Literary Companion: Chicago and The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Default / 19/08/2018

Whether you’re visiting, thinking about a trip, or live in Chicago, Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City is a must-read. Written in 2003, this historical non-fiction book is presented in a novelistic style. The story is based on real characters and events, telling the story of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition from the perspective of the designers (including renowned Chicago architect Daniel Burnham) and H.H. Holmes, the notorious serial killer.   Set in 1893 Chicago, Larson artfully incorporates both stories—those of Daniel Burnham and Dr. H.H. Holmes—in a dramatic and revealing fashion. The book is divided into four parts; the first three happen in Chicago between 1890 and 1893, while Part Four takes place in Philadelphia in 1895. Daniel Burnham’s plot line consists of the struggles he overcomes to build and design the World’s Far. The other, strikingly different plot line belongs to Dr. H.H. Holmes a pharmacist turned serial killer who forms a plan to use an abandoned lot close to the Fair to lure in and kill multiple victims, all of whom have traveled to Chicago for the international spectacle.   This book is an essential read for any and all people interested in Chicago. Larson…

Wanderlust Read: Walden; or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau
Default / 26/07/2018

With the advent of the modern travel industry and the globe-setting lifestyle that many people lead today, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden doesn’t even register as a travel book to a lot of people. Borrowing an ax and building a cabin in your friend’s backyard would seem like anything but a wanderlust read. But the impetus behind this act seems to be removing oneself from society in a way that unlocks a specific kind of freedom and wanderlust of the mind. For after building this cabin that could be retreated to when needed for shelter and rest, Thoreau seemed to spend awfully little time in it. Instead, he would walk, hike, climb, and boat his way around the neighborhood on some days, the better part of eastern Massachusetts during some weeks.   In another interesting tidbit of tension, Thoreau had no great love for the new kid on the block when it came to modes of transportation. Though it would take a little more time to fully ensconce itself into American culture, the railroad had already make its way to New England by the mid-19th century when Thoreau was writing. It would seem to many like the railroad held an endless…

Wanderlust Read: On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Default / 22/06/2018

Kerouac’s On the Road has the combination of a poet’s unrelenting free-form lyricism in blank verse—freed from the contrived structure of traditionally staid writing as well as at least some of the formula of conventional storytelling—with the unapologetic mania of youth untethered, unbound by the pages in the present moment of being On the Road, the terrible and terribly beautiful mania of the sleep-deprived, self-medicating, tramp who’s always looking over the next hidden, but beckoning, horizon: IT’s one part Ginsburg Howl, one part Whitman YAWP, and one part Louis Armstrong. And while some plain and plainly busy folk may complain about the overwrought detail, the unfiltered flow of adjectives and adverbs, as well as the sparse use of periods and paragraph breaks, the breakneck pace of the words spilling on to the page like data populating a phone screen many degrees of magnitude too fast to read in real-time—wouldn’t that be nice, even as amazing as our intuitive thinking can be—wouldn’t it be nice to read as fast as a small computer?—while some may complain about occasionally losing the thread of an extended stream of consciousness thought—there is still something piercing and indelible about the writing….even for those who struggle…