No Aces

The Studs Lonigan Trilogy by James T Farrell is a classic Top 150 novel. It is by far one of the best, grittiest Chicago stories I have read to date.

Set in the early 20th century, this is the story of the life of Studs Lonigan, a fictional Irish Catholic punk from the south side of Chicago, which unravels like a noir movie. The three novels cover Studs as a young boy in Catholic school, Studs as a teen hanging out with friends, and finally Studs as a young man living through the stock market crash and depression years in the early ’30’s.

Studs likes his liquor and cigarettes. He lacks motivation necessary to fulfill his wishes and dreams of success. He is uneducated, in poor health, and an overall wastrel. The changing times and a family who turn a blind eye to his failings paint a bleak prospect for Studs. Several of his friends are already dead at  young ages and he’s skidding up the same path.

Little in this novel is uplifting. In fact, the story is downright depressing. However, the skill withStuds’s it is told is masterful. I felt the characters in the novel; recognized their world because of the countless Chicago references. I believe many Chicago natives would feel the same as I do about this book. The changing neighborhoods, corner bars, parks, streets, subways, and beaches are vivid in my mind. The author writes about the decline of Studs’s neighborhood as different ethnic groups enter and leave it. There exists a great deal of prejudice in the story much of which, wrong as it may be, we have all witnessed.

Stud Lonigan captures a tragedy not only of the past, but present as well. It is a social commentary which tells it “like it is”. Excellent read!

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About dianeledet

Professional Writing Consultant, Graduate of DePaul University School for New Learning 2008
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