Nigerian-born author, newly installed Chicagoan, and professor of English at Northwestern University, is on the same page with:
Every Day Is for the Thief by Teju Cole I really love this book, which is about the city of Lagos, but really it’s a book about home and homecoming. [The narrator] is born in Nigeria, in Lagos, and then immigrates to America when he’s a child and spends a lot of his adult life here. The book is an extended essay about his first return in almost 20 years. It’s a beautiful work because it’s not just prose but also features amazing photographs by Cole—not documentary images but these strangely arty, black-and-white photographs that are more evocative than descriptive. They totally echo the writing style, which is almost like travel writing—similar to the way Pico Iyer writes. There’s a real melancholy and poetic impulse here that you don’t find in most travel books because usually the writers don’t have this much of a personal investment. I just moved from LA to Chicago five months ago to take up a job here and have been feeling very displaced. This book is a comfort because it’s all about displacement, but about the comfort one can find in displacement.
Abani discusses his recently published thriller, The Secret History of Las Vegas, with fellow writer Bryan Gruley on Wed 4/23, 6:30 PM, at City Lit Books, 2523 N. Kedzie, 773-235-2523, citylitbooks.com.
Kevin J.H. Dettmar,
author of Gang of Four’s Entertainment!, a recent edition of the 33 1/3 series, is having a headbanger’s ball revisiting:
American Thighs by Veruca Salt I’m having a hard time listening to anything but Veruca Salt’s first album, American Thighs. It turns 20 this fall. After legendary acrimony tore the band apart, the original lineup issued a new ten-inch last month for Record Store Day. And they’re touring—they’ll be playing Lincoln Hall in July. When I recently played the album again, I was excited to hear the two songs I could easily recall: “Seether,” the closest thing the band ever had to a hit single, and the weirdly haunting “Forsythia,” an erotic ode—to a shrub? A woman? The color yellow? I’d forgotten that there’s not a false note on the entire record, and the songwriting is impeccable. And I still get goose bumps when Louise Post sings, on “Celebrate You”: “I lost my innocence today / When I learned how to write this.”
Dettmar discussses his book with Gang of Four’s original bassist and drummer, Dave Allen and Hugo Burnham, Fri 5/23, 6 PM, at Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn, 773-752-4381, semcoop.com.