Friday, April 20, 2007

Major Evenings


I took the train into Chicago that day, then a taxi from the Northwestern station (a.k.a. Ogilvie Transportation Center) to a nice hotel on Wacker Drive. With all expenses paid by my publisher and a reading scheduled for that night, it was all turning into quite a nice day.

The occasion for the reading was the thirtieth-issue celebration of the literary magazine, Other Voices, published in Chicago. I’d been invited because I’d been published more times in the magazine than any other writer.

At around five I took a taxi from the hotel to the Guild Complex off of Division Street. Even though we’d crawled along during rush hour I was still early and, finding the place locked, went to a nearby McDonald’s for a coffee.

Eventually I met Gina Frangello, the editor, at the Guild Complex, along with some of her staff. Still flush with the publication of my first book, I felt royally feted and it was a good feeling.

I read a story that night about a young girl who’d been kidnapped years ago in the town where I lived: fiction building its support beams from real life. When I finished reading, though, an odd thing happened.

The editors of that issue had just begun doing something that a number of publications are doing today; that is, asking the author of a story for some brief comments on the story – how it came to be, motivating thoughts, etc. Here’s what I wrote and what I read that night:

If the Fifties are sometimes painted as a time of peaceful, postwar innocence … it is perhaps because we are used to seeing our children gunned down in groups today, often in their classrooms or schoolyards.

Keep in mind that that passage was written some months before publication and before that night, which was April 20, 1999 – the day of the Columbine High School murders.

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