Stuart Dybek, like most good authors, writes about what he knows. He was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and from this he strongly draws on his memories of his community for inspiration in his writing. Examining Dybek's life can therefore provide insight into his pieces.
Dybek's ethnicity and the demographic of his neighborhood play a major role in The Coast of Chicago. He is ethnically Polish and was largely influenced by his grandmother although he could not speak Polish and she barely spoke English. Dybek says,
"I was madly, madly in love with her. There was just a quality of emotion that didn't require much in the way of language. She just made me feel. She had a tremendous sense of humor, and there was an ancient quality about her odd superstitions, and body language and smells and just everything about her communicated someplace other than America" 
This Polish family influence is clear in his writing. Particularly his story "Chopin in Winter" in which he looks at the growth of a young boy and a grandfather who seem at times to be from different planet but who still share a common bond of music, something that transcends language.
As addressed in Music, music plays an integral role in his short stories. Stuart Dybek's life has also been shaped by music. Dybek has said when reflecting on life, "I played saxophone for seven or eight years, and was in a group somewhat like the group that you read about in Blight-- The No-Names" . This is an example of an time when music influenced Dybek's life that was then directly transfered into one of his short stories. Music also effects his style of writing. "To this day, Dybek relies on music for inspiration, listening to jazz, jotting in a notebook, improvising, not knowing or caring if the lines will beget a poem or a short story or a novella" . Dybek's free form writting appears to be his way of transforming music into his stories, creating a lyricism in Dybek's style that he has become renowned for.
Dybek currently lives in Kalamazoo Michigan with his wife and two children. He teaches at the Western Michigan University and continues to write. It is clear that most of his work is strongly influenced by his younger days as he write almost exclusively about the Southwest side of Chicago. It is clear that Dybek writes about what he knows and loves, this is the reason his short stories are so strong and can have such a wide audience.