Honoring Gene Wolfe

©2012 Madeline Carol Matz. All rights reserved. mcmatz.com

On March 17, 2012, family and friends of Gene Wolfe gathered at the Sanfilippo Estate in Barrington Hills as the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame honored him with the first “Fuller Award” acknowledging an outstanding lifetime contribution to literature.

Teri Goulding pins the boutonnière on her father, Gene Wolfe. (Photo by Carl Hertz)

The evening began with a tour of all house galleries and exhibits, as members of the Chicago theater ensemble Terra Mysterium interacted with guests as characters from Gene’s stories.

Gary K. Wolfe (Photo by 8 Eyes Photography)

Following the tour, guests entered the music salon for the formal portion of the evening with Master of Ceremonies, Gary K. Wolfe, Professor of Humanities and English at Roosevelt University and award-winning editor and critic.

Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe (Photo by 8 Eyes Photography)

Special Guest Neil Gaiman read from Gene’s work and presented Gene Wolfe with the Fuller Award.

Gene Wolfe (Photo by 8 Eyes Photography)

Following Gene’s acceptance speech, members of Chicago’s Terra Mysterium perform an audio play of one Gene’s short stories, The Toy Theater, adapted by Chicago writer Larry Santoro.

The Toy Theater, performed by Terra Mysterium (Photo by 8 Eyes Photography)

After the reading, guests were treated to a concert by R. Jelani Eddington, one of the world’s most accomplished pipe organists on Sanfilippo’s 80-rank, 8,000 pipe organ.

Kyle Cassidy, Valya Dudycz Lupescu, Trillian Stars, Peter and Beth Sagal, Neil Gaiman, Maria Dahvana Headley (Photo by 8 Eyes Photography)

Those who purchased a Dinner Ticket headed to the Carousel Pavilion following the performance to enjoy a meal featuring delicacies from Barrington’s own chef Jeramie Campana of Wild Asparagus.

The Carousel Pavilion (Photo by 8 Eyes Photography)

Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s news quiz show ‘Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” was the toastmaster during dinner, introducing Special Guests with his imaginative wit (creating fictional biographical anecdotes for each presenter) as they offered up speeches and toasts in honor of Gene Wolfe.

Peter Sagal (Photo by 8 Eyes Photography)

Special guests included: Gene’s daughter Teri Goulding, Michael Dirda, Michael Swanwick, Peter Straub Jody Lynn NyePatrick O’Leary, David G. HartwellAudrey Niffenegger, Bill FawcettKyle CassidySam Weller, and Jennifer Stevenson. The luminaries paid tribute to the writer whose body of work, including the Chicago-set Free Live Free, distinguishes him as one of our city’s finest literary treasures.

Therese Goulding (Photo by 8 Eyes Photography)

At dinner, each guest was given a copy of A Walking Tour of the Shambles (Little Walks For Sightseers #16) (American Fantasy Press, 2002), written and signed by both by Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe. Perhaps the most memorable part of the evening was the surprise carousel rides. Patrons cheered when the announcement was made. The joy was infectious:

Michael Dirda (Photo by 8 Eyes Photography)

Gene Wolfe and Rebecca Bushong-Taylor (Photo by 8 Eyes Photography)

The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame  would like to thank everyone who helped to make it such an unforgettable event. Patrons honored one of Chicago’s most outstanding writers and supported the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, whose mission is to promote and celebrate Chicago’s rich and proud literary tradition. To learn more about the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, visit their website.

For information about the event, contact: Valya Dudycz Lupescu (valyadl@gmail.com).