In the Tribune on Sunday:
* Porter Shreve reviews John McNally’s Book of Ralph. “McNally’s uncanny portraits of adolescent desire, confusion and bad behavior led T. Coraghessan Boyle to compare him to an American Roddy Doyle. McNally’s strength as a short-story writer is to capture, in brief, vibrant sequences, those moments when boys realize but refuse to concede that they can’t be boys forever.”
* Laura Demanski reviews the second volume of memoirs from critic and editor Ted Solotaroff, First Loves. “Writing from what one thinks is fiction rather than from what one knows of life commonly occurs among beginning writers. It is the mistake that any serious writing teacher will immediately spot and prescribe for. But I was to remain blithely unaware of it. The story won second prize and I was off and running, away from my discernment, away from the experiences that led to it, away from their pain and complexity.”
* Nathan Bierma briefly interviews Jim McManus on his newfound, poker-powered fame. “Your book is a bestseller, plus you won $250,000 at the World Series. Was this a gamble that paid off? Since I won, I can say it was the right call. People think it changed my poker life. It really changed my writing life. I have a two-book contract with arguably the best publisher in New York [Farrar, Strauss & Giroux], and now a pretty good deal with Esquire.”
Meanwhile, in the Sun-Times:
* An account of a campaign to have the city honor James T. Farrell in his centenary year. “Once they present petitions to the city, they hope officials will declare a James T. Farrell day, give the author an honorary street name, erect a statue of him in Washington Park, which appears frequently in his novels, and select Farrell’s 1932 novel Young Lonigan for the city’s “One Book, One Chicago” reading program. Any city commemoration would be separate from events already planned by the Newberry Library on May 21-22 and the Society of Midland Authors on Oct. 12.” (I count only two statues in town that are dedicated to authors: Shakespeare and Goethe.)
* In the literary calendar, a mention of Edwidge Danticat’s reading at Borders on W. 95th tonight. (Check out Richard Eder’s review in last week’s NYTBR.) The calendar also notes the Beckett biographer Dierdre Bair is in town this week, talking about her recent Jung bio.
Finally, New City mentions that Barbara’s Bookstore on Wells is closing. I know they’ve got the new store at UIC and the spot in Fields; it’s still a bummer.