Nelson Algren: a Life On the Wild Side

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9780399134227: Nelson Algren: a Life On the Wild Side

Provides the first biography of the Chicago-born author often compared to Mark Twain and recognized in his time as a voice for the poor and outcast, whose nonconformist lifestyle was mirrored in his art

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From Publishers Weekly:

This is the first full-length study of one of the most tragic figures in 20th-century American literature. Algren, Chicagoan to the core, was a deeply committed, passionate writer whose finest work came out of his identification with America's downtrodden, the losers, whores, gamblers and bums with whom he surrounded himself for much of his life. A major figure among the leftist proletarian writers of the '30s and '40s, he watched in dismay as America changed to a conformist, timid country where he no longer felt at home; and he ended his life recycling material from his glory days, scrambling after magazine assignments and quarreling over dramatic rights and anthologies. Drew, who teaches at City College of New York, is in thorough sympathy with her ornery subject. She writes of him with compassion, understanding and a keen sense of the all-important social context of his writing--and, most important, makes you want to read the best of Algren again, instead of watching the inferior movies made from his work. The decline and death of a valuable native literary movement were encapsulated in Algren's life, and Drew has done both man and movement honor.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

This admirably researched presentation of the life and career of the Chicago writer most widely known for his 1949 novel, The Man with the Golden Arm , and his celebrated romance with Simone de Beauvoir, is fluidly narrated, closely detailed, and warmly sympathetic. Without glossing over Algren's severe character flaws (he was a liar, an addicted gambler, and an almost-principled abuser of bourgeois proprieties), Drew portrays Algren as a kind of populist of the demimonde, almost an urban counterpart to John Steinbeck--with less sentimentality, less self-discipline, and more humor than the latter. Drew argues persuasively that Algren's current lack of reputation is as much a result of the politically conservative shift in the Fifties and Sixties by the literary establishment as of Algren's seeming fecklessness. If the time is ripe for a revaluation of Algren's talents and achievements, this biography will doubtless play a pivotal role.
- Earl Rovit, City Coll ., CUNY
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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