Up Against It in Chicago
Combining the incisive pen of a newspaperman and the compassionate soul of a poet, Mike Royko became a Chicago institution—in Jimmy Breslin’s words, "the best journalist of his time." Early Royko: Up Against It in Chicago will restore to print the legendary columnist’s earliest writings, which chronicle 1960s Chicago with the moral vision, ironic sense, and razor-sharp voice that would remain Royko’s trademark.
This collection of early columns from the Chicago Daily News ranges from witty social commentary to politically astute satire. Some of the pieces are falling-down funny and others are tenderly nostalgic, but all display Royko’s unrivaled skill at using humor to tell truth to power. From machine politicians and gangsters to professional athletes, from well-heeled Chicagoans to down-and-out hoodlums, no one escapes Royko’s penetrating gaze—and resounding judgment. Early Royko features a memorable collection of characters, including such well-known figures as Hugh Hefner, Mayor Richard J. Daley, and Dr. Martin Luther King. But these boldfaced names are juxtaposed with Royko’s beloved lesser knowns from the streets of Chicago: Mrs. Peak, Sylvester "Two-Gun Pete" Washington, and Fats Boylermaker, who gained fame for leaning against a corner light pole from 2 a.m. Saturday until noon Sunday, when his neighborhood tavern reopened for business.
Accompanied by a foreword from Rick Kogan, this new edition will delight Royko’s most ardent fans and capture the hearts of a new generation of readers. As Kogan writes, Early Royko "will remind us how a remarkable relationship began—Chicago and Royko, Royko and Chicago—and how it endures."
“[These] columns show that Royko, undeniably a talented writer even if he never graduated from high school, was first and foremost a born narrative storyteller. . . . Like missing teeth, ears, fingers, and legs, Chicago and Chicago journalism remain the less for the passing of Mike Royko.”