Wednesday, June 20, 2007


by Marcus Sakey

Okay, actually, not so much a slacker as a guy behind the eight ball. The plane in from my brother-in-law's wedding last night was canceled, and the one I'm jumping today leaves in two hours. So I'm afraid I'm going to have to short-post here, and beg your forgiveness.

A few notes from my head, of almost no value:

  • I'm reading a book called STONE CITY, which was released in '91 to great acclaim, and then vanished. Busted Flush is reissuing it this summer, and I have to say, the book is astonishingly good. Achingly good. Painfully, how-the-hell-does-he-do-that good. Preorder-now-good.
  • I'd forgotten how terrific The Clash are. I've been on a punk kick lately, lots of Dropkick Murphys, and decided to revisit an old fave, "The Essential Clash." Every track a winner.
  • I'm running out the door to catch a flight to Utah, in order to write an article on rock climbing and canyoneering for a magazine. This is a very good gig, especially as I'm getting paid for it. Fingers crossed I still remember how to tie a figure-eight.
  • Saturday night I'll be driving to Los Angeles to do a ridealong with the LAPD's 77th Street Gang Unit, the unit that covers South Central LA, the worst gang territory in the country. I am very excited; my wife, less so. However, I promise to give you all the details in a subsequent post.
All the best, folks! Sorry for the lame filler.


Rob in Denver said...

Marcus said:
I'd forgotten how terrific The Clash are.


Blaspheme, sinner!

You never, ever admit such things.

Matt said...


Speaking of forgotten novels, have your (or anyone else on this site) read the novels of the late (and local) Eugene Izzi. I got hooked after reading a profile of him in Chicago Magazine (this was a few years before his death.)

Some of his stuff is a little rough around the edges. His early novels, like most early novels, read like a writer still struggling to find his voice, but his stories were raw and brutal and really captured the mean streets of Chicago.

You ought to check him out.

Steve Malley said...

I've been on a Dropkickstear recently too. If you like them, check out Flogging Molly and Less Than Jake.

And yeah, Eugene Izzi wrote somereal page-turners!

Barbara D'Amato said...

Guy Izzi and I used to meet at Water Tower Place for coffee occasionally. He was a nice, kind man, much different from what you might expect from reading his books.

Very powerful books.

And by the way, Marcus, good post.

r2 said...

Eugene Izzi is one of my all-time favorite writers. Sort of a punk John D. McDonald. I heard he commited suicide. Is that true? Does anyone know the story?

Matt said...


Eugene Izzi was found hanging by rope from the window of his Michigan Ave. office. I believe his death was ruled a suicide.

There are a couple of dubious conspiracy theories out there, but I don't want to disrespect the man's life by describing them here. They're easy enough to find on the Web, if you are interested.

Izzi was a gifted writer and storyteller. By all accounts, he also was a friend and mentor to aspiring novelists. But like too many good writers, his books struggled to find a wide audience. And today, most of his stuff is out of print.

I believe that had he lived, he would have finally written that breakthrough novel.

I scoured used book stores and managed to buy up all of his books, except those written under his pen name, Nick Gaitano (?). I've been reading one every couple of years. As great as those stories are (especially "A Matter of Honor"), it's sad knowing that there will never be a new Izzi novel to look forward to.

Hopefully, some publisher will fall upon these books and decide to issue new printings. He really is an "undiscovered" treasure in Chicago literature.

Sara P said...

Speaking of writers who ought to have a wide audience, Gary Phillips should be read by anyone wanting good noir, good characters, good stories, good everything. Gary knows south-central LA from the inside out, having lived there, organized there, gone to school there--and he brings it all to life with a social justice sensibility that I love. Also he writes well about women. And everyone ought to read him and he should be well published.

Steve Z. said...

Izzi's The Take was a very strong debut novel. The first edition hardcover, which sits on my bookshelf, features the following blurb from Charles Willeford (himself one of the great crime writers ever): "Fabe and Doral are so tough, they make Spenser and Hawk look like preppies."

Sean Chercover said...

Yes, Eugene Izzy was a fantastic writer, and a fantastic Chicago writer, and everyone should read him.

Also, what Sara said. I'm a big fan of Gary Phillips, and everyone should read him, too.

Oh, and The Clash. Yes. Marcus, when you get back home, we are definitely gonna sit down with a few pops and break out the punk albums.

Stiff Little Fingers, anyone?

Kevin Guilfoile said...

Marcus, were you in the bar at Printers Row when Stone City came up? Chuck Box was raving about it. I hadn't heard of it but it went straight to my buy it now list.

Also, from now on I'm calling you Ride-Along Sakey. I think after five you get ten bucks off your next dry cleaning.

Marcus Sakey said...

Rob: I know, I know, my bad.

Matt (et al): I have heard of, but never read, Eugene Izzi. Consider him on my buy-one-the-moment-I-get-home list

Steve: Love Flogging Molly, never tried Better Than Jake. Thanks for the rec!

Sean: You're on, bro. Any time.

Kevin: I was at the table. I'd bought the book, but hadn't read it at that point; his raves moved it up my list. And it's worth it. While it's successful as a mystery, the two most striking parts of the book are the believable depth of the world and the uncompromising moral ambiguity of the characters, including the 'protagonist'. Terrific stuff.

As for ridealongs, shit man, how could I not want to ride through the 'hood? :)