I was asking one of the regulars at the coffee shop I work at about his fiction writing. In describing it he made a comparison to Stuart Dybek. Living mostly in classics as I do, I wasn’t familiar but added him to the list. As it would happen, the next day I stumbled onto a copy of what is perhaps Dybek’s most famous work, The Coast of Chicago, in a Little Free Library. (It’s a cancelled copy from the Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, Ohio – this is one reason why I love LFLs so much!) I loved it and definitely see why he’s been called a master of the short story. And as I just found out, TCOC was the 2004 selection for One Book, One Chicago.
Born in Chicago in 1942, Dybek grew up in the Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods, then mostly populated by Poles, Czechs, and Hispanics. He graduated from St. Rita of Cascia High School and went on to earn an MA in Literature from Loyola University Chicago and an MFA from University of Iowa. Chicago and its neighborhoods often play a large role in his works, coming alive on the page. None other than called Dybek, “the bard of the blue collar. The cream of the crop.”