Chicago Writer’s Book Woven With Fear And Kindness, Like The City Itself

By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Beautiful piece by Columnist Heidi Stevens on the power of fear, love and kindness.

Chicago Tribune

It’s about fear and kindness and how they sometimes cancel each other out, which is wonderful when it’s kindness canceling out fear and awful when it’s the other way around.

I went to a book release party recently. My friend Megan Stielstra wrote “The Wrong Way to Save Your Life” (Harper Perennial), and she rented out Uptown Underground to mark the publication date.

Chicago filled the place up.

Stielstra’s DJ friends played music while she performed chapters from her book, and people stood in line for hours afterward to hug her.

Writer Sarah Hollenbeck, co-owner of Andersonville gem Women & Children First bookstore, introduced Stielstra. Poet Parneshia Jones climbed on stage and read “What Would Gwendolyn Brooks Do.”

Did you see that, Ms. Brooks?

Do you see what we’ve become?

They are skinning our histories,
deporting our roots,
detonating our very right to tell the truth.

It was one of those evenings when you’re laughing one minute and ugly crying the next and not because of the drinks. Because of the words, and because of the city where you’re hearing them, our beautiful, broken city where people create art and die in unacceptable numbers.

I went alone. I figured I would know people when I got there, but when it was time to find a seat, I was gripped with seventh-grade anxiety that no one would want to sit by me. (Fear.) I found an empty seat and asked a nice woman if I could have it, and she said, “Of course!” (Kindness.)

It turns out we know each other. We’re connected on social media and share mutual friends. I spent almost an hour after the performances talking to her and her husband about Chicago’s media landscape and parenting and the healing powers of a night like the one we were having.

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