On October 10, in the City of Big Shoulders, I was presented with the Carl Sandburg Literary Award at the annual gala sponsored by the Chicago Public Library Foundation.
It’s a lovely award, and quite an honor. Last year’s winners were Judy Blume and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Previous winners have included such luminaries as Alice Walker, Larry McMurtry, Margaret Atwood, Scott Turow, Isabel Allende, Roger Ebert, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Tom Wolfe, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Kurt Vonnegut, and many many others. That’s a club that I am thrilled and proud to belong to.
I was also happy to share the evening with the amazing Dr. Eve Ewing, who won the foundation’s 21st Century Award, along with 82 other writers from Chicago and the surrounding area, all of whom were brought on stage for a bow (among them were several folks from the SF world, including Mary Robinette Kowal and Alec Nevala-Lee).
The gala was lovely and the award prestigious, and I also got to meet Chicago’s new mayor. But the very best part of the evening was being told afterward that we had raised two-and-a-half million dollars for the Chicago Public Library.
The day after the Sandburg dinner, I appeared at the Chicago Symphony as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. One of the most amazing things about that event was the way they sent out the invitations to it — by raven.
The birds did their job admirably, and a huge crowd attended. Once again I shared the stage with the incredible Eve Ewing, who did a terrific interview of me. But the fun started with our entrance. They took us down into the basement and stood us on a riser, and as the Spektral Quartet played the theme to GAME OF THRONES, Eve and I rose up dramatically from below through clouds of dry ice mist. Now if only I could persuade CoNZealand to do the same next August, when I emcee the Hugo Awards.
After the two big events, I went up to Evanston one day to meet with the dean of the Medill School of Journalism on the Northwestern campus (quite a few changes since my day), and talk to some current Medill students, all of them impossibly young and formidably smart. Back in the Loop, I also met with some M.F.A. candidates from the Communications department about writing for television and film, and even sat down with the VISTA Volunteers now serving with Chicago Legal Aid… where I served as a VISTA from 1971-1973.
And of course I had to make a couple of visits to Greektown for saganaki and moussaka. Opaa! Opaa! Nobody sets fire to cheese better than the good folks at the Greek Islands.
Chicago remains one of my favorite cities in the world, and it was wonderful to return there for a few days. While I failed to find my lost youth, it was fun to revisit the scenes of the crimes and meet some of my successors. My thanks to the Chicago Public Library Foundation, the Chicago Humanities Festival, and Northwestern University for all their hospitality.
Current Mood: pleased