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Lawless it is!

It's a rare event to read the private correspondence between a writer and editor, so I'm fascinated by this exchange between Stuart Dybek and his editor ("AMcP") at A Public Space, concerning how to name a housing project in Dybek's story "Four Deuces."

I could simply move him to somewhere notorious such as Cabrini-Green (it was just torn down finally). I am worried about loading the line with too much exposition. It could read: "He moved to the Lawless Garden Projects—excuse me, Low-Income Apartments. Lawless—they got that right." Or "He moved to Bronzeville, the Lawless Garden Project—excuse me, Low-Income Apartments. Lawless—they got that right." This is one of those places in the story where you not being a Chicagoan has been very helpful as the story has to be clear for someone who did not grow up in the city.

I admire Dybek's decision to not go with the infamous Cabrini-Green, which would seem like too obvious of a choice. And I love his comment about the CHA's tendency to add "garden" to the name of its housing projects. Garden spots, they certainly weren't, especially during their latter decades.

(Via John Williams at The Second Pass, returning the nod.)

July 20, 2011 in Books, Chicago Observations | Permalink