This is a familiar tale of immigrants and their descendants. See, deep down inside, Lefty, you know more than you think. Eddie says he is not going to the jail with him again, and Manny agrees to do something else the following night. Themes like poverty, faith, prejudice, immigration, assimilation, race, class…. Eerdmans Publishing,pp.

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Jun 07, Vit Babenco rated it really liked it The stories Chopin in Winter and Blight are magnificent and they reminded me of Jack Kerouac There seemed to be some unspoken relationship between being nameless and being a loser.

Watching the guys from Korea after their ball games as they hung around under the buzzing neon signs of their taverns, guzzling beers and flipping the softball, I got the strange feeling that they had actually chosen anonymity and the loserhood that went with it. It was something they looked for in one another, that held them together. The rest is pretty good. That was poetry. Good stuff.

Really good stuff. And so picking up this collection of stories about my favorite city, Chicago, and Dybeks hometown, too, I knew I would be in for a street wise treat. Oh yeah. Fourteen stories, and if you know anything about Dybek at all, you will know he is surrounded by awards and an otherwise impressive publishing history, so no need to go there.

And so, indeed, it resonated with me. Dybek, like me, comes from a richly ethnic background. In his case, he is a second-generation Polish-American, growing up in Chicago neighborhoods, southern side of that great city. Here, too. Quite a few of these stories intertwine music. The collection is an interesting mix of traditional sandwiched with flash fiction. Poetry in prose, nearly. What is surprise to others is old blood to the maestro.

It rides a glass streetcar that showers blue, electric sparks along the ghost of a track—a track paved over in childhood—the line that she and her mother used to take downtown. He has the pigeons up past their bedtime doing the mambo.

The smells are here, the tastes, the mix of languages, the music, the blend of humanity. Here the city kids and the first generation immigrants, the junkies and winos and ex-cons and their corrupt cops. Here, too, are stories about nothing, just the sense of being there, and so, stories about everything you need to know to share the experience. Dybek is a master of language, whatever medium he chooses—poetry or prose. He blends his arts, as all art should be a blend, all from the same fountainhead.

The crowded beach would gradually empty, and a pitted moon would hover over sand scalloped with a million footprints. It would be time to go.


Introduction & Overview of Hot Ice

Goltilkis Mass was changed from the traditional Latin to the language of parishioners. Typically, Dybek contrasts the immigrant generation with its third generation descendants with an eye toward showing cultural transformation, or he describes the simultaneous act of acquiring and rejecting a cultural past. He is arrested on a charge that Dybek does not explain in the story, and at his trial laughs at the judge who tries offering him the option of going into the military instead of going to jail. The reader feels transported to the Chicago streets through this story. It shows you how drugs, first-world poverty and crime have affected three young men, Manny, Pancho and Eduardo while also trying to discover the truth about an old urban legend.


‘Hot Ice’ by Stuart Dybek

As is typical of much of his work, Dybek mixes realism with fantasy to create a specific sense of place. At the center of the story is an urban legend about a girl who was drowned in a lake in the nearby park decades earlier and then frozen in the local ice house and the miracles that people around the neighborhood attribute to her. Her story affects the lives of three young men: Pancho, who is fanatically religious to the point of mental instability; his brother Manny, the cynic; and Eddie, who feels both the weight of tradition and the struggle to live a good life in a harsh environment. As they move through their days, Dybek renders with precise clarity the details of a city in transition, mixing memories of ice delivery and sharpening carts and streetcars and riding boxcars with the oppressive, looming presence of the county jail and the boarded windows of a neighborhood that is slipping away from memory. The story was published in Antaeus in , and the following year it was chosen for the O.



Everything is here — nostalgia, mystery, community, isolation, tragedy, comedy, and a bounty of beautiful symbolism. If I could figure out how Dybek did this — what magic tricks he employed to create such a masterpiece — I would be a much smarter version of myself. What I can figure out is that Dybek is about the best I know at mixing realism with symbolism. There is no denying the gritty portrait of ethnic Chicago he paints.

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