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A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago

Illustrated by Herman Rosse and with a new Introduction by Bill Savage
In 1921, Ben Hecht wrote a column for the Chicago Daily News that his editor called “journalism extraordinary; journalism that invaded the realm of literature.” Hecht’s collection of sixty-four of these pieces, illustrated with striking pen drawings by Herman Rosse, is a timeless caricature of urban American life in the jazz age, updated with a new Introduction for the twenty-first century. From the glittering opulence of Michigan Avenue to the darkest ruminations of an escaped convict, from captains of industry to immigrant day laborers, Hecht captures 1920s Chicago in all its furor, intensity, and absurdity.

“The hardboiled audacity and wit that became Hecht’s signature as Hollywood’s most celebrated screen-writer are conspicuous in these vignettes. Most of them are comic and sardonic, some strike muted tragic or somber atmospheric notes. . . . The best are timeless character sketches that have taken on an added interest as shards of social history.”—L. S. Klepp, Voice Literary Supplement



296 pages | b&w line drawings throughout | 6 5/8 x 9 3/4 | © 1922, 1927, 2009

Chicago and Illinois


Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature


“The columns in 1,001 Afternoons inChicago are scruffy time capsules of an earlier Chicago, an era that is long gone but still recognizable to readers’ imaginations. Michigan Avenue, Lake Michigan, street names such as Dearborn and Adams and LaSalle and Wabansia, places such as the Art Institute of Chicago—they’re all here, sprinkled amid Hecht’s nervous little haikus of urban life. He calls Chicago ‘a razzle-dazzle of dreams, tragedies, fantasies,’ and his tales capture gorgeous scraps of it, vivid vignettes starring businessmen and hobos and cops and socialites and janitors. . . . Thanks to Hecht, the Chicago of 1922 and the Chicago of 2009 bump into each other, shake hands, exchange greetings. Then, this being Chicago, they go for a drink and talk about old times. New ones too.”

Julia Keller | Chicago Tribune

"Hecht’s youthful journalism remains both movving and dazzling. He sided with the scrappy underdog and was endlessly alert to the moods of the great city that was his subject. . . . Saul Bellow read this book while still in high school and would always remember it, maybe because Hecht’s sketches, while sometimes gritty and violent in content, also present a quest for lyricism and hope."

Richard Rayner | Los Angeles Times

Table of Contents

A Self-Made Man
An Iowa Humoresque
An Old Audience Speaks
Clocks and Owl Cars
Coral, Amber and Jade
Coeur De Lion and The Soup and Fish
Dapper Pete and The Sucker Play
Dead Warrior
Don Quixote and His Last Windmill
"Fa’n Ta Mig!"
Fantastic Lollypops
Fog Patterns
Grass Figures
Jazz Band Impressions
Meditation in E Minor
Michigan Avenue
Mishkin’s Minyon
Mr. Winkelberg
Mrs. Rodjezke’s Last Job
Mrs. Sardotopolis’ Evening Off
Night Diary
Notes For a Tragedy
On A Day Like This
Pandora’s Box
Pitzela’s Son
Queen Bess’ Feast
Satraps At Play
Schopenhauer’s Son
Sergt. Kuzick’s Waterloo
Sociable Gamblers
Ten-Cent Wedding Rings
The Auctioneer’s Wife
The Dagger Venus
The Exile
The Great Traveler
The Indestructible Masterpiece
The Lake
The Little Fop
The Man From Yesterday
The Man Hunt
The Man With a Question
The Mother
The Pig
The Snob
The Soul of Sing Lee
The Sybarite
The Tattooer
The Thing In The Dark
The Watch Fixer
The Way Home
Thumbnail Lotharios
Thumbs Up and Down
To Bert Williams
Waterfront Fancies
Where The "Blues" Sound
World Conquerors

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