Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Billy Lombardo and Dressel's Whipped Cream Cakes

The Wallace Playlot
Somewhere east of Bridgeport, the summer sun rises each day like bread dough, and sixteen hours later, west of St. David's, it settles neatly into the last sidewalk crack in the world like a big yellow nickel. Between these risings and settings, it bakes the Wallace Playlot into cornmeal yellow and plays with the shadows of boys.

Across the street, two floors above the swinging white sign of Dressel's Bakery, my mother calls me home from our living room window. Her voice is soft and high-pitched, and her lips move in the shape of my name.

Above are the first two paragraphs from some short fiction by Bridgeport writer Billy Lombardo.

Last Sunday's Trib had a review of his book The Logic of a Rose: Chicago Stories.

That was the first I had heard of Lombardo but I'll run out and buy his book and add him to my small collection of books by Chicago authors.

I have all of Stuart Dybek's books although sometimes I find him tough going. He's a little too surreal for me sometimes. Saul Bellow outside of the Adventures of Augie March has no appeal for me either.

Farrell's Studs Lannigan I enjoyed but mostly because I knew guys like Studs (in fact I knew a guy named Studs) growing up in south Oak Park in the 1960s.

What catches me with Chicago books are the occasional references to something I knew, and in Lombardo's writing, it's his memory of Dressel's Bakery and Dressel's whipped cream cakes.

I'd eat these cakes frozen as a kid --in their entirity-- and kept it up right through bachelorhood when my idea of a relaxing weekend was making a pot of chicken-noodle soup and finishing off my meal with one of those Dressel's cakes for dessert.

Guess I'm not literary.

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