Between the harsh winters (seriously, go away!) and the seemingly never-ending cycle of sad and unfortunate events that happen in our city, we can sometimes forget how awesome Chicago can be. Well, relapse no more. In Aleksandar Hemon's The Book of My Lives, the famed author tells two epic love stories: the first, with his native country of Bosnia, and also, of his second and current marriage to the Jewel of the Midwest, Chicago.
With a Guggenheim fellowship, a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature, and the PEN/W. G. Sebald Award under Hemon's belt, expect nothing but an intimate, masterfully conceptualized, and beautiful portrayal of the city we call home. But since the book — complete with irony and honest humor — is not available until March 19, check out Chicago magazine's in-depth profile of the former Bosnian refugee, which includes an excerpt of his new release, entitled "Reasons Why I Do Not Wish to Leave Chicago: An Incomplete, Random List." Random it is; wrong it is not. We loved this list so much, we picked out five of our favorites to remind you just how lucky you are. For the complete excerpt, head over to Chicago magazine and scoop up the book when it hits stores next Tuesday — you'll fall in love all over again. (Chicago Magazine)
"The basketball court at Foster Street beach, where I once watched an impressively sculpted guy play a whole game — dribbling, shooting, arguing, dunking — with a toothpick in his mouth, taking it out only to spit. For many years he was to me the hero of Chicago cool."
"The blessed scarcity of celebrities in Chicago, most of whom are overpaid athlete losers. Oprah, one of the Friends, and many other people whose names I never knew or now cannot recall have all left for New York or Hollywood or rehab, where they can wear the false badge of their humble Chicago roots, while we can claim them without actually being responsible for the vacuity of their front-page lives."
"The highly muggable suburbanites patrolling Michigan Avenue, identifiable by their Hard Rock Café shirts, oblivious to the city beyond the shopping and entertainment areas; the tourists on an architectural speedboat tour looking up at the steep buildings like pirates ready to plunder; the bridges’ halves symmetrically erected like jousting pricks; the street performer in front of the Wrigley Building performing 'Killing Me Softly' on the tuba."
"The fact that every year in March, the Cubs fans start saying: 'This year might be it!'— a delusion betrayed as such by the time summer arrives, when the Cubs traditionally lose even a mathematical possibility of making it to the play-offs. The hopeless hope is one of the early harbingers of spring, bespeaking an innocent belief that the world might right its wrongs and reverse its curses simply because the trees are coming into leaf."
"If Chicago was good enough for Studs Terkel to spend a lifetime in, it is good enough for me."
Photo: Courtesy of Choose Chicago.