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Thusday Quotables – Looking ‘Em Over

Chicago Stories (James T. Farrell)

They crossed the sidewalk to stand in front of the new Ford. The space to its left was vacant, and a Chrysler, driven by a tall, burning blonde in purple, was driven into it. She sat by the wheel, powdering her nose. Replacing her powder puff in her bag, she lit a cigarette with a nickel cigarette-lighter.

“She’s got what I call meat,” Jack said, surreptitiously back-glancing at her.

“And class,” Don said.

“It’s just meat!”

“She makes most of them out here today look like pikers,” Don said.

A dark-haired girl in black bathing suit strode boyishly by them. She was long, supple, and tanned; her tights, and she was flat-chested.

“Oh! Oh!” exclaimed Don.

“She’s jail bait,” Jack said.

“Know her?”

“I know who she is. She goes to St. Paul’s. All the boys around the beach here have a feel-day with her, and she doesn’t mind it.”

“Piggly-wiggly girl, huh?” Don said, his mind inflamed.

“Well, now, I think that Monk Sweeney made the grade with her over on the Jackson Park golf course one night. I wouldn’t say for sure, but that’s my suspicion.”

LOOKING 'EM OVER by J.T. Farrell “She makes most of them out here today look like pikers.” #Chicago Share on X
Thursday Quotables Meme

I can’t say anything clicked between me and James Farrell. I wanted to read his work because he wrote Irish- American stories in Chicago between the early 1930s and the late 1940s, so it’s relevant to my story, but honestly I can’t relate to his aesthetics. He thought stories should just mimic life, and so most of them don’t really tell a story at all, but just depict a vignette.
Not really my stuff.

But this particular story, Looking ‘Em Over, from his collection Chicago Stories, was different… at least for me. It is a vignette, so it doesn’t tell a story anyway, but it depicts the life of youths in that period. It was interesting seeing the dynamics from the eyes of someone who lived it rather that someone trying to recreate it. Youths’ life what going through a huge change in the Twenties, especially life of young women. Sometimes I think their life was like ours a lot more than we think.

So this was fun. Hope you enjoy it too.

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Pinteret pin. The text reads, "Looking 'em over by James Farrell (book review)". The picture shows a photo of a cluster of 1920s flappers in bathing suits smoking on the beach.
LOOKING 'EM OVER (James T. Farrell) - Summer days on the beach in Chicago in the 1920s may sound a lot like hunting

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