FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE: More of the Best of Mike Royko

Mike Royko, Author, Roger Ebert, Foreword by FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE: More of the Best of Mike Royko

This is a substantial second collection (after One More Time) by the quintessential urban columnist as he witnessed the 1960s through the 1990s, preserving with a keen eye his obsessions, rages and lonely ethical crusades. Royko (author of Boss, an infamous critique of Chicago's late Mayor Richard Daley) embodies a journalistic archetype once synonymous with Chicago (cf. The Front Page), but now nearly extinct: chauvinistic and old-fashioned, yet fiercely imbued with a sense of time and place, and with courage enough, as Roger Ebert recalls in his warm foreword, to denounce the newspapers of Rupert Murdoch—the new owner of Royko's own paper—as "not fit to wrap fish in." While Royko's subjects range widely, his moral stance and his well-honed rhetorical feints are rock-solid. Humorous columns—like those featuring Slats Grobnik, Everyman of Royko's hardscrabble, white-ethnic neighborhood territory, or his legendary 1980 piece on pigeon eaters in Grant Park—feel like grittier versions of folksy writers like Garrison Keillor. His serious, angrier pieces edge closer than most postwar writers dared in addressing the nihilistic darkness enveloping the cities, as in "Nero Would Love Chicago," a 1975 piece acidly questioning police priorities during an arson epidemic. His pieces regarding the civil rights struggle—where he examines Northern racial hypocrisy alongside Southern brutality—remain sharp and poignant, and remind how groundless are charges of intolerance leveled against Royko late in life. Finally, his wry critiques of the Chicago "machine" and its time-honored traditions ("when you buy somebody, they stay bought") make one miss his gadfly presence on the political scene, particularly his unerring eye for hypocrisy. Fans will treasure this collection. (Apr.)

Forecast: Need we even say this will be a bestseller in Chicago?

Reviewed on: 04/02/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 270 pages - 978-0-226-73074-5
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