Chicago writer Patrick T. Reardon is one of those stylists who can’t answer a simple Q&A for the Writers-World Series. He has to turn it into a feature story. And when you read the list of books under his belt, who’s to argue with success? Here’s a little introduction to the work of “Sparky” Reardon. His talents are more numerous than his monikers.
Name: Patrick T. Reardon, aka the Paulina Palooka, the Billikin Bomber, the Count of Clout, and Sparky.
Home team: Chicago
Position: Utility writer — historian, poet, literary critic, essayist, novelist, reporter, theologian, book reviewer.
Batting average: The Loop: The “L” tracks that shaped and saved Chicago (forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Pres Requiem for David (Silver Birch Press) , Faith Stripped to Its Essence: A Discordant Pilgrimage through Shusaku Endo’s ‘Silence’ (ACTA) DailyMeditations (with Scripture) for Busy Dads (ACTA), Woven Lives: 100years in the story of the St. Gertrude faith family (St. Gertrude), Edith Wharton:Illuminated by ‘The Message’ (ACTA), Starting Out: Reflections for Young People (ACTA) Catholic and Starting Out: Five Challenges and Five Opportunities (ACTA) Love NeverFails: Spiritual Reflections for Dads of All Ages (ACTA)
Throughout a long career, “Sparky” Reardon has demonstrated the ability to play virtually every position on the field, including editor-manager, and produce a high wins-above-replacement figure.
The Count of Clout spent more than 30 years in the Journalism League, nabbing several Peter Lisagor Awards for investigative writing and art criticism and several nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. In fact, in 2001, he was a member of the Chicago Tribune team that took home the Pulitzer for explanatory journalism.
In the Author League, the Billikin Bomber published Requiem for David, a book of poems that focused on his childhood and the suicide of his brother. He has authored several meditation books, and an in-depth literary-theological study of Shusaku Endo’s famed novel Silence.As an essayist, he has hit home runs for Crain’s Chicago Business, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribuneand National Catholic Reporter, as well as Reality in Ireland.
Interviewed recently after an exhaustive session of revising his long poem “The lost tribes,” to appear in June in Under a Warm Green Linden, the Paulina Palooka was asked if he’d prefer playing every day at the same position, such as historian or essayist.
“Not really,” he responded wiping the sweat from his face. “I enjoy the challenge of playing all these different positions, and I think, in a real way, I bring the skills of all the other ones to any position I’m playing. For instance, there’s an element of poetry in my writing of history, and almost a conversation between my essays and my poems. And meditations? They’re basically a hybrid of poems and essays.”
The free agent market has been good to Sparky, landing him a contract with Southern Illinois University Press for his groundbreaking book about the impact of the elevated Loop on the fortunes of Chicago. He also has several smaller manuscripts under consideration from publishers, including a novella.
“I love being on the same playing field as my present-day heroes, Robert Caro, William Cronon and Haki Madhubuti, all of whom I’ve had the chance to meet and get to know,” Sparky said.
“And just the history! Taking the field in the same stadiums as Slammin’ Saul Bellow, Edie Wharton, Mark-the-Shark Twain and Wild Bill Shakespeare — well, who could ask for more?”