I think the store opened in 2018. I recall walking by with a friend and making a mental note to come back. I got to know Aaron and Mary soon after. Made some art for them. Even filled in now and then when they needed a break.

A bookstore reflects the personality of its owner. If the owner is a corporation the store will be faceless. That was never a problem at PCB. Every inch reflected Aaron and Mary in one way or another. I was happy to be a small part of it.

Then they opened a second store downtown and I got involved there too. A whole wall full of Chicago writer portraits. More fill-in shifts. A couple book launches.

Then Aaron and Mary decided to get out of the bookstore business and move to michigan to have babies or live in the woods or something. We were never in each other’s lives on a personal level so I don’t know for sure.

They sold both stores and left town. Then the plague came.

The Pilsen store, now run by Katharine and Mandy, fought for life and persevered. Throughout the lockdown, though no one could go inside, it was a hive of activity. I picked up books whenever I could, hoping to do my small part to keep it afloat.

A couple years ago I did a Zoom launch for All Hack through PCB and they’ve always stocked my books. There are remnants of what Aaron and Mary created in the storefront on 18th Street but it’s now a very different store. Katharine and Mandy are fierce advocates of local community causes as well as larger political movements. Their business is a reflection of their beliefs. I’m happy to be friends with people who feel strongly and aren’t shy to say what they mean.

This Wednesday I’ll have a talk with local writer Annie Howard about my new book. I hope to see you there.

—Listen to my talk with Nancy Carey, then come back Wednesday for one with Westley Heine. Mallory and I talk about Bob Balaban’s Parents and there’s a whole article about our podcast/friendship.

—Made a new t-shirt design.