but i wanted to drift back to the bit of Saul Bellow quoted by Fred Exley, the "somber city" of Augie's first paragraph if I'm not mistaken, and truth be told, I've read four or five Bellow novels but not that one and yet I think of it a lot, think of reading it, own it in fine trade paper, and have already named a central character in a future novel Auggie in recognition of Bellow's fellow and also the Harvey Keitel cigar-store photographer in Paul Auster and Wayne Wang's Smoke
But back to Chicago--is it a somber city? it certainly is a windy one, so much so that our flight was delayed three hours due to strong gusts and then receiving luggage straight from the plane, outside on the runway became an exercise in survival of the most sensibly dressed, and it helped if you hid behind the other passengers and let their bodies break the wind (so to speak)
Chicago hasn't seemed so somber, it's seemed cold, and we haven't really been very far from the hotel, just one trip to Chinatown, which seemed quite empty, and this could be due to the economy or the cold although there were people inside the restaurants, we were told by the concierge to take a taxi because they don't want guests walking by the government housing on the way to Chinatown, a "for your own safety" kind of thing, so we passed the projects in a taxi minivan (seeing more of those for whatever reason), and we saw some people but neither the buildings nor the citizens looked particularly somber although at the restaurant, Old Sze Chuan, it was more or less, "first to knock, first admitted"
OK, maybe we gather more data and report back later, we're hoping to see University of Chicago later and will report back on the ghosts of Bloom and Bellow if such are seen preparing for their Halloween spooking
PS--amazon recently notified me that bellow's letters are available there at discount