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Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago

by Ben Hecht University of Chicago Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 296 pages
AU$37.99 NZ$39.99
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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In 1921, Ben Hecht wrote a column for the Chicago Daily News that his editor called “journalism extraordinary; journalism that invaded the realm of literature.” Hecht’s collection of sixty-four of these pieces, illustrated with striking pen drawings by Herman Rosse, is a timeless caricature of urban American life in the jazz age, updated with a new Introduction for the twenty-first century. From the glittering opulence of Michigan Avenue to the darkest ruminations of an escaped convict, from captains of industry to immigrant day laborers, Hecht captures 1920s Chicago in all its furor, intensity, and absurdity.

“The hardboiled audacity and wit that became Hecht’s signature as Hollywood’s most celebrated screen-writer are conspicuous in these vignettes. Most of them are comic and sardonic, some strike muted tragic or somber atmospheric notes. . . . The best are timeless character sketches that have taken on an added interest as shards of social history.”—L. S. Klepp, Voice Literary Supplement

A Self-Made Man An Iowa Humoresque An Old Audience Speaks Clocks and Owl Cars Confessions Coral, Amber and Jade Coeur De Lion and The Soup and Fish Dapper Pete and The Sucker Play Dead Warrior Don Quixote and His Last Windmill "Fa'n Ta Mig!" Fanny Fantastic Lollypops Fog Patterns Grass Figures Ill-Humoresque Jazz Band Impressions Letters Meditation in E Minor Michigan Avenue Mishkin's Minyon Mottka Mr. Winkelberg Mrs. Rodjezke's Last Job Mrs. Sardotopolis' Evening Off Night Diary Nirvana Notes For a Tragedy On A Day Like This Ornaments Pandora's Box Pitzela's Son Queen Bess' Feast Ripples Satraps At Play Schopenhauer's Son Sergt. Kuzick's Waterloo Sociable Gamblers Ten-Cent Wedding Rings The Auctioneer's Wife The Dagger Venus The Exile The Great Traveler The Indestructible Masterpiece The Lake The Little Fop The Man From Yesterday The Man Hunt The Man With a Question The Mother The Pig The Snob The Soul of Sing Lee The Sybarite The Tattooer The Thing In The Dark The Watch Fixer The Way Home Thumbnail Lotharios Thumbs Up and Down To Bert Williams Vagabondia Waterfront Fancies Where The "Blues" Sound World Conquerors

"Hecht's youthful journalism remains both movving and dazzling. He sided with the scrappy underdog and was endlessly alert to the moods of the great city that was his subject. . . . Saul Bellow read this book while still in high school and would always remember it, maybe because Hecht's sketches, while sometimes gritty and violent in content, also present a quest for lyricism and hope."

Ben Hecht (1894–1964) was a reporter and columnist for the Chicago Daily Journal and the Chicago Daily News as well as a playwright, novelist, short story writer, and scriptwriter.