May 15, 2023

12 Chicago Cabbies is more aptly a collection of short stories than a zine, though aesthetically it walks the line. Staple-bound with a blue cardstock cover but larger than your typical lit zine, it’s quite handsome. The writing is, however, the star here. Heine has since published a full-length book which I can recommend checking out even after reading only the stories collected in this slimmer volume. The first half is made up of the titular piece, “12 Chicago Cabbies,” which is exactly what it purports to be and so much more. As twelve more or less short character sketches of Chicago cabbies, it both captures these workers in their conditions and manages to paint a compelling portrait of the city at its best and worst. Deeply human, Heine has an eye for the everyperson in every person, and refuses to pass judgment—as a writer, that is. This piece also makes one wonder about the state of the cabbie in the age of Uber, something that seems to have just been emerging at the time this piece was written (or the experiences therein were had). The second half is composed of vocation-unrelated but thematically linked character sketches, vignettes, and poems—similarly poignant without being overbearing, gritty without being played-out or showoffy—as works. These stories swell with city life in unadorned, frank prose, hitting a sleek sweet spot so often missed by works purporting to be “streetwise.” Heine is a writer worth keeping an eye on, especially for those who call the Chicago area home in any sense of the word. However, it seems most of the copies of this have sold, and one must inquire with the publisher for any remaining. –jimmy cooper ([email protected], newington.blue/shop)