Overview


A remarkably assured and accomplished debut novel that encompasses the bursting life of contemporary Chicago, Looped tells the separate stories of a diverse group of Chicagoans—black, brown, and white, gay, straight, and bi—as their lives unfold in diverging and (occasionally) converging ways over the course of the year 2000. Among the characters are the family of a middle-class black postman whose runaway daughter has just learned she’s pregnant; a gifted half-Vietnamese high-schooler whose troubled father ...
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Looped

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Overview


A remarkably assured and accomplished debut novel that encompasses the bursting life of contemporary Chicago, Looped tells the separate stories of a diverse group of Chicagoans—black, brown, and white, gay, straight, and bi—as their lives unfold in diverging and (occasionally) converging ways over the course of the year 2000. Among the characters are the family of a middle-class black postman whose runaway daughter has just learned she’s pregnant; a gifted half-Vietnamese high-schooler whose troubled father spies on the son he abandoned years earlier; a tradition-bound Greek diner owner whose upwardly mobile daughter, embarrassed by her ethnic roots, is snarled in a loveless marriage; a gay chef whose shaky relationship is strained by the visit of his closeted lover’s uncle, a Catholic priest; and the motley members of an up-and-coming band shaken by the breakup of its ambitious lead guitarist and his sexually confused songwriter girlfriend. Ambitious, sprawling, engrossing, multifaceted, insightful, and readable, Looped explodes with a life and vitality that mirrors the multicultural reality of 21st-century Chicago, where the families that sustain us are more likely to be those we’ve created than those we’re born to.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
College dropout Ellen Kovacs wanders through the Chicago neighborhood of Rogers Park, using an 8mm camera to follow a single face. It's a fine metaphor for this clear-sighted debut novel, which evokes all the variety of the massive city of Chicago by focusing on the workings of one neighborhood. The face Ellen follows belongs to Alice O'Leary, a struggling musician with a job in a flower shop. At the shop, Alice meets Nathan and his lover, Robin, who are trying to keep up a relationship despite heavy baggage on both sides. Across the street from the flower shop is a diner frequented by Ng Pran-Markowitz, a teenage artist and loner. The diner, in turn, is owned by Elias Kanakes, who is losing his connection to his family and worries that his restaurant's day has passed. His mail is delivered by Alphonse Duchossois, an African-American who befriends Florence Finkel, an elderly Jewish widow who sees visions of her late husband. Winston spins his wheel of characters round and round over the course of a single year, capturing the way relationships bloom and break apart and raising unspoken questions: What constitutes community? What do people really have in common? Winston gives Chicago the complex treatment it deserves, both as a dynamic city and a collection of individuals. He demonstrates that people who share space also share responsibility for one another. As Ellen says to Alice, "Some day... you have to promise something to someone." (Mar. 1) Forecast: This should do especially well in the Chicago area, but a few prominent reviews could help it attract national attention, too. A nice collection of blurbs-from Po Bronson, Donald Harington, Lisa Tucker and Adam Langer-will give it a push out the gate. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A portrait of the Windy City that's made up of many strands and colors. The action unfolds over the course of the year 2000-between one New Year's party and the next-all of it lovingly detailed, with emphasis on geographic exactness. As a love letter to rough-and-tumble Chicago, Winston's debut novel succeeds, but at the same time it suffers dramatically due to its rather inconsequential parade of characters becoming lost in their setting (something that Adam Langer's similarly conceived Crossing California successfully avoided). Author Winston, a former editor of the Chicago Review, has carefully chosen his dramatis personae for their ethnic, sexual, geographic and socioeconomic particularities, some only tangentially related to the others' plot strands, if at all. There's Ellen, the flaky former suburbanite whose daddy has just turned off the money spigot and who can't commit to her troubled girlfriend, Megan. Alphonse, the black postman, is having serious family issues, while Florence, one of the older women on Alphonse's route, is trying to get over her husband's recent death. Some of the stories turn too much on situational plot hooks, as when gay couple Nathan and Robin have to make room in their apartment for Nathan's uncle, a homophobic priest, or when singer Brad ditches his on-the-cusp band to try making it in New York (on the advice of his calculating lover), only to come crawling back after realizing the joke was on him. Winston knows better than to try to weave everything together here, since the necessary coincidences would badly strain credibility. There are characters who do end up migrating into each others' lives by the story's end, but, even then, the result is anoverlong narrative that's too heavy on setting and, in the interest of not giving short shrift to anyone, loses sight of its more intriguing figures. A first effort that's charming at times but doesn't know when to cut itself short.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572846166
  • Publisher: Agate
  • Publication date: 3/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 409
  • File size: 511 KB

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2005

    Da Loop

    None of Mr Winston's cast of characters are lost in the shuffle. The author successfully captured my thread of interest for each character throughout. Though I am not a Chicagoan, I found the densely descriptive settings intriguing and engaging, though it makes me like where I live. For me the characters thrive in the narrative and humor is adroitly interwoven to make this a most enjoyable read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2005

    definitely gets chicago

    Winston gets Chicago right, which is not easy to do; the real Chicago shines through brilliantly in his debut. This is a great read. He takes on a lot, especially for a first novel, and executes well. Saying it's as much about Chicago as about the characters misses the point: Chicago IS a character, is the main character, a fabulous character. Highly recommend.

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