Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Lucky in Chicago: Carol Anshaw Celebrates Life and Love in the Second City with Her New Novel, Lucky in the Corner

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Lucky in Chicago: Carol Anshaw Celebrates Life and Love in the Second City with Her New Novel, Lucky in the Corner

Article excerpt

When Carol Anshaw settles into a chair at the Kopi Cafe, in the Chicago neighborhood known popularly as Girls' Town, it's clear at once that she's a regular. The waitress has tea at her elbow in seconds, and a stream of acquaintances hail her as she sips. "The more I live life, the richer it seems," she observes. "I won't ever be able to get it all down on the page."

It's no wonder rootedness and connection are such powerful themes in Anshaw's new novel, Lucky in the Corner. Though she's reticent about her personal life, it's clear that she's enjoying a hard-earned comfort zone. "I'm really lucky. I have a fabulous job," she says of her work at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she teaches writing to graduate students. "And I love Chicago. More and more I see the city as the canvas I'm painting on."

The Chicago surrounding Anshaw today is far different from the city she encountered when she arrived in 1968 during that year's infamous Democratic convention. "There was a cop on every comer," she says.

Her own life was as unsettled as the city. She came to Chicago to get married, and stayed married for "about a dozen" years before coming out. That period is ancient history now, and Anshaw is happily settled in what she calls "the best relationship of my life." Her partner of several years, Jessie Ewing, teaches kids with learning disabilities. "Oh, man," comments Anshaw. "I'm so lucky."

Yet there's a wilder current lurking beneath Anshaw's serene exterior. It emerges in her novels, all of whose heroines cheat on their partners at some point. Of Lucky, she says, "I wanted to do something with obsession. Having your life take a weird left turn, finding yourself on a pay phone at midnight, throwing your whole life up for grabs." This is familiar territory for fans of Seven Moves, the "antimystery" whose potent combination of lust and desolation wowed critics when it appeared in 1997. …

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