On the last day of summer, a young college grad moves to Chicago and rents a small apartment on the north side of the city, by the lake. This is the story of the five seasons he lives there, during which he meets gangsters, gamblers, policemen, a brave and garrulous bus driver, a cricket player, a librettist, his first girlfriend, a shy apartment manager, and many other riveting souls, not to mention a wise and personable dog of indeterminate breed.
A love letter to Chicago, the Great American City, and a wry account of a young man’s coming-of-age during the one summer in White Sox history when they had the best outfield in baseball, Chicago is a novel that will plunge you into a city you will never forget and may well wish to visit for the rest of your days.
BRIAN DOYLE (1956-2017) was the longtime editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He was the author of six collections of essays, two nonfiction books, two collections of “proems,” the short story collection Bin Laden’s Bald Spot, the novella Cat’s Foot, and the novels Mink River, The Plover, and Martin Marten. He is also the editor of several anthologies, including Ho`olaule`a, a collection of writing about the Pacific islands.
Doyle’s books have seven times been finalists for the Oregon Book Award, and his essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion, The American Scholar, The Sun, The Georgia Review, and in newspapers and magazines around the world, including The New York Times, The Times of London, and The Age (in Australia). His essays have also been reprinted in the annual Best American Essays, Best American Science & Nature Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies.
Among various honors for his work is a Catholic Book Award, three Pushcart Prizes, the John Burroughs Award for Nature Essays, Foreword Reviews' Novel of the Year award in 2011, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2008 (previous recipients include Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O’Connor, and Mary Oliver).
Praise for Chicago
“In this gorgeous novel, the protagonist is the setting. Although it’s full of interesting characters and surprising events, and the narrative is spun with great skill, the true spell it casts on the reader is the spell of atmosphere, its portrait of a time and place so complete that this becomes reading experience that feels like a life experience—the details are that vivid, and the immersion that complete. Chicago is memorable, original, and full of passionate exploration.”
—Laura Kasischke, National Book Critics Circle Award winner for Space, In Chains
"Page follows page of evocative writing as Doyle celebrates "the shopkeepers and cops and nuns and bus drivers and carpenters and teachers who composed the small vibrant villages that collectively were the real Chicago." The quiet introspection and cleareyed focus on a vibrant and powerful American city makes Doyle's paean to Chicago a literary jewel."
"This heartfelt collection of vignettes is woven together by the narrator’s earnest love of life and people and his desire to grow in his surroundings. Through the lens of one man’s first foray into adulthood, Doyle pens a moving ode to the city of Chicago and the singular nature of its people. A warm and entertaining journey of discovery with occasional amazing quirks."
—Booklist (starred review)
"Doyle's charming tale of a young man's brief residency in this 'rough and burly city in the middle of America.'" —Chicago Reader
"A lyrical coming of age story. ... While Doyle's reputation as a gentle storyteller precedes him I've encountered his essays online I wasn't prepared for the sheer musicality of his prose, which is positively Fitzgeraldian."
"As its title suggests, Chicago’s foremost subject is the city itself, and the book is very much a paean to Chicago."
“This coming-of-age novel follows a young grad student who moves to the city and meets a wide cast of colorful characters during his five-season stay. Described as ‘a love letter to Chicago,’ Doyle's novel takes us back to a Chicago of years ago that feels both foreign and familiar.”
“Brian Doyle’s Chicago, despite breaking all the rules in the fictionist’s handbook, works. It is certainly the best book I’ve read this year.”
—Washington Independent Review of Books
Praise for Brian Doyle
"Doyle is a born storyteller." —Seattle Times
"Brian Doyle writes with Melville's humor, Whitman's ecstasy, and Faulkner's run-on sentences." —Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See
"Brian Doyle’s writing is driven by his passion for the human, touchable, daily life, and equally for the untouchable mystery of all else." —Mary Oliver, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
"Brian Doyle has a fine quick mind alert for anomaly and quirk—none of them beyond his agile pen." —Peter Matthiessen, National Book Award-winning author of Shadow Country
“Doyle's sleights of hand, word, and reality burr up off the page the way bits of heather burr out of a handmade Irish sweater yet the same sweater is stained indigenous orange by a thousand Netarts Bay salmonberries.” —David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and The River Why