Extended Audio Sample

Download Never a City So Real: A Walk in Chicago Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Never a City So Real: A Walk in Chicago Audiobook, by Alex Kotlowitz Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (500 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Alex Kotlowitz Narrator: Scott Brick Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2004 ISBN: 9781415905340
Regular Price: $12.50 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $11.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

The acclaimed author of There Are No Children Here takes us into the heart of Chicago by introducing us to some of the city’s most interesting, if not always celebrated, people.

Chicago is one of America’s most iconic, historic, and fascinating cities, as well as a major travel destination. For Alex Kotlowitz, an accidental Chicagoan, it is the perfect perch from which to peer into America’s heart. It’s a place, as one historian has said, of “messy vitalities,” a stew of contradictions: coarse yet gentle, idealistic yet restrained, grappling with its promise, alternately sure and unsure of itself. 

Chicago, like America, is a kind of refuge for outsiders. It’s probably why Alex Kotlowitz found comfort there. He’s drawn to people on the outside who are trying to clean up—or at least make sense of—the mess on the inside. Perspective doesn’t come easy if you’re standing in the center. As with There Are No Children HereNever a City So Real is not so much a tour of a place as a chronicle of its soul, its lifeblood. It is a tour of the people of Chicago, who have been the author’s guides into this city’s—and in a broader sense, this country’s—heart.

Download and start listening now!

BK_BKOT_000235

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 2/12/2014

    " This was another great book by Alex Kotlowitz. It is much more uplifting than There Are No Children Here, while still real and gritty. I loved all of the individual stories, especially when I could relate to a certain neighborhood or group. Awesome book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Molly | 2/6/2014

    " If nothing else, lovers of Chicago and well-written prose will enjoy the first chapter, which shares the book's title and is essentially a 14-page homage to the city. Each chapter focuses on a Chicagoan or a group of Chicagoans as Kotlowitz attempts to describe the city by describing its inhabitants. A quick and enjoyable read, "Never a City So Real: A Walk in Chicago" says everything I have always wanted to say about a city I am still just beginning to know and love. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Manda | 2/3/2014

    " Fantastic! absolutely love this author and wish he would write more!! made me incredibly homesick and validated my opinions about my hometown. when i am describing the creature culture of the second city to other folks, apparently Kotlowitz and I absolutely agree about the commonalities in character in people from such a diverse city all squished in together. highly recommended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adam W | 1/31/2014

    " I thought it was good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maureen | 1/30/2014

    " Really liked this! I want to go to Manny's on the South Side now and spend more time in Albany Park (did not know anything about AP before I started reading this book. Very interesting history!). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott | 1/25/2014

    " I've lived in Chicago for a year now - I wouldn't have been ready to appreciate this book before now - but it's a wonderful set of stories about the political, racial, and economic realities of the city that are often hidden from clear view. A must-read for anyone who's moved to Chicago and finds themselves pondering its unique features. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 K.J. Kron | 1/14/2014

    " An interesting twist - take some not so well know people who have influence Chicago and tell their stories. It takes you to corners of of city an tourist wouldn't except to go. I read it before visiting Chicago. Although it didn't change what I came to see, it did give me a feel for the city and it's diversity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Theresa | 1/10/2014

    " I really liked this book. Kotlowitz tells the histories of various Chicago neighborhoods from the perspectives of some of their longtime residents. It's not preachy but illustrates that the city's history is more than just the Daleys and Marshall Field. Quick read too. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Colleen | 1/7/2014

    " makes you proud to live in chicago. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 1/6/2014

    " One of the Crown Journeys series. This one is really more a meditation on working class chicago in the 20-21st century than a travel book about the city but that doesn't matter. It's well worth reading "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alyssa | 12/26/2013

    " One of the best books about Chicago ever. Written about the people who live here, for the people who live here. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Margaret | 12/20/2013

    " Another glorious ode to Chicago, complete with cross-references to previously applauded book, Chicago: City on the Make. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sierra Campbell | 12/16/2013

    " Profiling a handful of Chicagoans proves to work wonders with this book. Loved reading about the different insights and struggles many of these people had in order to make it in this city. The last line in the book brings it all together: "this city is real." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hannah | 12/6/2013

    " Interesting look at a few specific neighborhoods in Chicago - none of which I've spent any time in, but still pretty cool. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Meredith | 7/30/2013

    " It is rare that I don't finish a book but I just couldn't slog through it. A dated and cliche view of Chicago's neighborhoods. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy | 7/25/2013

    " A short, interesting read about the character of Chicago, with a smattering of cultural diversity covered in different areas of Chicago. He interviews interesting people and shares their stories. Something about this author that makes for a pleasant read. He seems to genuinely enjoy people. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 4/1/2013

    " A great collage of what Chicagoans are. I plan to re-read, as the writing is great, and the stories are so specific, but so Chicago. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 3/31/2013

    " I've read quite a bit about Chicago, but I learned even more about the city in this brief collection of essays about interesting and mostly not-well-known Chicago characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pete Nickeas | 2/17/2013

    " One of my favorite writers. I think it was this book that made me realize that. A quick, easy read, a series of magazine pieces almost. I read it in two days, didn't take long. Captures a lot of what the city is like too, I think. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 9/30/2012

    " Well-chosen set of neighborhoods (including the suburb of Cicero) as a representation of life in Chicago. I'd say it would be a book better suited for folks at least somewhat familiar with the city (as I am), than those who've never been there looking for background. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Loren Erdrich | 5/25/2012

    " The chicago you will unfortunately never discover on your own. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 William | 1/19/2012

    " A great little book that truly captures the feel of Chicago. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steven | 11/21/2011

    " Alex Kotlowitz talks about eating in Chicago. Seems fitting to me. Actually a really nice book to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caroline | 11/19/2011

    " A quick read about a handful of Chicago neighborhoods and their residents. Kind of romanticizes the city too much. Some of my notions of the city were reinforced, but I was also surprised at times. The section on Cicero was probably the best. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy | 10/23/2011

    " The different stories in this book in no way hang together, and gave me only small glimpses into life in Chicago, but I enjoyed it enough to finish it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deb | 1/7/2011

    " Nice collection of vignettes of diverse Chicagoans. Great author. Comes around Northwestern from time to time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pam | 9/16/2010

    " This is a Crown Journeys book, one in a series of little gems in which great writers share their favorite places. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 6/9/2010

    " Well-chosen set of neighborhoods (including the suburb of Cicero) as a representation of life in Chicago. I'd say it would be a book better suited for folks at least somewhat familiar with the city (as I am), than those who've never been there looking for background. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Josephus | 3/6/2010

    " It was disappointing that this was an abridged audio version, I only saw it on the box once I'd checked it out from the library. Kotlowitz was not a bad reader and I would have happily listened to the whole book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 12/15/2009

    " Chicago has a contemporary voice and he is from New York, go figure. Wait...he now lives in Chicago "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn | 12/3/2009

    " This book was a great snapshot of the city! I am a huge fan of Kotlowitz, so I was really excited to read this book. He did a great job of showing the city through the eyes of those who live here! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 11/11/2009

    " A great collage of what Chicagoans are. I plan to re-read, as the writing is great, and the stories are so specific, but so Chicago. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy | 9/12/2009

    " The different stories in this book in no way hang together, and gave me only small glimpses into life in Chicago, but I enjoyed it enough to finish it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 7/28/2009

    " Love Chicago, love Alex Kotlowitz ... can't wait to move! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 5/31/2009

    " I read this after completing a summer of working "in the field" with kids in the My Chicago program. It was a good snapshot into some key people in certain neighborhoods but I wanted more of a taste of the neighborhood itself. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hannah | 2/15/2009

    " Interesting look at a few specific neighborhoods in Chicago - none of which I've spent any time in, but still pretty cool. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 2/13/2009

    " I loved this book. A quick read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dwayne | 1/5/2009

    " If you've ever lived in Chicago you will love this book. Kotlowitz shows you the real Chicago (even walks down a block that Nicole and I lived for two years when he's talking about the day workers). "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author
Author Alex Kotlowitz

Alex Kotlowitz’s honors include the George Foster Peabody Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the George Polk Award. A former staff writer at the Wall Street Journal, his work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker, as well as on public radio’s This American Life and on PBS’s Frontline. He is also the author of Never a City So Real and The Other Side of the River.

About the Narrator

Scott Brick, actor, narrator, and writer, attended UCLA and spent ten years in a traveling Shakespeare company. Passionate about the spoken word, he has narrated a wide variety of audiobooks, from thrillers and science fiction to classics and nonfiction. He has recorded more than eight hundred audiobooks and won over fifty AudioFile Earphones Awards and several of the prestigious Audie Awards. He was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine and the Voice of Choice for 2016 by Booklist magazine.