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Archive for May 2019

Origin Stories

In at least one respect, I am like Sherlock Holmes: I have a smarter brother. In fact, I have two smarter brothers: Carlo and Sal. Carlo’s new book just came out to great acclaim. It is called The World is Always Coming to an End: Pulling Together and Apart in a Chicago Neighborhood. Mixing memoir, history, sociology and rigorous reporting, he tells the story of South Shore, the neighborhood in Chicago where we grew up. The result (according to many people who are not the author’s brother) is a masterpiece about the American city. If you read it, you will learn about race and class, bungalows and mansions, Raymond Chandler and Conan the Barbarian, crime and punishment, guns and music. You will meet an unforgettable gallery of characters: gunslingers, politicians, do-gooders, scoundrels, intellectuals, cowards, visionaries and decent hard-working Americans trying to get by in a harsh landscape being transformed by forces far beyond their control. (My favorites are probably a duo of ex-cops who deserve their own TV show: Hamilton and Daveed.) You will discover Carlo’s masterful voice, which combines highbrow intellect, streetwise journalism, virtuoso prose and, above all, a vivid and unique sense of humor. My career has taken me around the world but, as it is for my brothers, South Shore remains the place that prepared me for the world and shaped me as a person and a writer. My small contribution to the book is the epigraph. It comes from an interview I did for the Los Angeles Times with the Sicilian author Andrea Camilleri, a cheerful sage who said: “Tell the story of your village. If you tell it well, you will have told the story of the world.” This book achieves that daunting literary mission.