Reading & Chicago History

Although the temperatures and humidity last weekend were high, it felt great to be able to pull a sundress from my closet to wear!  After picking up Mikey from his Aikido class on Saturday morning, I settled into a spot of sunshine by the open bedroom window for some reading (the cat joined me).

Over the weekend I started and finished Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng. I just couldn’t put it down, it has beautiful prose and many different layers of storytelling: a family drama with perspectives of a mixed race family in 1970’s America, a story about loss, a story about community and belonging. I found myself mentally willing each of the characters stories to turn out differently from how I knew they would (the timeline and perspectives jump back and forth, we know the “end” before we know how they got there) and of course it was heartbreaking when they didn’t.

After I finished Everything I Never Told You I thought that picking up The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, by Meghan Daum, right away might be a bit much. But it worked out well and I’m now absorbed in these provocative, sometimes brutal, funny, essays. I added the book to my list after seeing a quote on Amanda’s blog back in April, the inappropriateness of life experiences and the candor of Daum’s writing really appeals to me.

On Monday afternoon, Mikey and I took the train downtown to visit the Chicago History Museum as part of his Social Studies project. I had never been to this museum before, despite living here for 4 years now, I have come to realise I had been missing out!

The museum is gorgeous. Mikey loved the interactive kids section, Sensing Chicago. He also really enjoyed the Chicago: Crossroads of America permanent exhibit, with a 1892 el train car from the first fleet of el trains and the Pioneer locomotive engine from the 1840’s.

I had a wonderful time walking through the Vivian Maier’s Chicago exhibit with photographs of Chicago neighborhoods and faces of the 1960s and 70s. My other favourite was The Secret Lives of Objects. With objects pulled from the museum archives and put on display with their stories, place in history, and sometimes the stories of their owners contributions to history. The presentation of this exhibit was excellent as well, with each object placed under its own spotlight in an otherwise darkened room.

If you’re ever in Chicago I definitely recommend visiting!

2 Comments

  1. I really, really loved Everything I Never Told You! And Daum’s essays, while irreverent, were spot on and flawlessly executed. Glad you enjoyed them!

    • You know, I wasn’t sure before I started reading Everything I Never Told you, but the reviews were good and it sounded interesting so I just threw it on my library eBook holds list. I am so glad I did!

      In regards to Daum, her sense of humour in examining what it is to be human in these essays is very similar to my own. I haven’t finished (I’m just over halfway through) but thoroughly enjoying it. It reminds me a little of some Lydia Davis, not in writing style but in that examination of the human condition type subject matter.

      “I am happy the leaves are growing so large so quickly.
      Soon they will hide the neighbor and her screaming child.”

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