From time to time, someone e-mails me asking if, besides those in the eight books of collections, there is any way to get ALL of Dad’s columns. That would span 34 years and more than 7500 columns. The only way I know of would be to go to a place like Harold Washington Library, which is one of the few places I know of that has all three newspapers Dad wrote for in microfilm form -- which would take forever and I highly doubt anyone’s ever done it. That still is the only option for his entire career.
But the situation just got much better. Agate Publishing, a local independent publisher and partner of the Chicago Tribune, has released an eBook collection ($11) of Dad's Tribune years, and it is by far the most comprehensive collection of his work yet issued, in that it is complete within its time frame -- every column he wrote from January 1984 (when he walked across the street to the Tribune) to his final column from March, 1997.
(Besides the two non-column books, Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago , and Royko In Love: Mike's Letters to Carol , the eight "best of" column collections in book form are: Up Against It ; I May Be Wrong, But I Doubt It ; Slats Grobnik and Some Other Friends ; Sez Who? Sez Me ; Like I Was Sayin' ; Dr. Kookie, You're Right ; One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko ; For the Love of Mike: More of the Best of Mike Royko .)
For the Trib, Dad wrote 2696 columns, and they’re all here on 3259 eBook pages (which is one reason you’d never see this on actual paper – can you imagine the cost? It wouldn’t be 11 bucks, that’s for sure). In addition, there is an introduction by John Kass, the extensive Tribune obituary by Jerry Crimmins and Rick Kogan, the Trib’s editorial page tribute, and the memorial columns written by Mary Schmich and Eric Zorn. All the columns appear chronologically, and to be able to search for any word, phrase or name is a huge plus. I am very happy to have this.
One big advantage the Trib has over the Sun Times is that all of the Tribune columns after a certain point are already in their system electronically. For the Sun Times to do a similar, comprehensive collection like this would almost certainly require some serious work to transfer their holdings into electronic form, since his columns for the Chicago Daily News/Sun Times ended in 1983 and stretch back to 1963. Public library microfilm remains the only real option to read his complete work prior to his Trib years.
But having the total output for the final third of Dad’s career available this way is simply a joy, at least for me, and should be for all other serious Royko readers, historians, researchers, Chicago mavens, and youngsters who want to see what the best columnist of the 20th Century did day in and day out, and have a great time in the process.
November 4, 2014