Sunday, December 02, 2007

Nelson Algren

Nelson Algren wrote: ". . . I was going to write a war novel. But it turned out to be this Golden Arm thing. I mean, the war kind of slipped away, and those people with the hypos came along and that was it."
This suggests that Algren was overcome by his own creation, and I suppose that can happen sometimes, when you create such real gritty characters. This novel, The Man With the Golden Arm, is certainly gritty, and real, and a fascinating read. The characters literally jump out at you from the page and you realize that the author knows these people and has the skill to impart that knowledge. While sometimes both harrowing and grim, the novel grips the reader and does not let him go. My reaction, as it was with Camus' The Stranger, is that this is not a world I would want to live in but it makes me think. If you enjoy this book you might want to explore Never Come Morning and other works by Nelson Algren.

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