Oak Park-based journalist Alex Kotlowitz tackled race and urban poverty in his acclaimed books There Are No Children Here and The Other Side of the River, but he gets to chill–a bit–in his latest, Never a City So Real: A Walk in Chicago, published as part of the “Crown Journeys” series of literary travelogues. Shunning guidebook formulae, Kotlowitz examines some of the city’s neighborhoods by profiling their residents: steelworker and labor leader Ed Sadlowski personifies South Chicago; artist Milton Reed (“the Diego Rivera of the projects”) enlivens the section on Bronzeville; defense attorney Andrea Lyon gives a heart to the Cook County Criminal Courthouse at 26th and California. “This is a city in motion, a place of passages,” says Kotlowitz, and his Algrenesque portraits reveal that in human terms, as each subject leads him through his or her corner of a changing city. A lot of these “walks,” by the way, end up in the writer’s favorite restaurants–Manny’s, Edna’s, Mac Arthur’s–so this is best read on a full stomach. Kotlowitz discusses Never a City So Real at 7 PM on Tuesday, September 7, at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th, 773-684-1300, and at 7 PM on Thursday, September 9, at the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, 811 Elm, Winnetka, 847-446-8880.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kevin Horan.