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News From Beyond the Stacks

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 20, 2006 5:15PM

night.jpgJames Frey discovered the glare of the Oprah’s Book Club spotlight isn’t always wine and roses. But Elie Wiesel and his haunting memoir Night, which Oprah selected for the next Book Club reading, isn’t likely to see the same fate. Wiesel's chilling account of life in a Nazi concentration camp and subsequent aftermath has stood up to 50 years of scrutiny. And anyone who suggests the Nobel Peace Prize winner embellished his story risks becoming the biggest jackass ever.

In Night, Oprah likely sought a tale as powerful as Frey’s but with enough literary cred to dodge controversy. Or maybe it’s further proof that the Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago program is a powerful springboard for authors. As we type this, Lookingglass Theatre is premiering the stage adaptation of another One Book selection, Stuart Dybek’s The Coast of Chicago. Even CPL is basking in its validation. Julia Alvarez, Tim O’Brien, we’re expecting big things from you.

justice.jpgNational hype aside, Chicago is still a damn great place to be a bookworm… or to indulge in intellectual stalking at an author reading. Wrongfully convicted felon and South Sider James Newsome joins Dave Eggers, founder of McSweeney’s and the “826” literacy projects and darling of the indie literary world, at Quimby’s next Monday to promote Surviving Justice. This collection of oral histories features Newsome’s and a dozen other tales of exoneration. Monday night, Alex Kotlowitz reads a few presumably happier tales of Chicago from his latest book Never a City So Real at Northwestern. Wednesday, The Book Stall will present Former Ambassador to Iraq Paul Bremer at, fittingly enough, an undisclosed location. He’ll read from My Year in Iraq, then maybe deflect a question or two. Or for some lighter, happier fare check out Patty Carroll’s photos of Elvis impersonators at Barnes & Noble Webster Place on Saturday.

Eggers and Newsome read at Quimby's, 1854 W North Ave, Chicago, Monday at noon.
Kotlowitz reads at Northwestern's Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Monday at 5:30pm.
Paul Bremer reads downtown Wednesday at noon. Call The Book Stall at 847-446-8880 for details.
Patty Carroll signs Living the Life at Barnes & Noble, 1441 W Webster Ave, Chicago, Saturday at 3pm.

Images via Hill and Wang and McSweeney's.