapulted to writerly... Continue Reading >>
Reading (and riding) the Lake Shore Limited
If you commute via public transportation you know the sensation well. Seat secured, book (or fill-in-digital e-book device) in hand, several minutes into the ride you realize that you’re nearly at your stop (or, if you’re in the middle of a particularly riveting scene, missed it altogether.) Inconveniences of backtracking aside, it’s an exquisite feeling. Not every writer is so engrossing as to create a fictional world that so completely overcomes our present one. Sue Miller is that rare writer.... Continue Reading >>
Once upon a time...
An Evening of Modern Fairy Tales Thursday, April 7; 6:00 pm Harold Washington Library Center FREE event! Click here to reserve seats for the program. “Once upon a time…” It’s with such simplicity that so many satisfying stories begin; a line at once expected and unfailingly seductive. For many of us, fairy tales are the foundation of our reading lives, following the archetypal characters (read: innocent young beauty tortured by evil stepmother miraculously rescued... Continue Reading >>
Doctor/Writers
I had a moment while programming our fall Festival when I realized that most of all that I know about neonatology, the niche within medicine that focuses on the care of the tiniest of babies, is from the writer Perri Klass’s The Mystery of Breathing; a book I read in manuscript form as an editorial associate at Houghton Mifflin as an assistant to Klass’s then-editor, Janet Silver. Klass was on my mind because she was the first doctor-writer we lighted upon when conceiving of a program we’re... Continue Reading >>