#TBT: Miracles in self-publishing: James Conroyd Martin


[For Throwback Thursday, we dug up this post from our original Chicago Underground Library blog, where it first appeared on November 6, 2010. It’s the compelling story of a Chicago novelist who gambled with self-publishing…and won. Maybe you will be inspired, too. —Ed.]

North Side resident James Conroyd Martin wanted to write for film. He fell backwards into writing successful historical novels about Poland. He wasn’t even Polish.

And self-publishing, in some ways the path of most resistance, was his unlikely point of entry.

The Irish-Norwegian Martin was studying screenwriting in L.A. in the 1970s when a friend showed him something he thought he might be interested in. It was the colorful, occasionally scandalous diary of the friend’s ancestor, a Polish countess.

Martin was enthralled. Countess Anna Maria Berezowska lived through the tumultuous era of Poland’s “Third of May” constitution (1791-94), the first modern democratic constitution in Europe. And she wrote about it. This was history observed at point-blank range by a woman, a rare viewpoint. 

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Read/Write Library seeks blog contributors!

Imagine yourself in this space as a Read/Write blogger. Go on, imagine! We believe in you.

You could do a one-time guest post. Or your contributions could be regular and ongoing: once a week, once a month, etc.

Topics and formats are pretty open. Pieces we’ve published in the past include:

—“Shelf-Reading” (short introductions to snazzy items in our collection)

—“From the Stacks” (longer reviews of especially unique or important items)

—Photo-blogging (subjects have included our own library space, which has some really neat stuff ranging from eyeglass-wearing skulls to origami, but could be anything that’s photogenic and Chicago-centric)

—Reports on library events, projects, activities, and partnerships

—Anything of relevance to Chicagoland’s shared cultural memory: arts initiatives, community organizations, youth and adult literacy, small publishers and self-publishing, amplifying underrepresented voices

Does any of this sound like what you’re into? Do you want to try your writing or photography chops? Drop a line to our blog editor Justin at editors@readwritelibrary.org.


By Holly Boyer, Senior Editor, INALJ

The American Library Association New Members Round Table wants you to succeed. They want you to be successful so much, they’re willing, able, and really excited to help you along the way. How, you ask? By offering a variety of services and opportunities.

Helpful info for current and aspiring library professionals in the Read/Write community. More at the link. Via ALA.

Read/Write proudly collects and preserves media relating to Chicago’s rich history of community activism and social justice movements. To peruse our collection, stop by during our open hours. To donate an item, please drop a line to info@readwritelibrary.org.

Read/Write proudly collects and preserves media relating to Chicago’s rich history of community activism and social justice movements. To peruse our collection, stop by during our open hours. To donate an item, please drop a line to info@readwritelibrary.org.

Shelf-Reading: Straight talk


“Shelf-Reading” is an ongoing series where we feature various items in the Read/Write Library’s collection of location-specific, independent, and small press media.

It’s a mini-zine. It measures about 2 x 4 inches. It consists entirely of dictionary entries, fourteen of them, one per page in plain text. The presentation is understated and deadpan. And it packs a considerable punch.

Straight Talk, by H. Melt, is a poetic dictionary that ponders the social identity of straightness. It offers and defines, without commentary, a series of English expressions that use the word “straight.” The implications of these expressions then speak for themselves.

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Looks like Read/Write isn’t the only library to do books-on-a-bike! RWL has the BiblioTreka, and the Boston Public Library has the Bibliocycle:

"…Features of the program include library card sign-up, book checkout, demonstrations of Boston Public Library’s digital resources, and help with reference questions.

“’This initiative gives the library the opportunity to expand our reach and to connect with communities throughout the city. Through efforts like the Bibliocycle, Boston Public Library team members can meet people where they already are, which is out and about in the neighborhoods,’ said Katrina Morse, program organizer and generalist librarian at the Grove Hall Branch. ‘Some of these residents may not otherwise visit a library location in their neighborhood, and that is who we would like to connect with the most.’”

Check out the link for more.

#TBT: Muldoon, more than just a Chicago ghost story


[For Throwback Thursday—because RWL is all about media preservation!—we’re republishing this book review. We originally posted it to our old blog on July 5, 2010, as part of the Printers’ Ball 2010 Blog-Down. You can still find Muldoon: A True Chicago Ghost Story on our shelves today! –Ed.]

When Rocco Facchini was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1956, he was charged to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church. According to those teachings, ghosts don’t exist.

But then, Facchini hadn’t lived at St. Charles Borromeo, yet.

His first job was associate pastor of St. Charles, a Near Southwest Side parish. There, Facchini watched mysteriously blinking lights and listened to inexplicably shrieking radios. Sonic booms jolted him and a fellow associate out of their beds late one night.

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