Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ideas about Place (and Travel): Wendy McClure

I stumbled across I'm Not the New Me at the Brown Elephant thrift store recently. It's a memoir, and I adore it.

It's written by fellow Chicagoan Wendy McClure, who blogs at a site called Pound. The book, to her enormous credit, grew out of the blog. She writes about her struggle to lose weight in a snarky world that expects it of her. Chicago is her backdrop.

Here's an excerpt that reveals a bit of her thoughts about this place:

"We're taking the Chicago Skyway out. The road vaults up to the Skyway bridge that takes us over Calumet City, over barges and water treatment plants and electrical towers and big tanks of God knows what. We have to roll up the windows when we cross over into Indiana, through Hammond and Gary. The first hour of any trip east from Chicago takes you through panoramic swaths of industrial stuff, all of it ugly, all hell, and we love it. It makes Indiana into an epic."

I love that stretch in a weird way, too. It kind of reminds me of Pittsburgh. My grandfather worked in the steel mills there, and the ugliness of that industry had an inexplicable, captivating charm. Of course, that could be the nostalgia talking.

But, it did seem that any moment while driving around there, we might stumble across a mysterious passage. I imagined it would lead to the enormous pot of molten steel my grandfather used to talk about. One time, he said, a man fell in, and they had to bury the entire pot because his body would never be found and the steel would never be any good.

[Other fave memoirs of late: Eat, Pray, Love and The Glass Castle.]

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