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2012-2013 Selection: Never a City So Real by Alex Kotlowitz
Never a City So Real by Alex Kotlowitz provides an introduction to the city, but less as a tour of the place and more a chronicle of its soul. Through a collection of vignettes about Chicago's diverse people and neighborhoods, the book gives readers a much richer understanding of the city. Never a City So Real provides insight into Chicago's rich history and culture, while also touching on a wide variety of challenging issues such as neighborhood integration, politics, urban poverty, immigration, and public housing. Most of all, it brings to life the diverse people and neighborhoods that make this city so great.
Chicago is one of America’s most iconic, historic, and fascinating cities, as well as a major travel destination. For Alex Kotlowitz, an accidental Chicagoan, it is the perfect perch from which to peer into America’s heart. It’s a place, as one historian has said, of “messy vitalities,” a stew of contradictions: coarse yet gentle, idealistic yet restrained, grappling with its promise, alternately sure and unsure of itself.

Chicago, like America, is a kind of refuge for outsiders. It’s probably why Alex Kotlowitz found comfort there. He’s drawn to people on the outside who are trying to clean up—or at least make sense of—the mess on the inside. Perspective doesn’t come easy if you’re standing in the center. ... It is a tour of the people of Chicago, who have been the author’s guides into this city’s—and in a broader sense, this country’s—heart.
(Crown Journeys, Crown Publishers : New York)  

OBON-NUL 2012-2013 Steering Committee