// WORD UP!

THANKS TO THE NEW AMER­I­CAN WRIT­ERS MU­SEUM (NOT TO MEN­TION A SLEW OF SUM­MER-PER­FECT RE­LEASES FROM CHICAGO AU­THORS), THE CITY’S LIT­ER­ARY SCENE IS HAV­ING A SE­RI­OUS MO­MENT.

Michigan Avenue - - CONTENTS - BY THOMAS CON­NORS

Thanks to the new Amer­i­can Writ­ers Mu­seum (and a slew of sum­mer-per­fect re­leases from lo­cal au­thors), the city is hav­ing a se­ri­ous lit­er­ary mo­ment.

If lan­guage is a liv­ing thing, ever mor­ph­ing to meet the ways we com­mu­ni­cate, writ­ing is right there giv­ing shape to voices of ev­ery sort. The newly opened Amer­i­can Writ­ers Mu­seum (AWM) chron­i­cles and cel­e­brates the in­di­vid­u­als whose way with words cre­ate a richly lay­ered na­tional ex­pres­sion. En­com­pass­ing the canon and the com­mon, from po­etry and nov­els to jour­nal­ism and comic books, Chicago’s lat­est cul­tural in­sti­tu­tion is no old-school athenaeum. “We’re not putting books un­der glass,” as­sures mu­seum pres­i­dent Carey Cranston. “The AWM is very in­ter­ac­tive, more like a science mu­seum than a li­brary.”

The ex­hibits—de­vel­oped by Bos­ton’s Amaze De­sign—in­clude a map that al­lows vis­i­tors to plug in a ZIP code and learn about writ­ers from their neck of the woods, and Word Water­fall, an art-like in­stal­la­tion of im­agery and sound spun of pas­sages from fa­mous works. AWM pro­gram­ming will in­clude read­ings, work­shops, and tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tions, such as an in­au­gu­ral dis­play fea­tur­ing the 120-foot long roll of pa­per on which Jack Ker­ouac typed his gen­er­a­tiondefin­ing novel On the Road. Like a good book, the Amer­i­can Writ­ers Mu­seum is bound to be re­vis­ited, again and again. 180 N. Michi­gan Ave., Sec­ond Fl., 312374-8790; amer­i­can­writ­ers mu­seum.org

GOOD READS: 5 BEACH-READY NEW RE­LEASES FROM CHICAGO AU­THORS

The best of sum­mer is sim­ple: sun, sand, burg­ers, ball­games—and a good read for those days when all you want is a lit­tle alone time in a gen­tly sway­ing ham­mock. Hap­pily, our home­town scrib­blers have just the thing. Christina Henry, whose best-sell­ing Alice reimag­ined the ad­ven­tures of Lewis Car­roll’s lit­tle girl, works her magic on J.M. Bar­rie with her Peter Pan pre­quel, Lost Boy: The True Story of Cap­tain Hook (Berkley Books, $16). And for Mil­len­ni­als strug­gling with the whole adult­ing thing, writer/ co­me­dian Andy Boyle spells it all out in Adult­hood for Be­gin­ners (Tarcher­perigee, $16). The Ready­made Thief (Vik­ing, $26), a de­but novel from Univer­sity of Chicago cre­ative writ­ing pro­fes­sor Au­gus­tus Rose, pits a 17-year-old against a cult of Mar­cel Duchamp en­thu­si­asts whose aims are any­thing but artis­tic. Mar­cus Sakey imag­ines his own odd re­al­ity in the Chicago-set Af­ter­life (Thomas & Mercer, $16), which has al­ready been op­tioned by Ron Howard and Brian Glazer’s Imag­ine En­ter­tain­ment. “My char­ac­ters wan­der an aban­doned Mag­nif­i­cent Mile, ‘shop­ping’ by smash­ing the glass and tak­ing what­ever they like,” shares Sakey. “They make a home at the Lang­ham Ho­tel, drag­ging fur­ni­ture to the street to host heav­ily-armed block par­ties be­fore crash­ing in the suites.” And Scott Turow fans will want to grab a copy of his lat­est, Tes­ti­mony (Grand Cen­tral Pub­lish­ing, $28), in which he takes read­ers to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court in The Hague, where a US prose­cu­tor in­ves­ti­gates the dis­ap­pear­ance of a refugee camp dur­ing the Bos­nian War. All that is to say: Slap on the sun­screen and get read­ing.

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