Books

Stuart Dybek, I Sailed With Magellan
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I Sailed With Magellan

Genre: Fiction; Author: Stuart Dybek; Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Stuart Dybek’s South Side of Chicago is a bleak and luckless landscape, populated by hardscrabble folk, psycho Mobsters, and wandering bag ladies. On TV, the Cubs are always losing. A heartbreaking place – unless, of course, you live there. I Sailed With Magellan is a series of interconnected stories told by one such native, now grown. All are gems; each glistens with Dybek’s spare poetry; combined, they form a vibrant mosaic about a boy’s coming of age.

”We Didn’t” recounts a sexcapade on the beach that’s interrupted when a corpse washes ashore. In ”Song,” a goon-turned-music instructor parades his students through a particularly rough quarter to impress his girlfriend. ”Breasts” is a surreal, elusive beauty, wherein the lives of a bartender, a vicious hood, and a department-store detective pivot on an arm wrestle. ”I forgot how sometimes I f—ing hated it here,” says one character. But by ”Magellan”’s end, you’ll never want to leave.

Originally posted November 14 2003 — 12:00 AM EST

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