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Jackson Whole

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 16, 2006 8:59PM

One of the coolest things we love about The Lookingglass Theatre Company, besides its stage adaptation of Stuart Dybek’s The Coast of Chicago, is its new literary series Writers on Record. Every month or so, Victoria Lautman, a contributor at WBEZ, interviews authors in a free event at the still-newish Lookingglass space in the Water Tower. 2006_02_watertower.jpgThis month, Lautman will host Margo Jefferson to discuss her book On Michael Jackson. Jefferson, a Chicago native, is a cultural critic for the New York Times, a Pulitzer Prize winner and someone we can trust to (maybe) tell us the real truth behind the complexities of the figuratively, if not sometimes literally, masked man.

We at Chicagoist sometimes feel sorry for Michael Jackson. We can’t look at his sinking face and distressing countenance without wondering what the heck happened to him. Luckily, Jefferson brings us in to take a closer look. She delves into his childhood in a chapter titled “Freak”, ruminating on his abusive father and his “child star” boyhood. Jefferson asserts that around the time Jackson could broke away from his family is when things really started to go awry. He developed a fascination with PT Barnum and, according to Jefferson, wanted to “put on the greatest show on earth.” But as he started with his hyperbolic chamber stunts and zoo houses, we started to notice the freak more than the artist.

Jefferson has had some criticism from the die hard fans (getting some times and dates wrong, for example) but her book is more of a cultural journey through a modern day freak show than a biography. We can’t wait to see her.

If only we could find that darn chimp suit to wear.

Margo Jefferson appears at Writers on Record on Sunday, February 19th from 11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. For reservations call 312-832-6788. Admission is free.

Thanks, Margaret!