Hidden Hemingway: Inside the Ernest Hemingway Archives of Oak Park

Ernest Hemingway, scholars says, kept every scrap of paper he ever touched. Hidden Hemingway, then,  is a time capsule, a biography through the objects and ephemera. Thoroughly researched, and illustrated with more than 300 color images, this book includes never-before-published photos; love letters; bullfighting memorabilia; high school assignments; adolescent diaries; Hemingway’s earliest published work; and even a dental X-ray. Some of what we found contradicted the public image Hemingway built for himself, while some of it supports his larger-than-life myth. In all, we hoped not only to provide insight, but also to make Hemingway human again.
The Best Film You’ve Never Seen

The Best Film You’ve Never Seen is an attempt to rewrite film history. In this book, 35 directors champion their favorite overlooked or critically-savaged gems. Director Bill Condon (Twilight: Breaking Dawn) calls these “orphan films,” though I prefer “outcast classics.” Roger Ebert wrote:“How necessary this book is! And how well judged and written! Some of the best films ever made, as Elder proves, are lamentably all but unknown.” Visit the official website:

Kesey3 Conversations with Ken Kesey

This is a photo of author Ken Kesey that Dawn Stief took when we interviewed him in Billings, Montana in 1993. Now, it’s a cover of a new book edited by Scott F. Parker. Published here: My final long form conversation with Kesey on his farm. During that visit, the original Merry Prankster and author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” told me he was “too young to be a beatnik and too old to be a hippie.”
desplaines Des Plaines River Anthology

Augie Aleksy, owner of Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Forest Park, asked me to contribute to this collection about those buried in our nearby communities. My chapters include Hollywood mogul Michael Todd (third husband of Elizabeth Taylor) and Smiley, a clown who died in 1918’s Hagenbeck-Wallace circus train wreck — along with 85 of his fellow performers. This project was inspired by Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology.


It Was Love When…Tales from the Beginning of Love

He told me I was a penguin: “tiny, adorable, and loved by everyone.” Right then, right that instant, you know it’s love. It may be after three days together, or after three months—it’s that moment when it all falls together. Both addictive and heartwarming, It Was Love When…is a freeze frame of that moment when you realize that you’re truly, completely in love. Check out the official website at and share your story.
Over When Book Cover It Was Over When…Tales of Romantic Dead Ends

It Was Over When is dedicated to cataloging the exact moment when you realize a relationship isn’t going to work. This could be years into a romance, on the first date or even before the first date. These stories can be funny, poignant, abysmally sad and universal. The aim: To provide a bit of comfort, humor and, hopefully, healing identification. Check out the official website at and share your story.
Book cover photo The Film That Changed My Life

Thirty directors on their epiphanies in the dark. Everyone from Danny Boyle and Michel Gondry to Peter Bogdanovich and Kimberly Peirce talk to me about the film that made them want to become a movie director. From A Capella, an imprint of Chicago Review Press. Leonard Maltin wrote: “If you love films and care about filmmakers, you’ll have a hard time putting this book down.” Official site:
Book cover photo Last Words of the Executed

With an introduction by Studs Terkel, who calls Elder “a journalist in the noblest tradition” in this oral history of capital punishment in the United States. Though not a political book, it asks: If these are the most reviled, outcast members of society—why does it remain a cultural value to record what they say? Website:
Time Out Chicago Update

Time Out Chicago

The nice folks at Time Out commissioned me to write the “Chicago Today” chapter. It’s the entry with the Obama picture.

Book cover photo

The Neil Gaiman Reader

Darrell Schweitzer’s critical look at author Neil Gamain’s legacy includes two lengthy interviews, including a never-before-published conversation Neil and I had in 1995. Gaiman’s works include the Hugo Award-winning novel “American Gods” and DC Comics’ acclaimed series “The Sandman.”