Chicago - Mar. 19, 2022
Music TV Politics Sports Books People Places & Things
Beachwood Books
Our monthly books archive.
Beachwood BookLinks
Book TV
NY Review of Books
London Review of Books
Arts & Letters Daily
American Reader Campaign
U of C Press Blog
Devil's Due
NYT Books
New Yorker Books
2nd Story
Chicago Zine Fest

Local Book Notes: Corrupt Illinois & A South Side Bard

1. Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Criminality.

From the Society of Midland Authors:

Thomas J. Gradel and Dick Simpson will discuss their new book, Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Criminality, in a Society of Midland Authors program Tuesday, Feb. 10, at Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor. They will speak at 7 p.m. A social hour, with complimentary snacks and a cash bar, begins at 6 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. No advance registration is required.

Coming in February from the University of Illinois Press, the book examines Illinois' notorious culture of corruption, its historical roots and explains the reasons its political corruption continues to thrive well into the second decade of the 21st century.

Gradel and Simpson describe the history of political corruption in the Prairie State from vote rigging in 1833, when Chicago was first incorporated, and trace the dishonorable tradition through the criminal convictions of four of the last nine Illinois governors, a $53 million embezzlement by a downstate official, and the blizzard of bribery, extortion, tax fraud and other crimes that have led to the conviction of 33 Chicago aldermen.

Gradel, a former political media consultant, is a freelance writer and political researcher. Simpson is a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a former Chicago alderman and a former candidate for Congress. The authors spent the past seven years researching and documenting political corruption in Chicago, Cook County, the suburbs, and in Springfield and numerous downstate cities and towns.

Drawing on research assistance from a number of UIC graduate and undergraduate students, the authors published seven anti-corruption reports and compiled a database of more than 700 Illinois elected officials, government employees, and their cronies who had been convicted of corruption since 1956.

From the University of Illinois Press:

Public funds spent on jets and horses. Shoeboxes stuffed with embezzled cash. Ghost payrolls and incarcerated ex-governors. Illinois' culture of "Where's mine?" and the public apathy it engenders has made our state and local politics a disgrace.

In Corrupt Illinois, veteran political observers Thomas J. Gradel and Dick Simpson take aim at business-as-usual. Naming names, the authors lead readers through a gallery of rogues and rotten apples to illustrate how generations of chicanery have undermined faith in, and hope for, honest government. From there, they lay out how to implement institutional reforms that provide accountability and eradicate the favoritism, sweetheart deals, and conflicts of interest corroding our civic life.

Corrupt Illinois lays out a blueprint to transform our politics from a pay-to-play-driven marketplace into what it should be: an instrument of public good.

2. The Bard of the South Side.

From Roosevelt University:

Bayo Ojikutu, award-winning author of the novels 47th Street Black and Free Burning will kick off the Roosevelt University MFA Program's Spring Reading Series with a reading and discussion at 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 2 in Roosevelt's Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Ave.

Ojikutu's first novel, 47th Street Black won both the Washington Prize for Fiction and the Great American Book award. His short fiction has appeared in various media across the country, including the 2005 Akashic Press anthology Chicago Noir.

His short story "Yayi and Those Who Walk on Water: A Fable" received a nomination for the Pushcart Prize for outstanding fiction published in small literary presses in 2009. His second book, Free Burning was released in 2007 with much critical acclaim. Laura S. Washington in the Chicago Sun-Times said, "Its dark pages pound out more real-life social ills than you can find in the syllabus of an urban studies class."

Ojikutu was born and raised in Chicago where he lives with his wife and son. He has taught creative writing at the University of Chicago and his alma mater, DePaul University.

Roosevelt University is proud to announce this spring Ojikutu is teaching a novel writing class in Roosevelt's Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.

About his debut novel, Publishers Weekly declared it "an accomplished and engaging story." His second novel, Free Burning, has been called "the most foreboding love letter the city has ever received," by Time Out Chicago and "a searing portrayal of one of the shameful realities within an oft unjust society," by Black Issues Book Review.

Free and open to the public, the reading is presented by the MFA in Creative Writing Program, the University's literary magazine, Oyez Review, and the Department of Literature and Languages at Roosevelt University.

Bonus material: At the Pygmalion Lit Fest in Champaign in 2013.


3. J. Ivy and the Cycle of Pain.

From Chicago Tonight on Wednesday. Click through here for an excerpt and additional YouTube performance video.

See also: Grammy Award-winning spoken word artist to visit Brooklyn Museum for book talk.


Comments welcome.


Posted on January 29, 2015

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


Search The Beachwood Reporter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Follow BeachwoodReport on Twitter

Beachwood Radio!