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Review | Nothin’s on the Square is a story of hope and community in Chicago

By Megan ChristiansenSeptember 7, 2017

Houlihan WGN Radio

You know that tone in Scorsese’s Goodfellas with Ray Liotta recounting the story like you’re just a couple of pals hanging out over a beer? Well, Mike Houlihan, author of the exciting new read, Nothin’s on the Square, channels that style and runs with it. Houlihan (or Houli as he’s referred to in the book), provides an account that captures the brief but intense road of the 2015 mayoral campaign in Chicago. Nothin’s on the Square follows the race between underdog Chuy Garcia and Rahm Emanuel.

While the mayoral campaign in Chicago may not sound like your usual go-to reading topic, Houlihan manages to take this seemingly straightforward topic and bring it to life. From the first few pages, you realize this isn’t going to be one of those dry tell-all political books about predictable moves and the all-too-overplayed games we hear about on the campaign trail. Houlihan’s ability to draw in the reader with his casual narration and plethora of Irish references invites the reader on a boisterous journey. Houlihan pulls back the elusive curtain and reveals the inner-workings of the Chicago mayoral machine, at once providing a detailed, honest account and delivering the required comic relief.


“So we’re giving out attaboys and shaking his hand and I pull out my camera....Chuy has his arms around us and says ‘My Los San Patricios!” It was a cool moment, we felt like we were making history that night in Chicago...together. And we were.”

Houlihan’s disappointment about the results of the election is clear, but there is a glimmer of hope shining through, whether or not that was his intent. The events that take place over those 82 short days in the Windy City unravel quickly and leave the reader hoping for an alternate outcome. Houlihan’s perspective is one of deep care and respect for the city of Chicago, and whether you’re from Chicago or have never been, this book will leave you yearning for justice in the city. The entire book proves to be a hopeful testimony about the future of Chicago politics and the city of Chicago itself.

Mike Houlihan is a prevalent figure in the Irish community in Chicago and has years of creative experience in writing, film and radio. Houlihan is an award-winning writer, actor, producer, director, filmmaker, radio host and journalist. He has written for the Chicago Sun-Times and The Irish American News, as well as contributed to Chicago public radio on WBEZ-FM and co-wrote and starred in film Tapioca. Houlihan created the Irish American Movie Hooley to recognize the top Irish American filmmakers and films today. The 3rd annual festival takes place September 29th-October 1st, 2017 in Chicago. 

Find out more about Nothin's on the Square here and get your own copy here