Synopses & Reviews
Known as much for his journalistic reporting as for the fiction he wrote under a variety of pen names, Bill Granger combined his divergent talents in his powerful novel Time for Frankie Coolin
. With distinctive voices, compelling characters, on-the-ground observation, and suspense, it offers a serious, illuminating take on the changing tides of race, class, and politics in late twentieth-century Chicago.
Time for Frankie Coolin tells the story of a plasterer turned landlord in Chicago who, in the late 1970s, buys abandoned buildings and makes them just habitable enough that he can charge minimal rent to his mostly black tenants. Frankieboth a tough guy in the trades and a family manhas done well by his wife and kids, moving them to a house in the suburbs. But a casual favor for his wifes cousinallowing the man to store some crates in an empty buildingand a random act of arson set in motion a cascade of crises, including a menacing pair of G-men and the looming threat of prison if Frankie doesnt talk. But since talking has never been one of Frankies strengths, he copes as he always has: by trying to tough it out on his own.
Calling to mind such gritty poets of the urban scene as George V. Higgins and Nelson Algren, Time for Frankie Coolin is both a psychological thriller and a 70s Chicago period piece that shines a surprisingly sympathetic light on the often ignored stories of the people who lived, worked, and died at the citys margins.
Collected here in one volume is James T. Farrell's renowned trilogy of the youth, early manhood, and death of Studs Lonigan: Young Lonigan
, The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan
, and Judgment Day
. In this relentlessly naturalistic portrait, Studs starts out his life full of vigor and ambition, qualities that are crushed by the Chicago youth's limited social and economic environment. Studs's swaggering and vicious comrades, his narrow family, and his educational and religious background lead him to a life of futile dissipation.
Ann Douglas provides an illuminating introductory essay to Farrell's masterpiece, one of the greatest novels of American literature.
Time for Frankie Coolin tells the story of an absentee landlord in Chicago who, in the late 1970s, buys abandoned buildings and makes them just barely habitable so that he can charge minimal rent to his mostly black tenants. He then moved his family to the suburbs. He misses the city, but is managing pretty well until he does a favor for his wifes cousin, allowing the man to store some crates in an empty building. Then someone sets the building on fire. Pretty soon, a pair of G-men start coming around, threatening Frankie with prison if he doesnt talk to them. Since talking is not one of Frankies strengths, he just copes as he always has: by trying to tough it out on his own. Part psychological thriller and part period piece, the novel vividly evokes the south and west sides of Chicago and the people who worked there in the 1970s.
About the Author
James Thomas Farrell (1904—1979) was born in Chicago to a struggling family of second-generation Irish Catholic immi grants. In 1907, his father, James Farrell, a teamster unable to support his growing family, placed young Jim with his maternal grandparents. It was his grandparents’ neighborhood in Chicago’s South Fifties that would provide the background to Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy. Farrell worked his way through the University of Chicago, shedding his Catholic upbringing and absorbing the works of William James, John Dewey, Sigmund Freud, while reading widely in American and European literature: Herman Melville, Sherwood Anderson, H. L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, and James Joyce were critical influences on his literary development. “Slob” (1929), his first published story, was also his first render ing of the real life “Studs Lonigan,” a young man he had known growing up in Chicago. Farrell’s first novel, Young Lonigan was published in 1932, followed by The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan (1934) and Judgment Day (1935)—the three volumes making up his celebrated Studs Lonigan trilogy. A prolific writer, Farrell left more than fifty books of stories and novels behind him when he died in 1979. Alongside his masterpiece Studs Lonigan, Farrell’s best-known works include the Danny O’Neill novels, A World I Never Made, No Star is Lost, Father and Son, and My Days of Anger. James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy is also available in Penguin Classics.
Ann Douglas teaches English at Columbia University. Her books include Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s and The Feminization of American Culture.
Table of Contents
Studs Lonigan Introduction by Ann Douglas
STUDS LONIGAN: A TRILOGY
The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan
Epilogue by James T. Farrell