A Book that Changed My Life - 9 muses photo
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Joan

Joan

When I was introduced to Stuart Dybek’s work, I was seventeen years old, and I almost exclusively traveled by El or bus. I always felt this unique sense of solitude when I was getting around Chicago, and I had an ever-growing connection to and love for the grit and darkness I encountered. I observed and learned to respect the mingling of so many walks of life, and when I read Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, Dybek gave life to my daily observations; he personified the city. As a Chicagoan, I personally related to the uniquely Chicago imagery, language, and characters: the Ragmen scavenging the grimy alleys, kids running down gangways while calling each other dupa yash , and the old ladies in babushkas making czarnina. For me, Dybek provided familiarity and comfort in the hustle and noise, and he coupled it with undertone of aloneness, threaded throughout each story. I often revisit the stories of Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, and it reinforces my bond with Chicago, just as it did when I was seventeen.