Volumes Bookcafe, The Long-Awaited Opening, and Other Bookselling Stories


By Frances Van de Vel The white logo is gleaming proudly on the red brick façade and large windows. On the inside, however, Volumes Bookcafe needs a few finishing touches. The empty shelves – 6,000 pounds in total – are waiting for books, and there are still no lattes or lipstick-stained wine glasses to be […]

Harper Lee (1926-2016): between classic and controversy


By Frances Van de Vel While she seldom spoke in public, her printed words have left a lasting impact. With the passing of Harper Lee on Feb. 19, American literary history has lost one of its 20th century pioneers and the author of the timeless classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Nelle Harper Lee was born […]

Lyric impresses with imperfect yet invigorating production of “Nabucco”


By Frances Van de Vel A lustrous production that dazzled the eye despite uneven vocal performances. That was Lyric Opera of Chicago’s recipe on Feb. 6 for its new-to-Chicago production of Verdi’s biblically inspired “Nabucco.” The opera’s nine-performance run opened at the Civic Opera House on Jan. 23. Lyric debutant Matthew Ozawa directed this modern […]

The Newberry Library digitizes 30,000 French Revolution pamphlets


By Frances Van de Vel “I wait for the head of the murderer Louis XVI.” The accompanying illustration in black ink vividly depicts a guillotine execution and seems delicately faded.  Some creases vein the letters like paper wrinkles, chronicling an aged pamphlet. Yet the force of the message, written in French in ca. 1793, is as […]