Award-winning author Alex Kotlowitz, a self-described “accidental Chicagoan,” considers how a journalist or historian manages to capture a place at a particular moment in Time. He draws from the experience of writing his 2004 book Never a City So Real: A Walk in Chicago. Kotlowitz draws a map of the city, searching along the margins to find characters as his landmarks. They range from “Oil Can” Eddie, a South-side steel worker and union activist, to Milton Reed, painter of panthers, ducks, Jesus Christ and any other image thought-up by his clients in Chicago Public Housing units.
Kotlowitz describes Chicago as a real American city, a place for those who don’t fit in anywhere else, a dialectic city in constant struggle between extremes of good and evil, ugliness and beauty, the open heart of America.