NaNo Research

There is a ton of information of the Chicago of the 1930s. Sadly, this is forty years before our stalwart hero is alive. There doesn’t seem to be all that much info about ’70s Chicago. I guess I could just take the ’60s, subtract some repression and add some polyester and I would more or less have it.

I’ve obtained so far, a few books for NaNo:

Chicago:  A Historical Guide to the Neighborhoods, produced by the Chicago Historical Society in 1979. This was written right around when a lot of the novel is taking place, so that should be very helpful. I know absolutely nothing about how Chicago is laid out or where people live or anything. It seems like a lot of films, for example, of Chicago focus a lot of the architecture and what not, but don’t really talk about the geography or neighborhoods. It’s very different from stories set in New York, where the burroughs are very well known.

New York, Chicago, Los Angeles: America’s Global Cities, by Janet Abu-Lughod. This is kind of a sociologist’s view of these big cities. It’s looking at the big picture and large events. Looks like it’s a good mix of history, politics, and cultural demographic information.

I have a third book about Chicago that’s a history book (don’t have it handy at the moment).

Startlingly handy little tidbit I discovered: Chicago’s first and only female mayor was elected during this era. That dovetails very nicely with some of my themes. I’ll need to look up some more stuff on this lady.

Needed still: Greek gods, women in police history, Chicago public school system

The more I’m looking at all this, the longer I think I’m going to spend on Kelly’s childhood.


7 thoughts on “NaNo Research”

  1. Well, the 60s had Mayor Daley and the Weather Underground and the Students for a Democratic Society… very exciting stuff. The “Illuminatus!” trilogy actually captures the zeitgeist of 60s Chicago pretty well (and they’re a recommended read anyway!). But, 70s, yeah, I don’t know a thing…

  2. I love that stage of the novel, when ideas are plentiful and possibilities are infinite. It’s exhilarating; your novel can be anything right now. I also love being able to buy as many books as you want, and if someone, say, one’s wife, says “Do you really need ALLLLL these books?” one just thumps the massive stack of books and says, “They’re for my writing.” And no one can argue with that.
    I think I bought fifteen books for “Papillon” and read maybe half of them.

  3. Yeah, I looked at all the Weather Underground stuff, but a lot of those, ahem, protestors, had gone into hiding by the early ’70s.

    It looks like the ’70s were largely the city recovering from all the really interesting stuff that happened in the first half of the century. There’s some racial tension and a little police corruption, but that’s about it as far as I can tell so far. The ’70s in general are pretty interesting as far as women’s rights go, which fits nicely with my female hero, so that’s good.

    I think there was a big surge in African American operated organized crime, but I haven’t found the book about it yet.

  4. Um, hey cuz…you do realize I just spent the last two years of my life in the Second City, correct? Chicago is as much about the neighborhoods as New York. Maybe even moreso, because the neighborhoods are so varied (within a couple of blocks you can go from perfectly safe hipster crowd to Little Mexico gangland to Way-Overpriced Yuppie Old Town to drunken frat boy baseball bars) and because the neighborhood you live in pretty much defines your lifestyle. Being on the northside as a young 20-something couple? I must have a dog, plan on having kids in the next two years, listen (but NEVER read) at open mic nights at my locally owned and operated, anti-starbucks coffee shop, and walk my adorably impractical dog/baby/cat (yes, I did see people walking cats on leashes) at least 18 times a day.

    If you want some info on neighborhoods, I’m sure I could help you out.

  5. Yeah, I’m definitely starting to realize the importance of the neighborhoods, now that I’m digging into these books. The “border wars” of the ’50s and ’60s are pretty shocking. I’m also recognizing some of the names (Hyde Park, Canaryville, Back of the Yards) that I must have heard in movies and just never realized what the significance was. I’ll keep you in mind Cortney!

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