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My Reading Was Usurped By Slurpees!

ScottFonzCourtesy Scott Kenemore What passes for fun in the Midwest.

We have 7-Eleven stores here in Chicago, thank you very much.

I was supposed to come to New York this month to give a reading from my new novel about a zombie attack on the Windy City. I bought myself a plane ticket (not that expensive on JetBlue, but still) and was all but eagerly clutching it in anticipation. (If you’re not from the Midwest, you might not have a sense of how excited I was: a reading in the East Village, in a cool bar, and as part of the Guerrilla Lit Reading Series was something to look forward to.)

But then the venue — Bar on A — was closed, reportedly to make way for a new 7-Eleven. This development was was harder to swallow than a KZ3™ Battle Fuel Slurpee.

When you’re a writer living in Chicago, you think of New York City as “headquarters.” It’s where your agent and publisher are, where important stuff happens, and where you occasionally get to go for meetings or readings or whatever. It’s fun and cool and inspiring, and filled with interesting things. It’s awesome for writers in ways the metropolis of the Midwest is often not.

Being a writer in Chicago can feel like trying to meet women at a party thrown by a church. I am not the first person to have observed this. In “Chicago: City on the Make,” Nelson Algren bemoans “a city whose pleasures are so chaste” and laments the “hipless biddies entitling themselves ‘Friends of Literature’” who stand ever-ready to throw a stuffy daytime function where the punch is non-alcoholic and the conversation is polite.

Writers don’t want this.

Writers want to go to places like the East Village and womanize and get drunk and meet interesting, daring, wonderful, terrible people. Read more…