FORTNIGHT ON MAXWELL STREET: A NOVEL is “true fiction,” a medical student’s trial-by-fire delivering babies in Chicago’s housing projects and tenements in the early spring of 1968. It is a tale of fear and courage, choice and consequence, set amid extreme poverty and racial tension in the days immediately preceding and following the assassination of Martin Luther King. It will be published in early 2018.
Read the prologue:
By the time they got there, the Chicago Maternity Center had been delivering babies in the bedrooms, dining rooms, and kitchens of the poorest people in town for three quarters of a century. They were the Northwestern seniors. Mostly white and male and prosperous, they said farewell to medical student life as they knew it, and went, five or six fledglings at a time, to live and learn, round the clock for a fortnight, amid the black and brown underclass of the inner-city.
It was late winter of 1968, in the narrow crease between the Tet offensive and LBJ’s announcement that “I shall not seek, and I will not accept” renomination for the presidency. It was a week before the King assassination, when buildings would burn and National Guard tanks would roll past the front door of their temporary home. Nick was three months from entering the Army Medical Corps and three miles from Grant Park, the site of the Democratic Convention melee that coming summer, where heads would crack and blood would spill in a coalescence of rage over Vietnam and Martin and Bobby. Into that tinderbox, he came to learn a little ghetto obstetrics, home deliveries in the housing projects and slum tenements of Chicago. It was enlightening, it was terrifying, it would change his life.