“Ed McElroy, clear of eye, sound of mind, and eighty-three years of age . . . guides his black Cadillac down Halsted Street.” So begins longtime Chicago journalist Neil Steinberg’s nuanced homage to Ed McElroy: an old-school, behind-the-scenes backscratcher who has driven the rich, powerful, and well-connected around the city, doing favors and calling them in, for decades. Helping a young Steinberg understand the city, McElroy and his take on how a Mayor’s son gets to be Mayor and how a wily up-and-comer marries the daughter of a powerful alderman and later becomes governor would enthrall even the most seasoned Chicagoan. In this drive around town and through time, Steinberg ultimately serves up audacious and funny anecdotes about how it helps to stay connected, to know a guy, and to help people out when you can.
“There’s still time to change things.”—Siri Hustvedt, The Blazing World
Addiction is easy to fall into and hard to escape. It destroys the lives of individuals, and has a devastating cost to society. The National Institute of Health estimates seventeen million adults in the United States are alcoholics or have a serious problem with alcohol. At the same time, the country is seeing entire communities brought to their knees because of opioid additions. These scourges affect not only those who drink or use drugs but also their families and friends, who witness the horror of addiction. With Out of the Wreck I Rise, Neil Steinberg and Sara Bader have created a resource like no other—one that harnesses the power of literature, poetry, and creativity to illuminate what alcoholism and addiction are all about, while forging change, deepening understanding, and even saving lives.
Structured to follow the arduous steps to sobriety, the book marshals the wisdom of centuries and explores essential topics, including the importance of time, navigating family and friends, relapse, and what Raymond Carver calls “gravy,” the reward that is recovery. Each chapter begins with advice and commentary followed by a wealth of quotes to inspire and heal. The result is a mosaic of observations and encouragement that draws on writers and artists spanning thousands of years—from Seneca to David Foster Wallace, William Shakespeare to Patti Smith. The ruminations of notorious drinkers like John Cheever, Charles Bukowski, and Ernest Hemingway shed light on the difficult process of becoming sober and remind the reader that while the literary alcoholic is often romanticized, recovery is the true path of the hero.
Along with traditional routes to recovery—Alcoholics Anonymous, out-patient therapy, and intensive rehabilitation programs—this literary companion offers valuable support and inspiration to anyone seeking to fight their addiction or to a struggling loved one.
Featuring Charles Bukowski, John Cheever, Dante, Ricky Gervais, Ernest Hemingway, Billie Holiday, Anne Lamott, John Lennon, Haruki Murakami, Anaïs Nin, Mary Oliver, Samuel Pepys, Rainer Maria Rilke, J. K. Rowling, Patti Smith, Kurt Vonnegut, and many more.
You Were Never in Chicago
Neil Steinberg University of Chicago Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3569.T37548Z46 2013 | Dewey Decimal 818.5403
In 1952 the New Yorker published a three-part essay by A. J. Liebling in which he dubbed Chicago the "Second City." From garbage collection to the skyline, nothing escaped Liebling's withering gaze. Among the outraged responses from Chicago residents was one that Liebling described as the apotheosis of such criticism: a postcard that read, simply, "You were never in Chicago."
Neil Steinberg has lived in and around Chicago for more than three decades—ever since he left his hometown of Berea, Ohio, to attend Northwestern—yet he remains fascinated by the dynamics captured in Liebling's anecdote. In You Were Never in Chicago Steinberg weaves the story of his own coming-of-age as a young outsider who made his way into the inner circles and upper levels of Chicago journalism with a nuanced portrait of the city that would surprise even lifelong residents.
Steinberg takes readers through Chicago's vanishing industrial past and explores the city from the quaint skybridge between the towers of the Wrigley Building, to the depths of the vast Deep Tunnel system below the streets. He deftly explains the city's complex web of political favoritism and carefully profiles the characters he meets along the way, from greats of jazz and journalism to small-business owners just getting by. Throughout, Steinberg never loses the curiosity and close observation of an outsider, while thoughtfully considering how this perspective has shaped the city, and what it really means to belong. Intimate and layered, You Were Never in Chicago will be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of all Chicagoans, be they born in the city or forever transplanted.