1. In what ways is this nonfiction book like a novel? Is it more satisfying to read fiction or nonfiction?
The author takes the facts and then fills them in with emotions and details to make it more storylike. For instance, when he buys the drugstore from Mrs. Holton:
"Holmes entered the store and there found an elderly woman named Mrs. Holton. He sensed vulnerability, sensed it the way another man might capture the trace of a woman's perfume. . . He spoke softly, smiled often, and held her in his frank blue gaze. . . "
For me, reading fiction or non-fiction satisfies different needs. I tend to swing from one to the other. I do find fiction easier to read, and with non-fiction I have to concentrate more and I do more rereading of passages, but I love to learn new things and so it's worth it.
2. What have you found out so far about Chicago, the Fair, and the two men: Burnham and Holmes?
The strongest impression I have had so far in the description of Chicago at the time is how relatively safe the world around me is. All the talks of anonymous death, two people killed a day at the city's railroad crossings, heads cut off, carriages careening into crowds, fires killing a dozen people a day and the newspapers saying people were "roasted", all the sickness and murder, etc.--it makes our world look like something from Mary Poppins. We try so much these days to shield our children from viewing too much violence, but in Chicago at the time it was day to day life. It seems like, and maybe I'm wrong, that in today's world, Holmes would have been been arrested for fraud and debt before he even had a chance to build his nightmare mansion.