Novels set in Chicago: Chicago by David Mamet

Being one of the great cities of the world, many novels have been set in Chicago. This is the second of a series looking at how the city has been portrayed/described in novels.

David Mamet’s 2018 novel, Chicago, takes up the city in the 1920s to tell the story of Mike Hodge, a reporter for the Tribune, who gets involved with the darkest corners of humanity.

Investigating florists on the North Side which he believes to be tied to the mob, Mike courts and falls for Annie Walsh, a girl at The Beautiful, a flower shop. When she is gunned down in his apartment, Mike goes on a quest to uncover who killed her and why.

In telling the story Mamet draws on many actual people from the time, including Al Capone and his rival Dean O’Banion. The book is dire, cynical, and immersive.

One of my favorite quotes from the book about the city:

Lake Michigan smelled like nothing else on earth, Mike thought. It must’ve been the smell of home, for everyone gravitated to the lake, and it was the lake they thought of when they thought of home. (pg. 137)

Perhaps best known for his Pulitzer prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross, Mamet was born in Chicago in 1947. Educated at the Francis W. Parker School (330 W. Webster), he worked as a busboy at The London House, a jazz club and restaurant at the corner of Wacker Drive & Michigan Ave that closed in the early 1970s, as well as at The Second City.

What are your favorite novels set in Chicago? What are you reading during this shelter-in-place order? Let us know below!

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