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What initially drew me to the book was, of course, its intriguing title and colorful cover. I know, I know. You’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover. But honestly, whose curiosity wouldn’t be peaked by a book entitled Blue Jesus?

 Luckily, the inside of the book proved just as interesting as its outside. Blue Jesus tells the story of Buddy, a ten-year-old boy white boy often bullied for being less masculine than what is expected of him, and his best friend Early, a boy looked down upon because of his skin color—blue. (Why yes, you did read that right. Early is blue with white hair. And interestingly, author Tom Edwards informs us in an afterword that blue skin is a recessive gene, and that in the 1800s, there were actual blue people living in the southern Appalachians. How cool is that?)

Within the first ten pages, Buddy and Early find a dead baby in their small Georgia town’s dump, and if that isn’t surprising enough, Early manages to do the impossible—bring the baby back to life. And, as expected, complete chaos follows.

 The book gracefully deals with sensitive issues—child abuse, adolescence and its abrupt end, death and its toll on those left behind, and the existence of God are all weaved throughout the novel. Its messages are profound, but sometimes too much so. Although told through Buddy’s eyes, at times I felt I was reading the observations of someone much older. Still, the novel left me with a different perspective of the world, and that’s something all good books should strive to do.

And can I just say plot twist? Totally didn’t see that ending coming, and I’m usually pretty astute about these things.

I highly recommend Blue Jesus. Check it out here!

~Ashley

 Could literary events survive without Chicago? Could Chicago survive without literary events?

Whatever the answer, here is a list of this month’s upcoming events.

Tuesday, August 13

Word Is Out reading series is the brainchild of OutLoud Chicago and In Our Words blog. The season opener, It Takes Two, features stories told in pairs because some stories need more than one voice to be heard. For $5 check them out at:

The Hideout (7 pm)

1354 W Wabansia, Chicago IL

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The Seven Deadly Sins Reading Series tells stories involving; you guessed it, the seven deadly sins. Performers pick a sin and a medium (mixed media, poetry, comedy, storytelling, etc.) to tell their tale.  Always fun, occasionally intense, this is a show worth checking out. Catch them a:

Café Mustache (8 pm)

2313 N Milwaukee, Chicago IL

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Thursday, August 15

On the Wall: Zine Art Meets Gallery Art is the first event co-sponsored by Quimby’s bookstore and Strange Beauty Show! This show features zine and comic art on display as well as for purchase.

If that isn’t enough to get you there, entry is free and there are cocktails, treats and karaoke! Now who doesn’t want some tunes to go with their books? Sing it out at:

Strange Beauty Show (7 pm)

1118 N Ashland, Chicago IL

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Thursday, August 22

Patricia Ann McNair, author of The Temple of Air, will be discussing her short story collection at the Beverly Arts Center. Afterwards stick around for a book exchange! Bring up to five books that you have loved (or hated) and exchange them with others for a new library. It’s free admissions with a cash bar. Get new books at:

Beverly Arts Center (7 pm)

2407 West 111th, Chicago IL

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Monday, August 26

Held on the last Monday of every month, Do Not Submit gives readers 7 minute per story to try out material that is experimental and raw. Told in an intimate space, so intimate that they don’t even need a microphone, gives readers a chance to hone their performance skills. The event is BYOB and free to the public. Get your story (and drank) on at:

Powell’s Bookstore (7pm)

2850 N Lincoln, Chicago IL

 

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Thursday, August 29

Seven Stories-The Line Between has actors accompany the storyteller on stage. This vibrant reading series is having its

third ever performance this August. Along with actors, there are props, music and a drag queen host. Founded by students at Columbia College Chicago, this gutsy reading series is always entertaining. Come be interactive at:

Martin’s Corner (8 pm)

2058 W 22 Place in Pilsen, Chicago IL

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Sorry for being super lame and not posting for however long it’s been.

We are never (ever) going to let that happen again. Keep checking out our blog to see spotlights on our  books, intern picks, book reviews, author interviews and everything else a literary nerd could ever want.

There’s a new batch of interns hanging out around Academy Chicago Publishers and we’re dedicated to updating this shindig.

What if the hierarchical gaps between publishers, writers and readers were smaller? What if an entire community was engaged in the process of producing a book, just as much as the publisher or the author?

These are the questions Richard Nash, publishing entrepreneur and founder of Cursor and Red Lemonade, is asking. It’s no secret that the book market is becoming increasingly one-dimensional, and to become a best-seller it seems that you need the solid prerequisites of fame, fortune or connections. How many small-town genius writers are out there querying publishers with their manuscript, only to be rejected in lieu of the next Twlight or Fifty Shades of Grey series?

Richard Nash’s goal is to bring the publishing industry back into the hands of the people – democracy at last. Simply put, it’s a website where individuals post their manuscript up on a forum to receive critique and feedback from fellow writers and readers. The format is incredibly similar to Scribophile, but there’s a catch – Red Lemonade seeks to publish the best works written and voted for by the people.

A quick glance at Red Lemonade’s site will tell you that it still needs some work – the layout and color scheme is less than engaging, and the origins of the name dubious – but the idea behind this platform is wonderfully innovative, and I sincerely hope it takes off.

Interested in submitting your stuff? Check out Red Lemonade’s About page to learn more.

-Genevieve

No matter what, YA mythology books will never go out of style. Even now in my 20’s, they’re my comfort reads, and there’s nothing better than sinking into a good Madeleine L’Engle or Francesca Lia Block novel at the end of a cold winter’s day. Here’s a few events around town that may spark your interest if these writers are your favorite, too. Have fun!

Feel like what you write may be geared more towards adolescents than adults? A panel of young adult authors, including Yelena Black and Robin Benway, will be having a discussion on young adult literature, as well as upcoming fads in the genre. Come on over and take some notes on Wednesday, February 27th, 7 P.M. at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave.

Doesn’t matter what time of year it is – I still love a chilling horror story! The Chicago Writers Conference will be having a reading on all matter of things supernatural – from ghouls and ghosts to prancing unicorns. Bring a buddy and see you there on Thursday, February 28th, 6:30 PM at Open Books, 213 W. Institute Pl.

Who’d have thought that escorting souls into the afterlife involved so much…paperwork? Well, at least it does in Christina Henry’s fast-paced urban fantasy novel Black Wings, which features a female protagonist with new found magical powers and a stranger-than-customary roommate. She’ll be having a book signing on Friday, March 1st, 7 PM at Challengers Comics & Conversations, 1845 N. Western Ave.

Remember reading those “create your own adventure” books when you were a kid? Well, now you can enjoy your favorite novels as an adult and get to pick a cool new ending! The creators of Second Life have come out with an awesome storytelling platform called Versu, in which you can become a character in a famous book, like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and as you read the story you can pick and choose the actions your character does to create a unique ending to the book.

Pretty fun way to start your day, eh? You can read more about the new app here!

If you’re reading this: congratulations! Not only have you survived the Mayan apocalypse, but you’ve lived through one more Valentine’s Day, and won’t have to endure the sore sight of roses and hearts galore for another year. To help place it all behind you, we’ve put together a list of literary events to put the spring back in your step.

Curious about economics, but hesitant about picking up the For Dummies version? Have no fear, Charles Wheelan is here! His new bestseller, Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science unravels the jargon of fiances and makes it accessible and easy-to-understand for the everyday layperson. Plus, not a bad book to read with tax season dawning upon us. Pick up a signed copy! Tuesday, February 19 at 12 pm, University Club of Chicago, 76 E. Monroe

Many of us would love to bask in the limelight of fame and fortune – but what would it be like, really? Christine Sneed gives us a glimpse of this sought-after lifestyle in her debut novel Little Known Facts, about two grown children of a star who struggle with forging identities away from the dazzling fame of their father. Hear her read on Thursday, Feb 21, 7:30 pm at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St.

We’d all travel the world…if only we had the money. But maybe we don’t need the big bucks after all! Matt Kepnes’s book How To Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter is an excellent resource for post-college grads looking for the ultimate backpacking experience. Lucky for us, he’ll be landing in Chicago for a reading on Thursday, February 21, 7:30 pm at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave.

Literature isn’t all studious thought and dusty libraries. Funny Ha-Ha: The Triumphant Return! will be having a reading, and it’s sure to be a riot. 21+ only, $5 at the door, and proceeds benefit the Neighborhood Writing Alliance. See you there Friday, February 22, 6:30 pm at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave.

Have a great week and hang in there, Chicago: just a few more weeks until spring!

-Genevieve

 

 

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Don’t have plans yet? Yeah, me neither. Though I have a funny feeling that around 6 PM Thursday evening a 2009 bottle of The Prisoner is going to be singing my name in warm, seductive tones. Sigh. But enough about my fantasies. What about yours?

Lucky for you, I’ve put together a list of events that are sure to keep your heart pumping. A lover, a glass of wine and a reading are all you need to get those endorphins going.

If biology is what does it for you, be sure to stop in and see the discoverer of Tiktaalik Neil Shubin, who will be promoting his new book The Universe Within, which takes us on an intimate exploration of our bodies to understand how humans evolved from the earth and galaxies around us. Pretty steamy, eh? One could do worse. Monday, February 11th, 6 PM at Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St.

Looking for something a little more…bittersweet? Less optimistic, perhaps? Next on the menu is Gillian Flynn, appearing to chat about her career and sign copies of her novel Gone Girl, about a wife’s sudden disappearance and the town’s insistence that her husband was the murderer. Probably not a recommended read if you’ve already sent out your save-the-dates. Wednesday, February 13th, 6 PM at Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St.

If you’re single and looking to add some digits to your little black book, why not attend the perfect medley of a reading-mixer? Especially one that prides itself on “destroying fake holidays by celebrating them.” Titled “Angela Merkel is Dead” (I’m sure you’ll find all the answers to your questions on attendance), the mixer is sure to be a riot. Thursday, February 14th, 6:30 PM at Township, 220 N. California Ave.

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, don’t they? And literary gems are sure to abound at Poetry Made of Diamonds, an event that features Chicago’s own poets – some published, some not. Sunday, February 17th, 7 PM at Uncharted Books, 2630 N. Milwaukee Ave.

-Genevieve

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