Mike Royko wrote a newspaper column in Chicago for thirty-four years. He started at the Daily News, then moved to the Sun-Times when the Daily News shut its doors. In 1984 he left the Sun-Times for the rival Chicago Tribune when the Sun-Times sold to Rupert Murdoch, claiming, “No self-respecting fish would be wrapped in a Murdoch paper.” His column was syndicated to some 600 papers around the country. He won fans, antagonists and awards– including the Pulitzer– for his work.
Royko died in 1997, just five short years after I arrived in Chicago. I remember reading his column when I first moved to town. I also recall never quite understanding his impact. I suspect that may be the deficiency of not growing up in this city. One More Time is a collection of just over 100 of Royko’s best columns. They were selected by his widow, Judy Royko, and several of Mike’s friends. Studs Terkel provided an introduction. Royko’s classic characters like Slats Grobnik live on in this collection; the Billy Goat Tavern is here as Mike remembered it. Some critics have argued Chicago pols get more attention than they perhaps deserve. Royko was an expert at finding universal truths in parochial situations. He could also keenly examine larger issues–war and peace, justice and injustice, wealth and poverty.
One reviewer describes the writer and his posthumous book this way:
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.
That would be me.