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Chicago
Cover of Chicago
Chicago
A Novel
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A big-shouldered, big-trouble thriller set in mobbed-up 1920s Chicago—a city where some people knew too much, and where everyone should have known better—by the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Untouchables and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright of Glengarry Glen Ross.

Mike Hodge—veteran of the Great War, big shot of the Chicago Tribune, medium fry—probably shouldn't have fallen in love with Annie Walsh. Then, again, maybe the man who killed Annie Walsh have known better than to trifle with Mike Hodge.

In Chicago, David Mamet has created a bracing, kaleidoscopic page-turner that roars through the Windy City's underground on its way to a thunderclap of a conclusion. Here is not only his first novel in more than two decades, but the book he has been building to for his whole career. Mixing some of his most brilliant fictional creations with actual figures of the era, suffused with trademark "Mamet Speak," richness of voice, pace, and brio, and exploring—as no other writer can—questions of honor, deceit, revenge, and devotion, Chicago is that rarest of literary creations: a book that combines spectacular elegance of craft with a kinetic wallop as fierce as the February wind gusting off Lake Michigan.

A big-shouldered, big-trouble thriller set in mobbed-up 1920s Chicago—a city where some people knew too much, and where everyone should have known better—by the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Untouchables and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright of Glengarry Glen Ross.

Mike Hodge—veteran of the Great War, big shot of the Chicago Tribune, medium fry—probably shouldn't have fallen in love with Annie Walsh. Then, again, maybe the man who killed Annie Walsh have known better than to trifle with Mike Hodge.

In Chicago, David Mamet has created a bracing, kaleidoscopic page-turner that roars through the Windy City's underground on its way to a thunderclap of a conclusion. Here is not only his first novel in more than two decades, but the book he has been building to for his whole career. Mixing some of his most brilliant fictional creations with actual figures of the era, suffused with trademark "Mamet Speak," richness of voice, pace, and brio, and exploring—as no other writer can—questions of honor, deceit, revenge, and devotion, Chicago is that rarest of literary creations: a book that combines spectacular elegance of craft with a kinetic wallop as fierce as the February wind gusting off Lake Michigan.

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About the Author-
  • David Mamet first won recognition with his 1976 plays Sexual Perversity in Chicago and American Buffalo. In 1984, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross. Among his many other acclaimed and prize-winning plays are Speed the Plow, Oleanna, and The Old Neighborhood. His feature film debut as a writer-director was the classic House of Games; his other films as writer-director include Homicide, The Spanish Prisoner, State and Main, and Spartan. He has also won acclaim for numerous screenplays, including The Verdict, Wag the Dog, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Untouchables, Hoffa, and The Edge. A Chicago native, he lives in Santa Monica, California.

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2017

    Mamet is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, but this is his first novel in more than 20 years. In 1920s Chicago, where mob rule prevails, World War I veteran Mike Hodge works at the Chicago Tribune and falls hard for Annie Walsh. Then she's murdered, and he's out to get those responsible. Al Capone shows up for real, and the language is classic Mamet. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2018
    A major bard of the Windy City returns, this time with a novel devoted to the mob era and some of its more minor players.Aside from a few questionable forays into right-wing politics, Mamet (Three War Stories, 2013, etc.) is heard from too little these days. That's unfortunate, because few writers are better at bringing the smart, charged dialogue of the theater into conventional prose. "They loved your quip, about 'he died of a broken heart, '" says Parlow, a journeyman writer on every topic of culture and commerce imaginable, to his pal Mike Hodge, a hard-boiled reporter for the Trib who is much admired and much feared. "You should have been there, they picked up the tab for dinner." "They" are one of the several crews of very bad gangsters who have just "iced" Jacob Weiss, a showman knee-deep in misbehavior. But who? Therein hangs one of several mysteries, the largest of them the identity of the fellow who iced Mike's girlfriend, Annie Walsh, as Mike and she were freshening up after a tryst. Not a good idea: Mike is a former fighter ace ("He had killed in France, in the air, which he did not mind at all; and killed strafing ground troops, which upset him") who won't be thrown off a scent--and the stench of murder and mayhem is thick. The story moves at a careening pace, drawing on a small but memorable cast of characters, with cameos by a few historical figures; the palaver isn't as snappy as, say, House of Games, but it's brisk and believable. Readers should note that there's scarcely an ethnic group that doesn't come in for a slur along the way, but that's part of the verisimilitude: these are not nice people, excepting the deceased Annie--and even she has a few dark corners. Of a piece with character studies such as E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime and John Sayles' Eight Men Out, Mamet's book does Chicago--and organized crime--proud.An evocative, impressive return that Mamet fans will welcome.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 12, 2018
    Playwright Mamet returns to the scene of one of his greatest successes, the screenplay for Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, with his new novel, set in Chicago during Prohibition in the 1920s. Mike Hodge is a veteran pilot of the Great War and current reporter for the Tribune. In a very Mamet touch, the book begins with a literary conversation between Mike and fellow reporter Clement Parlow in a duck blind. But in no time, Mike is racing off to find the killer of his girlfriend, Annie Walsh. All he has to go on is a fuzzy photo of two unknown men at the funeral of nightclub owner Morris Teitelbaum, so Mike cuts a swath through gangland Chicago. All this is basically just an excuse for the author to exercise his patented talent with dialogue (“There’s this to say for a broken heart, it keeps your weight down”). Unfortunately, this works better in his plays than here, where the highly charged conversations slow down the haphazardly plotted story. But Mike proves himself the spiritual kin of Chicago reporter Hildy Johnson from Hecht and MacArthur’s The Front Page, and Mamet’s Chicago setting is immersively evoked.

  • New York Times "All the trademarks of a Mamet production — electric dialogue and a hurtling pace."
  • Los Angeles Times As if Cormac McCarthy had decamped from Southwest to Midwest...Chicago feels like one of the great American male novelists of the late 20th century — Updike, Mailer, Bellow, Roth—trying his hand at writing a genre novel. But unlike those novelists' somewhat less sure-footed lunges...Mamet lands this with aplomb.
  • USA Today "Splendid... a riveting crime drama in a throwback journalistic world, a time when you could yell for a copy boy to bring you Dixie cups for your illegal liquor. But this novel has a romantic heart, and the emotional stakes complement the whiskey-drenched whodunit."
  • Wall Street Journal "Tommy guns, bootleggers and hard-living newsmen: David Mamet adds a vivid novel to a legendary tradition."
  • Booklist (starred review) "Acclaimed playwright (Glengarry Glen Ross) and screenwriter (The Untouchables) Mamet unpacks his literary arsenal in his first novel in two decades.... Mamet offers a master class on dialogue.... For readers of Elmore Leonard and Dennis Lehane.
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "The story moves at a careening pace... Of a piece with character studies such as E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime and John Sayles' Eight Men Out, Mamet's book does Chicago—and organized crime—proud. An evocative, impressive return that Mamet fans will welcome."
  • Harvard Crimson "The finest American writer of his generation."
  • Sunday Mail "Full of twists and surprises...Mamet's new novel is a treasure, a piece of fictitious history entrenched in an era of violence and love."
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A Novel
David Mamet
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