In 1919, Chicago was called the "youngest great city in the world." World War I had just come to a close, troops were coming home, industry was booming and crime was down. Chicago's mayor at the time, William Hale Thompson — known as Big Bill — had just been re-elected and was spearheading an ambitious urban improvement program.
But in mid-July of 1919, just about everything that could go wrong in Chicago did. Among the headlines were a deadly dirigible crash, a bizarre kidnapping, race riots and a major public transit strike.
The star of John Irving's new novel, In One Person, is Billy Abbott. Billy is a character at the mercy of his own teenage crushes, which are visited upon by a whole repertory company of gender-bending characters.
It's a repertory company in the most literal sense, too. Billy spends many days backstage at the local theater — where gender can also fluctuate and where his family members are regulars.
Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast and Newsweek, tells us what she's been reading in a feature that Morning Edition likes to call "Word of Mouth." This month, Brown selects two recent pieces of news commentary and a memoir on political resistors.
When author and illustrator Maurice Sendak entered the world of children's books, it was a very safe place. Stories were sweet and simple and set in a world without disorder. But Sendak, who died Tuesday at age 83, broke with that tradition. In Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak explored the darker side of childhood. Upstairs in young Max's bedroom, a jungle grows, and he sails off to a land of monsters.