Fall is springtime in the arts.
The strange thing about writing these letters each month is the disorientation of time. I’m thinking about the past, both recent and more distant, in order to glean lessons about the near future, that is, the month of publication. I am writing this in the heat of late summer for an audience reading it in the early stages of fall. Those tomatoes ripening in our garden? Not so relevant to you.
This disorientation seeps into real life as well. While they still might be in the future when you read this in September, I’ve been immersed in EXPO Chicago, the Chicago Architecture Biennial and a bevy of fall events since late July and early August. In conversations, sometimes I’ll forget something is new as I’ve been thinking about it so long it’s already stored away in my memory. That’s the nature of publishing: we live in the future so much that we’re prone to think about the past.
While Newcity has been searching for a new lit editor, a search that should be completed when you read this, I filled in for a few months. While it’s a lot of extra work, it’s also a lot of extra fun if you love books as much as I do. In the process, I discovered that two old friends were returning with new works this fall, works that represented a significant passage of time. Carol Anshaw—who I got to know twenty-five years ago when I profiled her on the occasion of her first novel—is coming out with “Right After the Weather” in October, seven years after her last novel, and Chris Ware’s “Rusty Brown” hits the shelves this month. I interviewed Chris in this issue, and the passage of time is central to the book. He started writing the story back in 2000, in our pages, when we were all much younger, and Newcity was a very different place. His book affected me deeply, not only in its own magnificent narrative and imagery, but also in the way it cascaded my own memories in two directions, both the years before, when Chris was a weekly presence in our office, and the years after, when he’d become a national sensation while the bottom fell out of our industry and our business, and we went into a long battle for survival.
The good news is, we did survive. And we’re on our way to thriving again, with a reimagining of the publication and our business these last few years. We’ve begun a transition to paid subscriptions, expanded into custom publishing—you’ll see evidence of that this month, with the official EXPO Chicago guide and The SEEN—and, perhaps most dramatically, we’ve entered the movie business. There’s a lot to share about that in future months, as “Knives and Skin” hits Chicago theaters before long, and “Dreaming Grand Avenue” gets its finishing touches. Oh, and we’re launching The Chicago Film Fund, too.
I sometimes feel like I must sound like some sorry old dude wallowing in nostalgia, but in real life, it’s all about the future. See you there.
Look for Newcity’s September 2019 print edition at over 1000 Chicago-area locations this week.