Chicago is one of America’s most iconic, historic, and fascinating cities. For Alex Kotlowitz, an accidental Chicagoan, it is the perfect perch from which to peer into America’s heart. It’s a place, as one historian has said, of “messy vitalities,” a stew of contradictions: coarse yet gentle, idealistic yet restrained, grappling with is promise, alternately sure and unsure of itself.
Chicago, like America, is a kind of refuge for outsiders – which is in part why why Alex found comfort there. He’s drawn to people on the outside who are trying to clean up – or at least make sense of – the mess on the inside. Perspective often doesn’t come easy if you’re standing in the center. As with There Are No Children Here, this is not so much a tour of a place as a chronicle of its soul, its lifeblood. Never a City So Real is a tour of the people of Chicago, who have been his guides into this city’s – and by inference, this country’s – heart.
“The best $16 you’ll spend all summer will be on Never a City So Real…It’s a fine successor to Nelson Algren’s Chicago: City on the Make as a song to our rough-and-tumble, broken-nosed city…”
Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times
“Chicago is an awfully big place to fit into a small book, but Kotlowitz is amaster of distillation…Kotlowitz is an omnivorous observer,discerning listener, and unassuming witness to urban life…[Never a City So Real is] clear-eyed testimony to his great affection for this no-nonsense city and his infinite fascination with humankind.”
Donna Seaman, Booklist