In Dime Stories, a collection of 86 essays from his freewheeling Newcity column, artist-poet-writer Tony Fitzpatrick discourses on a wide range of topics: politics, movies, books, nature, guns, crime, art, history, comics, his dog Chooch, you name it. By design and by nature, the essays are highly opinionated, and Fitzpatrick has some strong, heartfelt opinions, rendered in often lovely and always frank prose.
Fitzpatrick contains multitudes. He can be harsh on politicians: Mayor Rahm Emanuel is “petty and vindictive,” yet Fitzpatrick admits he doesn’t have the capacity to be completely fair: “I’ve despised his ilk [the ‘new, squishy, malleable Democrats’] from the beginning.” He considers former Mayor Jane Byrne admirable, but also writes of her: “Did she make mistakes? Did she rat-fuck her enemies? Of course she did.” And Fitzpatrick sure loves birds, but can be dismissive and outright contemptuous of snooty birders.
He has loving remembrances of his friends Lou Reed, Studs Terkel, and Roger Ebert, and another about photographer Art Shay, but his pieces on other Chicago characters whose names aren’t so revered, and never will be, are equally enlightening—and, more often than not, funny as hell.
In sum, this is a collection of life observations from a guy who’s likely seen more of life than most of us.
You’d be well served to dwell on the intricate collages that accompany each essay. Rendered in exquisite detail, they come out a lot more beautiful on glossy paper in book form than they do in newsprint.