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Lawrence Santoro

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Tales From the Red Lion
by Lawrence Santoro  Richard Chwedyk, J.A. Konrath, Martin Mundt, et al... 

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Books by Lawrence Santoro
· Hell in the Heartland
· Just North of Nowhere
· A Dark and Deadly Valley
· Sex Crimes
                >> View all



ISBN-10:  0977985628 Type: 


Copyright:  June, 2007 ISBN-13:  9780977985623


The Red Lion Pub is the most haunted place in Chicago. These are tales -- real and imagined -- set in this wondrous old joint!

What I write here of my experiences, I swear, is the truth. The rest? I don't know. John Cordwell loved a story and, "a story," he always said, "is best told, tinkered, sar; yes sar. Tinkered!"

As I write that, I hear John, in his Seventh Earl of Muffington voice. John Cordwell was not an Earl and there is no Muffington except in a foul tale or two, but being both very British and not-an-earl-of-anything was also part of the Book of Cordwell: that special creation, his life, his tale, a tale he tinkered all the time. Not lying, you understand, simply enhancing the experience of being John Cordwell for the credulous unenlightened.


All right, the Red Lion is a bar. A pub. A red pin on the map of my life. I've gone steady with the place since I moved to Chicago from the east. That was in the 70's of the last century. I was a theater-head when I arrived -- a director, looking for stories and people to direct.

The Lion is on Lincoln Avenue. Back then, Lincoln was a respectably seedy diagonal slant of Northside real estate: booksellers, coffee shops, folk joints and blues clubs, vastly trendy, ultra-edgy record shops, places that gathered the shuffling, the sweaty, the muy hip and the giggly, the pop-girls with their shy smiles and belly buttons and all those who wanted to feed on them all…

And theaters. Lincoln Avenue wove through what then was America's theater wonderland: Steppenwolf, Organic, St. Nicholas, Body Politic, Victory Garden. Oh, then was the heyday, high-water mark and Holy Golden Age of brash theatrical life and blood that was Chicago. Alas.

The area also had a reputation for the weird.

Across from the Lion is the Biograph Theater. In 1934, Gentleman Johnny -- John Dillinger -- spent the last two of his earthly-coiled hours watching Manhattan Melodrama at the Biograph. Then he walked onto Lincoln, into Chicago night, and was blown into history by G-Man Melvin Purvis. It's said when the wind swirls from the west to make the shadows moan, Dillinger's ghost loiters by the brick wall at the alley where he fell, a scent of the Indiana fields on which he grew up, rising, drifting…

Well, I don't believe in ghosts. Didn't believe.

Professional Reviews

--Janet C. Davies, ABC7 news
"Here's a book which records the richness of characters both real and unreal that prop up the bar of Chicago's best English Pub."

-- Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune
A great tavern is more than booze, soft lighting and edible food. A great tavern is understanding bartenders, interesting characters and stories... stories of all kinds. The Red Lion is one of the world's great taverns and now, finally, it's got the stories to match.

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