May 21, 2011

AROUND TOWN: And the Nominees are ...

When Donald G. Evans and Randy Richardson invited me to participate on the Nominating Committee for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, I jumped at the chance. And then I realized just how difficult it would be to narrow my nominations down to three or four writers. Nelson Algren, Lorraine Hansberry, Gwendolyn Brooks, Studs Terkel, Richard Wright and Saul Bellow were inducted in 2010 as the inaugural Hall of Fame class. Several others -- Theodore Dreiser, Harriet Monroe, Carl Sandburg, Mike Royko and James T. Farrell -- are automatic nominees for 2011 based upon the level of support they received last year. I spoke and exchanged emails with about a dozen friends, other writers and readers, which, of course, opened up my thinking -- and only made my decision more complicated. (And more fun.) Kurt Eric Heintz pointed me toward the poet Kent Foreman. Writers like Don DeGrazia and Patricia Ann McNair made a case for Ring Lardner and others, while Sun-Times journalist Tom McNamee suggested, in part, George Ade and Edna Ferber. They weren't wrong. In the end, I nominated Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Kent Foreman (pictured here) and Henry Blake Fuller. My ballot and others' are on the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame website. Now it's up to the Selection Committee to decide. I wish them well with this thoroughly enjoyable -- and complex -- decision.


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