Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gary Krist's "City of Scoundrels"

Before turning to narrative nonfiction with The White Cascade and the newly released City of Scoundrels, Gary Krist wrote three novels--Bad Chemistry, Chaos Theory, and Extravagance--and two short-story collections--The Garden State and Bone by Bone.

Krist applied the “Page 99 Test” to City of Scoundrels and reported the following:
Page 99 of City of Scoundrels describes an escalation of the tensions and conflicts that have been roiling Chicago throughout 1919—a situation that will culminate in July with a 12-day crisis that brings the city to the brink of civic collapse and martial law. On this page, we find Carl Sandburg (already somewhat famous as a poet but still working as a labor reporter for the Chicago Daily News) warning that a major confrontation between workers and employers in many industries is all but inevitable. We also get a glimpse of the city’s worsening ethnic strife, as various groups of Chicago’s Jews and Polish Catholics clash in several ugly incidents. These episodes presage the much more serious interracial conflict ahead, when the city will witness one of the worst race riots in American history. So Page 99 helps to underline one of the book’s major themes: namely, that great cities may be built by the combined energies and ambitions of a large variety of races, ethnicities and economic classes, but those same energies and ambitions can easily turn around and work to tear a city apart.
Learn more about the book and author at Gary Krist's website.

The Page 69 Test: The White Cascade.

Writers Read: Gary Krist.

--Marshal Zeringue