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Nelson Algren (1909–1981)

Autor(a) de The Man with the Golden Arm

30+ Works 3,085 Membros 45 Críticas 23 Favorited

About the Author

Nelson Algren was a writer, novelist, columnist, and educator. He was born Nelson Algren Abraham on March 28, 1909 in Detroit, Michigan. Algren graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism in 1931. After graduation, Algren worked as a door-to-door salesman and a migratory mostrar mais worker. He also worked for a venereal disease control unit of the Board of Health and with the WPA writers' project. Algren served as a medical corpsman in the U.S. Army during World War II. Later, he served as co-editor of the magazine The New Anvil. Algren taught creative writing at the University of Iowa and the University of Florida. He also wrote a regular column for the Chicago Free Press. Algren's first novel, Somebody in Boots, was published in 1935. His second novel, Never Come Morning, was published in 1942. The book was banned from the Chicago Public Library. Algren received a 1947 Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a grant from Chicago's Newberry Library. In 1949, Algren published The Man with the Golden Arm. The book won the National Book Award and was adapted as a film in 1956. Another book, A Walk on the Wild Side, was also adapted for film in 1962. Algren died in Sag Harbor, New York, on May 9, 1981. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos

Obras por Nelson Algren

The Man with the Golden Arm (1949) 657 exemplares
A Walk on the Wild Side (1956) 639 exemplares
Chicago: City on the Make (1951) 277 exemplares
The Neon Wilderness (1947) 263 exemplares
Never come morning (1941) 193 exemplares
Nonconformity: Writing on Writing (1996) 119 exemplares
Somebody in Boots (1935) 95 exemplares
The Devil's Stocking (1982) 62 exemplares
The Last Carousel (1973) 57 exemplares

Associated Works

Fahrenheit 451 (1953) — Posfácio, algumas edições54,179 exemplares
Short Story Masterpieces (1954) — Contribuidor — 683 exemplares
Baseball: A Literary Anthology (2002) — Contribuidor — 337 exemplares
75 Short Masterpieces: Stories from the World's Literature (1961) — Contribuidor — 298 exemplares
Granta 108: Chicago (2009) — Contribuidor — 142 exemplares
The Man with the Golden Arm [1955 film] (1955) — Autor — 89 exemplares
Great Esquire Fiction (1983) — Contribuidor — 70 exemplares
Chicago Noir: The Classics (2015) — Contribuidor — 52 exemplares
Erik Dorn (1921) — Introdução, algumas edições37 exemplares
American short stories, 1820 to the present (1952) — Contribuidor — 26 exemplares
The Bedside Playboy (1963) — Contribuidor — 24 exemplares
Uomini che non ho sposato (2016) — Contribuidor — 15 exemplares
Walk on the Wild Side [1962 film] (1962) — Original book — 14 exemplares
The Best American Short Stories 1945 (1945) — Contribuidor — 12 exemplares
The Playboy Book of Short Stories (1995) — Contribuidor — 11 exemplares
The Penguin New Writing No. 36 (1949) — Contribuidor — 11 exemplares
On the job: Fiction about work by contemporary American writers (1977) — Contribuidor — 10 exemplares
The best of the Best American short stories, 1915-1950 (1975) — Contribuidor — 10 exemplares
Best modern short stories (1965) — Contribuidor — 8 exemplares
Great Tales of City Dwellers (1955) — Contribuidor — 8 exemplares
The Penguin New Writing No. 35 (1948) — Contribuidor — 7 exemplares
The Best American Short Stories 1957 (1957) — Contribuidor — 7 exemplares
The Stakes are High (1954) — Contribuidor — 5 exemplares
Stories of Scarlet Women (1962) — Contribuidor — 5 exemplares
Law & Disorder: The Chicago Convention and Its Aftermath (1968) — Contribuidor — 4 exemplares
Best crime stories. 4 (1971) — Contribuidor — 4 exemplares
The Best American Short Stories 1942 (1942) — Contribuidor — 4 exemplares
O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1935 — Contribuidor — 2 exemplares
The Ethnic Image in Modern American Literature, 1900-1950 (1984) — Contribuidor — 1 exemplar
Juvenile Delinquency in Literature (1980) — Contribuidor — 1 exemplar


Conhecimento Comum



As much praise as this book gets I must say I was extremely disappointed in how bogged down in the 1910-1950 period it is in terms of evaluating Chicago. Beyond that, it only really elucidates the grievances of the Debs faction of striking industrial workers. The plight of blacks in the city gets mentioned but not with the repetitive prominence. Even if it had, this would still be an odd and ultimately pretentious effort to get at what Chicago is, was, and could be. Fortunately can be read quickly and almost as quickly forgotten.… (mais)
JohnLocke84 | 2 outras críticas | Apr 10, 2024 |
My reading preferences seem to have changed since I first attempted this book. I remember being underwhelmed by The Man With the Golden Arm, putting it down maybe fifty pages in wondering what was so great about it that it merited a National Book Award (which I put a lot more stock in than the Pulitzer).

Maybe I set it aside because the dialogue is phonetically spelled to portray dialect (which feels outdated, stylistically) and at times the novel reads more like a beat poem. It can also be as frustratingly incomprehensible as Naked Lunch when it narrates the action from the perspective of its drug-addled protagonist. Working through these challenges reveals the sad but engaging story of WWII veteran Frank Majcinek, better known as Frankie Machine, a card-dealing morphine addict struggling to get clean and find honest work in post-war Chicago. Frankie's life is a mélange of disreputable characters stumbling their way through petty crimes, police encounters and piteous relationships with low class people whose moral compasses similarly don't point north. As the novel progresses, the train wreck which will alter the lives of most of these characters becomes inevitable, but as a reader you just can't look away.

The Man With the Golden Arm provides a realistic glimpse of the seedy side of life without judging those caught up in it.
… (mais)
skavlanj | 5 outras críticas | Jan 2, 2024 |
Published in 1951 this is a prose poem of 12000 words taking the city of Chicago as its subject. A city where the dollar has always been king and Algren's portrait of his hometown did not go down well with critics and editors. Times have changed and the initial scorn for the essay has now turned to something like admiration. Algren who grew up in a working class area of the city has an eye for the piquant: he tells of the colourful characters of its early history, the more notorious the better, he admires the energy, but decries the lack of humanity and culture. In his view Chicago is a city that seems to have gone backwards.

Chicago has progressed culturally from being the second city to being the second hand city

This is not the story of a city, you will not learn much of its history; it is a gaze and insiders gaze on what made the city that you would have found in 1951. Images and events run pell mell through its paragraphs, we learn of some infamous politicians, social climbers, hustlers of course, jazz musicians and baseball personalities, Hinky Dink Kempa and Bath House John from the early days and the working people of the city. It is best explained in Algrens own words:

'As well as the old soaks goats parts, backstreet brothels, unlit alleys and basement bars; for tavern traps and tenements, for all the pool room tigers in chequered caps, who've never seen a cow, and all the night club kittens who've never seen a cloud
For white lit show ups, dim lit lock ups, and the half lit hallway bedrooms, where the air along with the bed is stirred only by the passing of the Jackson Park express. For all our white walled asylums and all our dark walled courtrooms, overheated district stations, and disinfected charity wards, where the sunlight is always soiled and there are no holiday hours.
For hospitals, brothels prisons and such hells, where patronage comes up softly like a flower
For all the collerless wanderers of the horse and wagon alleys of home.

This sort of writing reminds me of the beat poets; Ginsburg Ferlinghetti perhaps. It is a roller coaster from start to finish;

Chicago isn't so much a city as it is a drafty hustlers junction in which to hustle awhile and move on out of the draft.

But Algren still claims to love his hometown, he certainly loves the White Socks baseball team, even though they were accused of accepting bribes to throw a world series, just par for the course in this city. but he say that once you become a part of this patch you will never love another.

I read the 1961 reprint in which Algren adds a long after word. He feels a need to make clear his views on racism and sexism in the city and also reflect a little on his essay that had upset so many important people in his hometown. It is certainly not a flattering portrait, but it is so full of life and energy that it almost tumbles off the pages. I thought it was excellent, but then I have never been to Chicago. 4 stars.
… (mais)
1 vote
baswood | 2 outras críticas | Apr 10, 2023 |
4.5 stars
Ay chihuahua, this was a hard book to read, because it's about the so-called low life of North Chicago in the 1930s.

Bruno and two of his chums steal a slot machine out of a roadhouse, falsely thinking that it's not registered with the syndicate:
"Embracing the machine with both hands, then bending it back on its single leg, he brought it off the floor, bringing part of the floor with it, and stumbled backward holding it. He packed it under his arm and Casey gave him interference toward the door. The woman was through the door before them both come holding her apron to her bleeding mouth and wailing. Bruno saw Casey reach her, pin her arms, and hold her at the door while Bruno got through it with the machine galloping heavily toward the car he heard it a sort of sickening splash, I still Casey had given it to her in the gut, and the fall of her body and the slam of the door. The attendance did rigidly come a pale intense, against the pump where finger had put him."
Algren has created the most cowardly, savage characters.

Steffi is Bruno's girlfriend. Her mom, the widow, owns the pool hall. Steffi really loves Bruno but he's a cowardly weak boy, who isn't good enough for her.
" 'let her alone, fellas,' he urged weakly.'
'Have a shot, Lefthander,' Catfoot offered, 'go ahead, keep the bottle, kill it. You're the champ t'night. I knew you was four-square all along. Go ahead, kill it.'
Bruno drank with his back turned to the couple in the corner, feigning not to hear the whimpering protest there. Funny, how a kid like that wouldn't ever bawl outright. And crept up the steps with the bottle in his hand. When he got into the light he saw there wasn't as much left in it as he thought.
He drank beneath the arc lamp, asking himself how soon Benkowski would get him the promised money fight, telling himself he had to figure that out for himself now; but able only to hear Kodedek's fevered breathing below. And Catfoot's noiseless laughter.
KNothole Chmura and John from the Schlitz Joint waited by the warehouse wall: Shadows within shadows. Bruno offered them the bottle and tried to grin. then his heart started sickeningly and turned over: Sheeny Louie, Coast-to-Coast, Punch-Drunk Czwartek, and Corner-Pockets.
'This one's on me, fellas,' Bruno explained, nodding toward the steps to the shed. KNothole went to where the arc lamps stood and got down on all fours to peer through the cracks of the walk.
'lookit ol' Kodadek you. C'mere. Lookit ol' Fireball go.' "
So Bruno allows Steffi to be gang raped by a couple dozen men or more.

Bruno is so drunk he doesn't even realize it when he kills a Greek immigrant that walks up to the waiting queue. Moreover, he and a couple of his Pals roll a drunk, and only meaning to scare him by shooting at HIS feet, the bullet ricochets and kills him. Again, he's so drunk he doesn't realize it.
The cops are looking for him now, and they pick him up. In jail, he has plenty of time for his conscience to awake.
"He could not know that his muffled conscience was crying out for a killing that would have been clear and definite and in the open: if the old man was dead Bicek [Bruno] would be punished, there would be no mercy, there would be no way of getting out of it. Bicek would pay all the rest of his life. And that was what, at heart, he wanted. He wanted it so, because of what he had made of Steffi R. He had snuck off with a bottle in his hand while the one human he loved had been turned into a loveless thing. And there was in his nature, so deep it had never before been sounded, the conviction that no punishment was too great for such a betrayal. Yet there was no way of paying for Steffi. There was no charge against him for that, there was nothing definite he could be accused of by her. She was alive and well, in the way that any woman who worked for the barber [sex worker] was alive and well. So he could not, even to himself, see his guilt clearly toward her."

Bruno is judged guilty and sent to the house of correction, probably a county lockup:
"the cells at the House of Correction had not been cleaned in many years. To the corners of the cots bedbugs clung, one upon the other, whole generations clinging to the backs of the preceding generations while the next generation was being born above them. In clusters. Like grape clusters. In the shadowed corners on the underside of the cots they moved in clusters gently, swayed by an unseen hand.
The place was filled from morning to night with the sounds of human trouble: men moaning in sleep or cursing by day. No one complained about being in on a bum rap: they were all in on a bum rap. That was understood. But all were bitter at having to do their time here rather than in Statesville. There, it was said, the cells were clean and modern and bright, everyone worked, the food was varied and good, there were movies and teams and a chance to buy cigarettes - if one had the money for a pack - without paying a guard twice the package's price for himself."

Meanwhile Steffi is living with the barber by day, and at night stays at the whorehouse across the street:
"... And turned hopelessly toward the barber's room.
Despite the heat of the staircase she felt a chill going up. And when she came to the pavement-colored carpet that led to no. 24 she Drew The frayed coat more tightly about her, fearing anew that he would be home.
He was out, but the room was littered with drying gobs of snuff spittle; the cracks of the floor were stained with the brown and drying remains of bugs exterminated during the day. She left the door ajar while undressing, using the light from the unshaded bulb in the hall to save the barber electricity. It seemed to her, with the naked light on her and the door ajar and the sounds of men at the bar below, that she had done nothing all her 18 years save to undress beneath the unshaded lights of this public place. An uncovered light and an unclosed door had been her life. She had been in a hundred corners with 100 men -- and now -- so soon -- it had all come suddenly to no more than this, on a night toward the end of summer.
Had it been only a year since the night at Riverview [the amusement park that Bruno took her to the night of the]? It seemed like 20. and yet seemed no time at all, but only the natural ending to the same night. Or to any night that begins with light and music.
In bed she watched the thin column of light between hallway and door. The hotel filled slowly with noises and rumors of noises: the tap-tap-tapping of water from a faucet down the hall, then a sudden curving up-wall sweep of a thousand microscopic legs; a civilization of roaches lived in the walls. A woman on the other side of the flimsy partition began turning something slowly in her throat, like a marble of mucus rolling lopsidedly from side to side -- she felt her own breath clogging at the sound and sat upright trying to cough; then lay back swallowing emptiness."

It almost seems like things can come right again for Steffi and Bruno. I least he's going to try:
" 'Don't talk tough, Steff',' he asked, remembering. 'It ain't nice. You ain't that kind.'
she looked at him in genuine amazement. Then she saw that he meant it, that under his pretense of toughness he was still that soft. He looked ready to cry.
Well, she'd wanted to cry too and couldn't. Let him try to get something out of his system like she had in hers. It couldn't be done.
'What do you think I'm doin' these days, talkin' t' me like that?' she asked. 'keepin' track of the towels?'
He gulped. She looked at him sitting there looking so big and foolish.
'Steff' -- i. I'm sorry.'
He would say no more. It had been a struggle to say that much. She looked away to defend herself from his eyes. They were trying to tell her that there was nothing, now, he would not do for her. And his physical presence, the animal smell of him, the full deep breathing of his chest, all reached toward her to plead for her forgiveness. She reached blindly for the bottle thinking, 'he beat me with the bottle once, I'll need it to beat him tonight. He had his way with me once -- I'll have my way this time.' she mustn't believe in him again, she warned herself. 'For my own sake, I mustn't believe in him.'
she no longer cared for what the barber [the pimp] wanted. She wished only to defend herself. He had kicked her into the gutter once, he'd kick her back if she trusted him for a moment. She drank off four fingers, as if it were the last one she'd ever drink. And he took a small one with her.
'You never quit thinkin' you got ever'body in the world on the ropes, do you?' She lashed out at him. 'You think all you have to do is say "sorry" 'n I come runnin' for another beatin'?'
he took her hand without reply and she could not pull it away. She shoved at his shoulders with the other and they resisted her without effort.
'Steff',' he asked, 'don't push me. I feel bad all the time. I want to make up for what I done...'
'don't feel sorry for me, Bunny. That's the worst yet. You give me every kind of beatin' there is in the books, but don't do it that way too. If you think you got somethin' t' make up for, go t' church 'n do it.'
'I didn't mean sorry that way. I meant make it up for both of us. I meant make it like it used to be ... '
He let her hand drop and she smiled up at him, the dry, wry, bitter little smile she had gotten from her contempt of the barber.
'Like it used to be, Bunny? Ain't it a little late?'
she looked at him first with disbelief, then with genuine impatience, half-turning from him. 'What the hell is the use of talking like that? When somethin's done it can't be undone, you can't just fix things by sayin' they didn't happen.' She turned back to him. 'What the hell is the use, Bunny?'
There was no fear of him left in her voice; only the fullness of her desperation at the past was in it.

The characters that Algren created are loathsome, savage, but created with infinite detail and love. To read about them is to almost feel their desperation and the need of living for today, because there may be no tomorrow.

… (mais)
burritapal | 7 outras críticas | Oct 23, 2022 |



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