CCLaP’s The New York Stories: Kick Assedly Illustrated by Laura Szumowski

The Chicago Center for Literature & Photography (CCLaP) has been making the rounds of these internets for a good while recently and will continue to do so for a good while yet. Why? To sound the trumpet for their wonderfully conceived The New York Stories, a compendium of two previously published ebooks by longtime friend of Untoward, Ben Tanzer.

But forget all that.

I mean, sure, as I say we love Ben. But there’s also the pictures! The pictures are something we here at Untoward love. We enjoy looking at things. And Ben’s not responsible for those. Laura Szumowski is!

The cover is made of faux-suede and bound with external Coptic stitching. That’s right, COPTIC. But most important of all is the pictures, one of which, as you can see, graces the front cover.

Here, see it up much closer:

No! We can do even bigger than that! Bigger and more seeable here:

There. Now you can really SEE. This is upper New York state, much the same as the one that author Ben Tanzer grew up in. Or so I’m told. It’s also as rendered through the eyes Laura Szumowski, a native Chicagoan, who’s maybe never seen even pictures of New York! Or something similar to Kafka’s situation in relation to Amerika, a country he’d never in his lifetime visit. Except, of course, Kafka had no Ben Tanzer, and he stopped writing Amerika, an unfinished novel, some twelve years before he died. It’s entirely possible Szumowski has been to upper New York, certainly at the least seen pictures.  But that becomes a pretty considerable digression, so perhaps we’ll just move on.

Unless you wanted to keep talking about Kafka…no, no of course not.


Here’s a few members of the cast of one of the stories:

If you’re a betting person I’d go with a young Ben Tanzer being the one on the far left there. Even if it’s a known fact Tanzer is a diehard Deadhead and less interested in the psychedelic stylings of  Pink Floyd.

Though we could speculate all day about who in the above illustration is intended to be based on a young Ben Tanzer. I like to think they all are, in some way, a young Ben Tanzer. And do you know who allowed me to think these things? Laura Szumowski! So don’t fight it, speculate away. And there are almost certainly many other things to appreciate about this fantastic collaboration between two of Chicago’s best people, especially in terms of what they do really spectacularly well.

Go, go now!