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Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology

Edited by Martha Bayne

Chicago is built on a foundation of meat and railroads and steel, on opportunity and exploitation – but its identity long ago stretched past manufacturing. Today, the city continues to lure new residents from around the world, and from across a region rocked by recession and deindustrialization. But the problems that plague the region don't disappear once you pass the Indiana border. In fact, they're often amplified. A city defined by movement that's the anchor of the Midwest, bound to its neighbors by a shared ecosystem and economy, Chicago's complicated – both of the Rust Belt and beyond it. Rust Belt Chicago collects essays, journalism, fiction, and poetry from more than fifty writers who speak both directly and elliptically to the concerns the city shares with the region at large, and the elements that set it apart. With affection and curiosity, frustration, anger, and joy, the writers sing to each other like the bird on the cover. At times the song sings in harmony and at others sounds in notes of strategic dissonance. But taken as a whole, this book sings one song, responding to one cacophonous city.

Praise for Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology

“Writers like Stuart Dybek, Studs Terkel, Sandra Cisneros, Nelson Algren and Gwendolyn Brooks start to make up the city’s canon. They are required reading for every Chicagoan. But Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology, the neighborhood cookbook taking the pulse of post-industrial Chicago right now seems like required reading as well.” Emma Terhaar, Third Coast Review

“A lively grab bag of essays, fiction and poetry that reads at times like who’s who of contemporary Chicago writers/residents.” Chris Borrelli, Chicago Tribune

“One of the best books to come across my desk that I can frankly remember.” Rick Kogan, WGN Radio

"Within this collection of poems and prose lies a collection of voices and lives and pasts and presents. As told by those who run through Chicago’s veins and beat with its heart, the lens of the industrial Rust Belt pops this book’s blue collar, oozing working-class adoration and experience." -- Chicago summer book recommendation, American Writers Museum

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Martha Bayne is a senior editor with Belt Publishing and a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her work has been published in regional and national outlets including Buzzfeed, Eater, the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Reporter, the Baffler, and Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism. She also the editor of Red State Blues: Stories from Midwestern Life on the Left and The Chicago Neighborhood Guidebook, both published by Belt, and the author of the narrative cookbook Soup & Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Pot at a Time (Agate, 2011).

 

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Cover image by Tony Fitzpatrick, design by Sheila Sachs