Barry Lyga has written several books for children and young adults, including The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Gothgirl, Hero-type, and Boy Toy. Barry is coming to Chicago soon, so I thought I’d welcome him warmly (and satisfy my own curiosity) by answering five questions he had about Chicago and asking him five questions about his writing. As my guest, Barry gets some of his questions answered first:
What is the one thing that I — as a visitor to your city — should be sure to do/experience while in Chicago?
Chicago is a city with something for everyone, so it really depends on what you’re interested in. If you like whackadoodle sculptures with goofy names, you should definitely go to Millenium Park and take a picture of your reflection in the “cloud gate“–what we Chicagoans affectioderisively call “the bean”. I like to think of it as a space fetus/egg, and wait patiently for the day Valentine Michael Smith or some other such space creature will emerge and teach us about love and grokking.
As a writer for children and young adults, you might want to stop by Oz park and loudly sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” while holding onto one of the sculptures of Oz’s most famous citizens. This will also help you experience and participate in one of Chicago’s oldest and best loved traditions (second only to setting things on fire via farm animal), the public exhibition of weirdness. We have an entire public space dedicated to it, called Bughouse Square; although, really, any place in Chicago is perfect for railing against the guvmint, space aliens, and the eff bee eye.
If you like meat-y type things, you’ll want to get in line at Hot Doug’s to enjoy some delicious encased meats with themed names. If you’re impatient like I am, you might forego the line and go to Super Dawg instead, which makes up in anthropomorphic hot dogs what it lacks in cute, topical names for its food. It also has a slogan, “From the bottom of my pure beef heart,” that makes absolutely no sense, yet it still makes you feel all warm and beefy inside. There’s also Kuma’s Corner, land of the heavy metal burgers. They make you wait in line, too, which I don’t care for; but if you’re the kind of person who can eat hamburgers for breakfast/brunch, you might not have to wait terribly long.
You asked for ONE thing, though (have I mentioned before that I am really, really bad at math?) In that case, go to the Gallery Cabaret in Bucktown. You’ll get the public weirdness, sculptures & art (there’s a six foot long pencil adorning one wall, as well as a portrait of Ringo Starr made entirely of stars), home-grown music of every genre, and the owner, Kenny, can tell you more tales of historic Chicago than you can shake a stick at (and I don’t suggest shaking a stick at Kenny; he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, unless they tip really, really well).
Yet even with all that rambling, we haven’t even touched upon a quarter of what Chicago has to offer the intrepid explorer. When planning future visits (which you really should, because Chicago is also a hell of a town for writers), I’d suggest using the Not For Tourists guide to Chicago, as well as Walking Chicago, to walk off all of the meat you’ll be indulging in.
Chicago is known for sausage, so I must ask: Links or patties?
See above, and you’ll realize we don’t truck much in those pansy breakfast sausages. We prefer our sausages big and on a bun and buried under many toppings.
In our next installment I’ll post Barry’s response to my comparing him to Stephen King and a [there will be a ] discussion of villains (the bad guys, not the poetry).