Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow …

CBR_Logo2Well, fellow bibliophiles, here we are at the end of 2017 and it’s been a long while since we here at Chicago Book Review have posted a review or shared a feature story. So, it is with a heavy heart that I find it’s time to say au revoir.

Chicago Book Review began as and has always been a labor of love. When I launched the site in 2013, I had no idea what kind of response it would get, but I felt certain that there were a lot of local and regional authors and publishers who could use some help getting their books in front of the eyes of readers. I also felt sure that there were plenty of readers who love Chicago and its environs as much as I do and so would enjoy learning about books written by local authors, published by local houses, and/or written about local subjects.

Turns out I was pretty much right on this one, and Chicago Book Review was lucky enough to reach tens of thousands of readers who discovered hundreds of books and scores of authors—all of which had some sort of local or regional connection.

This success was in large part due to the reviewers I worked with, all of whom were volunteers, and with the authors and publishers who were kind enough to share their books with us. Without their contributions, I never could have made Chicago Book Review what it was, and I will be forever grateful.

But there are only so many hours in a day, and despite the many contributions from CBR’s volunteers, it takes rather a lot of time, energy, and resources to coordinate a book review. And when said book review is a labor of love, well … sometimes you’ve just got to pick which of your loves deserve the most of your labor.

So, as Tolkien wrote, “Your time may come. Do not be too sad. You cannot be always torn in two. You will have to be one and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do.”

With that, we’ll say au revoir—at least for now. Maybe we should say à bientôt. Either way, it’s not easy, and it makes me sad. Perhaps one day we’ll be able to revive CBR. In the meantime, we’ll keep the site up so you can explore the reviews and features we’ve posted over the past few years and discover new authors … and #ReadLocal.

book love story

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
—A.A. Milne



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Chicago Book Review IS NOT Chicago Review of Books

CBR_Logo2I don’t know why Chicago Review of Books chose a name so similar to ours when they launched a year ago, more than two years after Chicago Book Review began publishing, but they did. And so there’s been a lot of confusion since then, primarily on Twitter.

Now, however, since Chicago Review of Books decided that they would not review any Simon & Schuster titles in light of that house’s decision to publish Milo Yiannopoulos’s forthcoming book, we here at Chicago Book Review have been catching a lot of shit.


If you’d like to complain about or harass Chicago Review of Books, you can find them at
You can email them at
You can tweet at them at @bookschicago

We here at Chicago Book Review have been on an unintended hiatus since July due to an accident suffered by the publisher and founder of CBR. In addition, we only review books that have some kind of direct connection to Chicago and/or the Midwest, so the Yiannopolous thing isn’t really a thing with us. Furthermore, we have made no statements whatsoever regarding Yiannopolous or Simon & Schuster, and we have no intention of doing so.

If you want to freak out over this issue, please direct your freakishness to Chicago Review of Books and not to us here at Chicago Book Review.

Thank you.

—Kelli Christiansen
Chicago Book Review



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5 Questions for … Kathleen Rooney

CBR_Logo2Our 5 Questions for … series continues today with an echat with local author Kathleen Rooney, whose novel O, Democracy! was one of CBR’s Best Books of 2014. Her second novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in January 2017. In addition to her work as a writer, Kathleen is the founding editor of local house Rose Metal Press. Founded in 2006, Rose Metal Press, Inc. is an independent, not-for-profit publisher of hybrid genres specializing in the publication of short short, flash, and micro-fiction; prose poetry; novels-in-verse or book-length linked narrative poems; and other literary works that move beyond the traditional genres of poetry, fiction, and essay to find new forms of expression. We asked Kathleen what she’s working on, what she’s been reading lately, and what’s coming up next for her.

o democracy rooney coverCBR: What new writing projects are you working on right now?
KR: Presently, I’m working with my co-editor, Eric Plattner, to put the finishing touches on René Magritte: Selected Writings, the first-ever English edition of the Belgian Surrealist painter’s extensive writings, forthcoming later this summer from Alma Books in the UK and in September of this year from University of Minnesota Press. I’m also working on wrapping up my second novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press.

CBR: Who are some of your favorite writers?
KR: A couple of new (to me) writers whose books I read recently and can’t stop thinking about are Don Mee Choi, whose Hardly War is a hybrid and brilliant memoir in poems/poetic memoir with photographs, and Shannon Burns, whose debut poetry collection, Oosh Boosh, made me laugh out loud and also cry.

CBR: What are you reading right now?
KR: My spouse, Martin Seay, and I are in a book club, and that book club is really supportive of both of us as writers, so we’re currently reading his debut novel, The Mirror Thief (Melville House, 2016), as our current pick. I’ve read it before in manuscript form, but it’s fun to read it now that it’s an actual close-to-600-page book.

CBR: Which books are on your to-read list?
KR: I can’t wait to read Mickey by Chelsea Martin, forthcoming from local Chicago publisher Curbside Splendor, and Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard, forthcoming in July.

CBR: If you could write one book about any topic—fiction or nonfiction—what would that book be?
Pigeons—and I’m actually working on a novel now that is partly in the first-person perspective of a pigeon.

magKathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, and a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose commissioned poetry on demand. She teaches English and Creative Writing at DePaul University and is the author of eight books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including the novel O, Democracy! (Fifth Star Press, 2014) and the novel in poems Robinson Alone (Gold Wake Press, 2012). With Eric Plattner, she is the co-editor of René Magritte: Selected Writings (University of Minnesota Press, 2016 and Alma Books, 2016). A winner of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from Poetry magazine, her reviews and criticism have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times Magazine, The Rumpus, The Nation, the Poetry Foundation website, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay. Her second novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in January 2017.You can learn more about Kathleen and her work at

—Kelli Christiansen

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