Cover image for The coast of Chicago
The coast of Chicago
Dybek, Stuart, 1942-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.
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Central Library FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The stolid landscape of Chicago suddenly turns dreamlike and otherworldly in Stuart Dybek's classic story collection. A child's collection of bottle caps becomes the tombstones of a graveyard. A lowly rightfielder's inexplicable death turns him into a martyr to baseball. Strains of Chopin floating down the tenement airshaft are transformed into a mysterious anthem of loss. Combining homely detail and heartbreakingly familiar voices with grand leaps of imagination, The Coast of Chicago is a masterpiece from one of America's most highly regarded writers.

Author Notes

Stuart Dybek is the award-winning author of I Sailed with Magellan, Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, and Brass Knuckles, a volume of poetry. A professor of English at Western Michigan University, he lives in Kalamazoo

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Without unduly sentimentalizing the experience, Dybek ponders what it was like growing up in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s. In a series of alternating long and short takes, the writer travels back in memory to his old ethnic neighborhood, recalls his early romances, and recounts a creaky urban legend about a young woman's body frozen in a block of ice. Even in the briefest pieces, Dybek effectively sketches in the setting and establishes an individual identity that memorializes a moment in the past. At times the longer stories may appear a bit bloated in comparison, but even there the essence of each event and emotion is fastened in the mind in a skillful and persistent fashion. --John Brosnahan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Dybek ( Childhood and Other Neighborhoods ) here evokes the bizarre mysteries of everyday life in Chicago's gritty ethnic enclaves, the territory of the 14 stories in his second collection. The author's memorable characters lead odd, fairy-tale existences. Marcy in ``Chopin in Winter'' returns home from college pregnant and disgraced, and plays her way through Chopin's piano oeuvre before moving without warning (her note reads simply ``Ma, don't worry'') to a black neighborhood on the city's South Side. In ``Nighthawks,'' a suite of meditations on love and loss, Choco, a conga drummer, is led through the subways on a hauntingly surreal trip inspired by a vision of his dead girlfriend. Dybek's fiction is not without a comic edge: Ziggy Zilinski in ``Blight'' suffers from a recurring nightmare in which atomic bombs drop on Chicago when the White Sox win the pennant. A quote from the Spanish poet Antonio Machado provides the phantasmagoric book with an apt epigraph: ``Out of the whole of memory, there's one thing worthwhile: the great gift of calling back dreams.'' Dybek has this exemplary gift. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Farwellp. 3
Chopin in Winterp. 7
Lightsp. 34
Death of the Right Fielderp. 35
Bottle Capsp. 40
Blightp. 42
Outtakesp. 72
Bijoup. 74
Straysp. 82
Nighthawksp. 83
The Woman Who Faintedp. 119
Hot Icep. 123
Lostp. 165
Pet Milkp. 167

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