Articles by Janet Potter

April 30, 2012

How To Introduce an Author 22

Should a beloved, Pulitzer Prize-winning author have to hear the president of Northwestern’s Jewish students’ society call him Michael Sha-BONE 8 times in 2 minutes? No. Because he flew across the country to speak for 50 minutes in your overheated auditorium and you have the internet.

April 17, 2012

Staff Pick: Lauren Groff’s Arcadia 6

Sometimes I just want to read a book from beginning to end as quickly as possible. Arcadia was perfect for this venture, both because I was immediately in love with it, and because the book itself is about experiences that wrap around you until the outside world fades away.

March 27, 2012

The Camaraderie of the Underrated: JC Gabel Relaunches The Chicagoan 5

Chicago! We’ve got this great chef, and an amazing architect, and these cool music guys, and really good coffee!

October 11, 2011

Scrabble For Cheaters 0

Next Saturday I will be competing (fiercely, one hopes) in Scrabble For Cheaters, a charity tournament to benefit 826CHI, Chicago’s chapter of the national creative writing organization (founded by Dave Eggers) that provides free tutoring, field trips, writing workshops and the like to over 4,000 Chicago students a year. To support their work, and augment […]

September 27, 2011

Play It Again: Neal Stephenson’s Reamde 4

Every video game has a guiding story. “PLUMBER’S GIRLFRIEND CAPTURED BY APE!” was the original game story, and they have evolved from that into worlds of moral quandary.

September 19, 2011

Loving a Monster: Alina Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine 2

Imagine Sophia from The Golden Girls in Soviet Russia – spewing insults, exaggerating her own worth, bemoaning the state of things. Instead of being surround by three salty dames who deflect her barbs with their own, she’s surrounded by a husband, daughter, and granddaughter whose will to live she has methodically trampled.

August 31, 2011

Conversations with Cocktails: Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility 4

It’s reminiscent of Fitzgerald or Waugh, in that “what gay parties we all had in those days, until our inner demons simply couldn’t be repressed any longer” vein.

August 30, 2011

A Visit to Gettysburg 1

The Gettysburg gaze is a particular brand of narration that pervades the town, describing every skirmish as good vs. good. Good wins.

July 29, 2011

A Thousand and One Knights: George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons 12

Seabiscuit wasn’t about a horse. You don’t have to like football to love Friday Night Lights. A great narrative is great in any genre, and A Song of Ice and Fire is perhaps the most compelling, fully realized narrative in modern literature.

June 22, 2011

The Three Worlds of Jesse Ball’s The Curfew 3

Much of Ball’s writing takes place in worlds that are slightly off, where the rules of society have been changed, and both the characters in these worlds and we, the readers, aren’t entirely clear what the new rules are. I’ve never felt oriented in one of Ball’s novels, but I’m quite sure I’m not meant to.