“In that first early stage, I didn’t know what I was looking for,” he said. I was hoping to find the answer among the essays.” After about a week he narrowed the pool down to about 170, and then asked an informal committee for advice.“I looked at their feedback and from there narrowed it down to 50.
He also plans on turning his remaining store into a franchise.
“I think I’ll offer my winner the chance to be the first store of the franchise, but they don’t have to.
In a telephone conversation late Monday afternoon, Shteir, 49, told me that her piece is more properly called “an essay.” The books covered are columnist Neil Steinberg’s memoir of the city and his place in it; and—the only book she liked—Thomas Dyja’s “robust cultural history.” It explains, among other things, how Chicago “snuffed out Midwestern geniuses with radical roots.”* Reaction to Shteir’s article was quick and emotional, as Chicago readers in particular complained that the Shteir “essay” could be read as a slam at the city wrapped around a warning: If Chicago doesn’t solve its deadly serious problems, it risks becoming the next Detroit.
The three books, some griped, were simply a structure on which Shteir built her case against Chicago.
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That took 10–14 days to get their feedback, then I spent a week with their notes.” Last Friday, he had narrowed it down again to 10 essays from which he plans to choose the winner.
Chimera said that after he contacts the winner, he will first “try to talk them out of it.” Then, once all the legal work is “down on paper,” the store will make a public announcement.
A great city that deserves better.” Shteir seems to have taken the response in stride—she told me that she picked up many new Twitter followers—and her tone during our telephone conversation was confident and feisty.
Full disclosure: I’ve known Shteir for a couple of years—had lunch with her once, have seen her here and there, and have been in occasional e-mail contact.