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'We Speak Chicagoese' Offers Glimpse Of City Life Via Short Stories, Poems

By Howard Ludwig | October 24, 2016 5:52am
 Dennis Foley of Beverly spent four years compiling short stories and poems for
Dennis Foley of Beverly spent four years compiling short stories and poems for "We Speak Chicagoese." The book features 28 contributors with the goal of tapping an authentic "Chicago voice," he said.
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DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig

BEVERLY — Dennis Foley's search for an authentic "Chicago voice" has led to a book of 33 short stories and poems from 28 authors throughout the area.

"We Speak Chicagoese" ($15.95, Side Street Press) debuted last month. Foley, a Beverly author, has been working to compile the collection for nearly four years, he said.

"I think this [book] comes from a lot of different areas in Chicago with a lot of writers from different backgrounds," said Foley, who also wrote the screenplay for the Beverly-based indie film "Not A Stranger."

Foley contributed to the new book but said the stories from notable Chicago authors such as Stuart Dybek, Rick Kogan, Joe Meno and others are what truly motivated him to push forward with the 237-page project.

"I am proud of my story in there," Foley said while eating an omelet at Ellie's Cafe in Morgan Park. "But I am so much more proud of being involved as an editor."

Indeed, Foley is named as an editor of the book along with his longtime friend Bill Donlon. The pair have been busy bringing the book to audiences via readings at local libraries, bookstore signings and other events.

And while Foley makes no apologies for his South Side roots, his latest book offers a wider sampling of life throughout the city, including Meno's description of a young couple in Edgewater and stories of Kogan's apartment in Old Town.

The book has received several positive reviews since its introduction Sept. 17 at the Beverly Arts Center.

• Windy City Reviews said, "'We Speak Chicagoese' is an eclectic collection of short stories and poems about Chicago that portray the city’s flavor and character — its grandness and grittiness, its toughness and tenderness."

• Newcity had this to say, "The authors take us from Foster Beach to Englewood, from Edgewater to Marquette Park, from the Loop to Humboldt Park and the diction and perspective shifts along the way."

As for Foley, he bounced around the South Side as a boy but said he mostly grew up near St. Sabina Parish in Auburn-Gresham. His first big break came in 2004 with a book called "The Streets & San Man's Guide to Chicago Eats."

Foley wrote the book while in graduate school at Columbia College. It's based on his previous career as an electrician for the city department, recalling all of the favorite places he and the crew would grab lunch.

His story in "We Speak Chicagoese" is titled "Pretty Please." Foley said the fictional story borrows bits and pieces from his past, including memories of his grandfather who served as a father figure.

He added that if book sales take off — particularly with the holidays approaching — he might consider a sequel, simply titled "We Speak Chicagoese, Part II."

"Personally, I love Chicago stories," he said.

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