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Opening Monologue: Chicago Lit

The following is a transcript of the opening monologue I do at the top of each show on WGN Radio. My show, the Saturday Night Special, is a single-topic program on which I discuss one topic all night. This week, I discussed the literary scene in Chicago.

The books we read — both nonfiction and fiction– offer both a retreat from the sometimes confusing and challenging world while also helping us to better understand it and better grasp all of the knowledge we possibly can that exists within in. Indeed, literature and, really, stories of all kinds, help us better understand ourselves, our communities, or histories, the people we know and people on the other side of the world, and even help us try to make sense of big issues that often have many narratives, and of events happening in the world around us.

And, with many things we tackle on this program, there’s always more to it– fiction rarely exists in a vacuum, but rather is often in response to social or political struggles. Literary events, too, play a bigger role than simply hearing someone read while standing at a microphone, but especially in a diversely storied city like ours, who is at said microphone matters, just as it matters who is in the audience. Memoir, too, is not simply telling one’s own story, but it, also, can be a tool used in response to silenced voices. So as ever, while our topic tonight is the simple and unassuming book, regardless of it being read on a page or on a screen, the topic nonetheless is a rich one, and one with many stories hidden below the surface.

Tonight, we’re reconvening our annual literary discussion, to talk about books we love, books that moved us, Chicago-connected books and their histories, literary events we’re excited about, and the importance of different genres of literature. And, of course, we’ll also take a look at the Chicago literary community, and why there’s nothing 2nd city about it.

And while we can’t possibly fit them all into tonight’s show, this Chicago literary program– already our third one as of tonight– is a love letter to the many writers who make up the literary community of Chicago, those here now, those yet to arrive, and those now long gone. Each word has built the pantheon that is Chicago lit, and while plenty of writers have been merely passing through our fine city, Chicago– the city of work, of getting it done and all without a scrap of pretension– leaves little marks in their work.

I’m Amy Guth and it’s time for the Saturday Night Special on WGN Radio.

(break for show opening music)

Tonight on the program, we’ll be talking with members of the Chicago literary community about Chicago-connected books, literary events we’re excited about,and about what makes the writerly world of Chicago work.

We’ll be talking with historian Max Grinnell about the origins of lit in Chicago, with Cole Lavalais, founder and director of Chicago Writers Studio, with Rose Lanin who co-curates the Miss Spoken reading series here in Chicago about it and other live lit events, and with author and journalist Michele Weldon about the important role of memoir when we talk about including all voices in the conversation.

We’ll be right back to get the conversation underway, on 720-WGN.

(Listen to full show)