North and Central – Book Review

I’ve never been to Chicago, but I have laid back on my couch, put my feet up, and stared longingly at Fiona, Veronica, Svetlana, and sometimes even Kevin, especially when he was wearing nothing but the elephant teddy bear in the US version of Shameless.

Shameless is a fun show and keeps you coming back from week to week with the shock factor of pegging, lots of nudity, and a good peppering of violence. While North and Central, a book by Bob Hartley, offers a little bit of gay sex, some drunken fights, and gun violence, it’s the story line that truly got me invested.

Like Shameless, North and Central is a story set in Chicago that follows the lives of a small group of people, and what I truly love about the book and the show is the unique way they both have of showing the lives of some people that might not matter much in society, while making the reader and watcher think about the overall sociological factors that go into making them the way they are.

North and Central unapologetically transports you to Chicago in the late 70’s. Hartley’s ability to make you remember every character with nicknames and Chicago style attitudes makes the book an easy and interesting read.

Hartley’s style has a way of bringing you into something that doesn’t seem too heavy or too desperate, even while bad things are happening in the background. Even though John Wayne Gacy is murdering people in the city, the story isn’t about him; it’s more about Andy, a bartender, who might actually be a pretty good person but is constantly surrounded by crime and corruption.

This story feels honest and real. Its natural and realistic arc will pull you in, and like Shameless, it will get more gritty and more desperate. While you might question the thoughts, motives, and character of Andy, the protagonist, you will never doubt his humanity in this cold Chicago backdrop of grand theft, adultery, assault, and murder.

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