“The columns in 1,001 Afternoons inChicago are scruffy time capsules of an earlier Chicago, an era that is long gone but still recognizable to readers' imaginations. Michigan Avenue, Lake Michigan, street names such as Dearborn and Adams and LaSalle and Wabansia, places such as the Art Institute of Chicago—they're all here, sprinkled amid Hecht's nervous little haikus of urban life. He calls Chicago ‘a razzle-dazzle of dreams, tragedies, fantasies,’ and his tales capture gorgeous scraps of it, vivid vignettes starring businessmen and hobos and cops and socialites and janitors. . . . Thanks to Hecht, the Chicago of 1922 and the Chicago of 2009 bump into each other, shake hands, exchange greetings. Then, this being Chicago, they go for a drink and talk about old times. New ones too.”
(Julia Keller Chicago Tribune
"Hecht's youthful journalism remains both movving and dazzling. He sided with the scrappy underdog and was endlessly alert to the moods of the great city that was his subject. . . . Saul Bellow read this book while still in high school and would always remember it, maybe because Hecht's sketches, while sometimes gritty and violent in content, also present a quest for lyricism and hope."
(Richard Rayner Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Ben Hecht (February 28, 1894 - April 18, 1964), was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, and novelist. Called "the Shakespeare of Hollywood", he received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some 70 films and as a prolific storyteller, authored 35 books and created some of the most entertaining screenplays or plays in America. According to film historian Richard Corliss, he was "the" Hollywood screenwriter, someone who "personified Hollywood itself." The Dictionary of Literary Biography - American Screenwriters, calls him "one of the most successful screenwriters in the history of motion pictures." He was the first screenwriter to receive an Academy Award for Original Screenplay, for the movie Underworld (1927). The number of screenplays he wrote or worked on that are now considered classics is, according to Chicago's Newberry Library, "astounding," and included films such as, Scarface (1932), The Front Page, Twentieth Century (1934), Barbary Coast (1935), Stagecoach, Some Like It Hot, Gone with the Wind, Gunga Din, Wuthering Heights, (all 1939), His Girl Friday (1940), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), Monkey Business, A Farewell to Arms (1957), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), and Casino Royale (posthumously, in 1967). In 1940, a film he wrote, produced, and directed, Angels Over Broadway, was nominated for Best Screenplay. Six of his movies overall were nominated for Academy Awards, with two winning.