Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: An Extraordinary Regular Guy

Saturday, November 01, 2008

An Extraordinary Regular Guy

The bard of Chicago, or as Dennis Kucinich wrote, "our Boswell, our Whitman, our Sandburg," died at his home on Friday. He was 96, and he was progressive through and through to the last. He became an institution in Chicago, mostly by interviewing others on the radio, but he was primarily known nationally for his writing, which when you come down to it, was mostly about interviewing others. I don't know if he was necessarily America's foremost oral historian, but he was certainly the most high profile. He apparently had a way of making people feel comfortable, because he got them to open up and tell him unexpected things in books such as Hard Times, Working, and The Good War, which won him a Pulitzer Prize. But no matter how high he rose in literary circles, he never lost his common touch. We met Studs just once, and perhaps keeping with his "regular guy" persona, he was much more interested in meeting Mrs. Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk than he was me. Ah, well.

Rick Kogan has a thorough obituary in the Chicago Tribune, but in keeping with Studs's progressive bona fides, there's a fair amount of information to be found at The Nation's site. Calvin Trillin had a nice tribute on the occasion of Studs's 95th birthday last year, and Bruce Shapiro and John Nichols offer new remembrances. If you're looking to experience Studs in his natural environment, the Chicago Historical Society has a veritable treasure trove of all thinks Studs, including a number of his radio interviews.

Thanks for everything you've left behind, Studs.


At 2:31 PM, November 03, 2008, Blogger Stuart Shea said...

Thanks for this piece. I've been trying to figure out what to say about Studs, and I appreciate that you were able to convey such nice things about him. I only met him once, but I felt richer for it and poorer now that he's gone.


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