Biography, Chicago, Reviews

Alex Kotlowitz reviews The Wagon

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A recent review of Martin Preib’s The Wagon and Other Stories from the City for begins by citing the some of the recent media coverage involving the Chicago Police Department—from the conviction of former commander Jon Burge “for lying about having tortured scores of suspects over a twenty-year period in the 1970s and ’80s,” to the recent death of officer Thomas Wortham IV, shot as a gang of thugs tried to steal his motorcycle, and, of course, the re-escalation of homicides in the city. The review continues:

Martin Preib’s The Wagon and Other Stories from the City is a welcome, albeit at times maddening, effort to fashion a narrative that reflects the reality of this messy, yet vital American city. Preib has been a Chicago cop for eight years, but he’s not defined by his police work. He greatly admires Walt Whitman and William Kennedy, writers who despite having seen the worst in mankind were (in the case of Kennedy, still is) capable of maintaining a faith—admittedly quivering at times—in the human spirit. Before his police work, Preib worked as a doorman at a downtown hotel, and there witnessed the grueling and often humiliating labor of those in the service industry. He soon became involved in an effort to take back the union from the corrupt old guard. Preib’s been around. He knows writing—and he knows the city’s darkest corners.
Preib is at his best when he’s telling stories. He opens with a trenchant and at times hilarious recounting of his first job in the police department, driving a wagon that transported dead bodies. His observations are keen and fresh…

Continue reading the B&N review or read “Body Bags,” a story from the book, and listen to a podcast.