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ONE MORE TIME by Mike Royko

ONE MORE TIME

The Best of Mike Royko

By Mike Royko

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-226-73071-9
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

An insightful, at times amusing walk through America’s collective psyche and history by one of this century’s most popular newspaper columnists. For nearly 35 years, Royko (Like I Was Sayin’ . . ., 1984, etc.) entertained newspaper readers and alternately cajoled and aggravated bureaucrats. By the time the Chicago-based Pulitzer Prize—winning writer died in 1997, his columns were syndicated in more than 600 papers nationwide, and his “characters” (convenient pals, such as Slats Grobnik, who acted as literary foils) were fixtures in many Americans’ lives. Here his widow and some longtime colleagues have culled 100 of Royko’s best from nearly 8,000 columns. They are remarkable on many levels, not least for his ability to churn out five columns weekly (his only real break came after the death of his first wife). Royko also impresses with the breadth of his work. Sometimes he is the outraged muckraker: “A Faceless Man’s Plea” decries the Veterans Administration for refusing to pay for plastic surgery that would enable a Vietnam veteran to chew food once more. (The VA changed its mind almost within hours of the column appearing in print.) At other times he is the voice of just-plain-folks, questioning exactly why our government is acting in a particular way. Sometimes he’s just funny, as in the columns bemoaning his allegedly ugly feet. A gruff, no-holds-barred writer, Royko spoke for the many who are voiceless. Despite his success and the rise of celebrity journalists, he remained refreshingly unimpressed with himself. “I just hope my next column is readable, doesn’t bore people,— he said in a 1993 interview. —I don’t have any grand scheme.” Yet the continued relevance of these columns reminds us that good journalists can make a difference. A terrific compendium for those who always meant to clip and save Royko’s words but didn’t. (17 photos, not seen)