Nancy S. Bishop | ATCA member and Chicago girl

Nancy S. Bishop | ATCA member and Chicago girl

Nancy S. Bishop, a Chicago native, arts critic, and ATCA member, and editor-publisher of Third Coast Review, has published Chicago Girl: Essays on the Arts, Politics and Life.

The book is part memoir with one section made up of seven essays about growing up in a far northwest side neighborhood. The other 40 essays are reviews and observations on theater, music, film, books, writing, politics and technology.

Many of the essays are adapted from articles Bishop has written over the last eight years for Third Coast Review, Gapers Block (a longtime Chicago city blog that went on hiatus in 2016), and her personal website. She points out there are anomalies, “such as a timeline of my life in technology, starting with my acquisition of a certain special fountain pen at the age of 12,” and the oldest essay in the book, “The Story of Max: The World’s Greatest Cat” written in 1987. In a long poem titled “City Lady Blues,” Bishop tells us why she never wanted to move to the suburbs, despite the temptations offered by a certain gentleman. “Can’t you see I’m a city lady? Don’t wanna be a country girl.”

Other essays address issues of feminism, such as her political awakening when reading Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, in 1963, and a commentary on a 2014 film titled She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. There’s also a long essay about the significance of the Spanish Civil War as a prequel to World War II and the contemporary culture wars.

Bishop has lived in Chicago for most of her life, growing up in the northwest side Montclare neighborhood. She made occasional and sometimes lengthy forays to Missouri, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Kentucky.

She points out the ironic aspect of the book’s publication is that the pandemic enabled her to finish it. In normal times, she would have been seeing and reviewing three or four plays a week, but that activity was shut down in March. So she decided to focus on finally finishing the book of essays she had “fiddled with” for a few years.

The book cover is a view familiar to Chicagoans. Bishop took the photo from the Chess Pavilion at North Avenue Beach, looking south toward Navy Pier.

Bishop attended UIC for two years and holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri and an M.A. in communications from Northern Illinois University. She worked in corporate marketing for 35 years before retiring.

Chicago Girl is available here and on the publisher’s website. Right now, the print version is available but the e-book will be available soon.

— text lightly edited from press release provided by the author.

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