Never Leave Your Block: Adventures in Urban Living

Scott Jacobs, Author
Scott Jacobs. Wicker Park (www.wickerpark-3ibooks.com), $14.95 trade paper (198p) ISBN 978-1-879652-01-9
Reviewed on: 07/30/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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As a young reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, Jacobs learned an unforgettable lesson from a veteran colleague: “Never leave your block. Everything you need to know is right there.” That advice informs this selection of previously published columns—one as flat as the sidewalks of his Chicago neighborhood, Bucktown. These pieces cover the lives of local characters, the dynamics of the local adult basketball league, and other quirks that distinguish Bucktown from its surroundings. For example, preparing to move away from Bucktown, a longtime resident holds a yard sale; as neighbors stop by, Jacobs reflects on watching his neighbor sell his belongings: “What we accumulate as treasures in our life is valuable only to our friends as mementos. So make as many friends as you have—and invite them to your yard sale—because there’s a lot of stuff to get rid of.” Similarly, Jacobs contemplates how Chicago’s ordinance requiring residents to keep sidewalks clear of snow fosters community: “In the uneven clearing of sidewalk snow, we discover little things about our neighbors, and ourselves, that stay with us throughout the year.” While Jacobs’s columns offer a tribute to the importance of strong neighborhoods in the weave of urban fabric, his pieces fail to offer deeper reasons for us to take an interest in the people and places of his hometown. (Sept.)
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