Fatal Fortune: The Death of Chicago's Millionaire Orphan

Fatal Fortune: The Death of Chicago's Millionaire Orphan

Fatal Fortune: The Death of Chicago's Millionaire Orphan

Fatal Fortune: The Death of Chicago's Millionaire Orphan


In Fancy Beasts, the author of Hallelujah Blackout and Mosquito takes on California, the 2008 election, plastic surgery, Larry Craig, wildfires, Wal-Mart, and rampant commercialism - in short, the modern American media culture, which provides obscene foil for his personal legacies of violence and violation. This pivotal book captures the turning point in a life of abuse, in which the recovering victim/perpetrator puzzles through the paradigm of son-to-husband-to-father. Frenetic, hilarious, and fearless, these poems are a workout - vigorous and raw. Yet they are also composed and controlled, pared down and sculpted, with a disarming narrative simplicity and directness. Even when dealing with toxic content, the point of view is always genuine and trustworthy. This stunning achievement marks Alex Lemon's best work yet.


In the twenty years I have been familiar with this case, the biggest mystery to me is why nobody has ever written about it. the McClintock-Shepherd saga could not have been performed against a more colorful background or with a more colorful cast of characters.

Jazz Age Chicago teemed with personality. It also teemed with quite a bit of violence, and the possible typhoid poisoning of a young millionaire must have seemed pretty tame in comparison. Prohibition was in effect, and as a result, organized crime was having a field day. Nearly every newspaper edition carried some account of a gangland attack as the various mob families vied for power in Chicago. Johnny Torrio, Bugs Moran, Al Capone, Dion O’Banion, the Genna brothers—they’re all here, sharing space with the investigation into the suspicious death of Billy McClintock.

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb are here, too, having just gone through their sentencing hearing in the summer of 1924. They pop up on occasion in reports from Joliet Prison, where they were working on sentences of life plus ninety-nine years. the same prosecutorial crew took on the Shepherd case, and in the same courtroom.

It was a time of union start-ups, and the violence that attended those birth pangs overflows into our story in the persons of . . .

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