Join us for a reading from Chicago Blues by Jeff Stookey, the second book in his Medicine for the Blues trilogy.
Jimmy Harper arrives in Chicago with the Diggs Monroe Jazz Orchestra, seeking fame and fortune. Instead he descends into the jazz underworld where he becomes entangled in dark dealings with a sinister mob boss and in an erotic affair with a black drag performer. In this unfamiliar world, Jimmy begins to question whether he can trust anyone, even his old band members.
The trilogy Medicine for the Blues explores the complexities of gender and sexuality through the historical lens of the early 1920s. Chicago Blues follows Book 1 Acquaintance. Still to come, Book 3 Dangerous Medicine.
“Before opening my drag cabaret in the late 1960s, I owned Portland’s first espresso café. After hours, patrons would fill the basement for a late night jazz experience. If only I had thought to introduce a drag queen jazz singer… Jeff Stookey’s Chicago Blues hits all the right notes!”
—Darcelle XV, Guinness World Record’s “Oldest Working Drag Queen.”
“Eric/Erica’s thoughtful and sensual guidance of Jimmy through the multi-colored experience of underground drag culture left me feeling like Dorothy in Oz. Chicago Blues is accompanied by a melodic score you can feel, at once encouraging and also a bit sad…a finely woven tale of self-discovery and acceptance.”
—Poison Waters/Kevin Cook, Drag Queen Extraordinaire
“Chicago Blues pitches young musician Jimmy Harper from Oregon into the dizzying, dazzling world of brothels and booze, of mobsters, speakeasies, and female impersonators. Stookey tells the story at a jazzy, propulsive pace, capturing the vibrance and danger of Chicago in the 1920s.”
—Alan Rose, host of KLTV’s Book Chat and author of The Unforgiven.
Exploring the lives of gay men in early 20th Century Portland, Jeff Stookey had to see with eyes that were not familiar with a post-Stonewall world. His fictional characters were figuring out homosexuality, just as he had to as a young person, growing up in a small town in rural Washington State. After high school, Jeff went to Occidental College, where he studied literature, history, and cinema. Later he earned a BFA in Theater from Fort Wright College.
In 1991 he retrained in the medical field and worked with pathologists, trauma surgeons, and emergency room reports. This medical background led to the creation of Carl Holman MD. Then a deep dive into gay history and Oregon’s past shaped much of the rest of his Medicine for the Blues trilogy. A novel writing class at The Attic Institute and a year with a creative writing group helped him bring this story out of the closet.
Jeff has lived in Portland, for many years with his longtime partner, Ken, and their unruly garden. Acquaintance and Chicago Blues are his first two novels. Dangerous Medicine, the third part of the trilogy, will come out in November 2018.