The Neon Wilderness

The Neon WildernessAlgren S Short Stories Are Now Generally Acknowledged To Be Literary Triumphs The New York Times Nelson S Stories Are Part Of Our Lasting Literature They Don T Fade Away Studs Terkel, From The Afterword Once I Have Been Impressed By Algren S Talent, His Probity And His Command Of A Tough Language That He Transforms Into A Raw And Bleeding Poetry Malcolm Cowley In The Nation Since The Publication On The Neon Wilderness Nelson Algren Has Been Acknowledged As A Master Of That American Realism Touched With Poetry, Which Attempts To Give Voice To The Insulted And Injured He Is A Philosopher Of Deprivation, A Moral Force Of Considerable Dimensions And A Wonderful User Of The Language Donald Barthelme Mr Algren, Boy You Are Good One Of The Two Best Authors In America Ernest Hemingway

Born of Swedish immigrant parents, Nelson Ahlgren Abraham moved at an early age from Detroit to Chicago At Illinois University he studied journalism His experiences as a migrant worker during the Depression provided the material for his first novel Somebody in Boots 1935 Throughout his life Algren identified with the American underdog From 1936 to 1940 the highpoint of left wing ideas on

[Reading] ➷ The Neon Wilderness Author Nelson Algren –
  • Paperback
  • 308 pages
  • The Neon Wilderness
  • Nelson Algren
  • English
  • 14 October 2018
  • 9781583225509

10 thoughts on “The Neon Wilderness

  1. says:

    Why isn t Nelson Algren popular Why don t the Bukowski Fante etc acolytes include Algren in their pantheon Is he too associated with Chicago Too humble Too terrifying Not romantic enough I don t know, but Nelson Algren is fucking awesome, and the short story collection The Neon Wilderness is arguably his best work.Full disclosure I grew up in Chicago, and civic pride is a factor in my Algren fandom I also recognize both the feel and neighborhoods Algren describes, although the latter have changed and the former grows harder to trace every year Algren s work, however, would most likely attract me, anyway, I believe He balances compassion with stark realism in a way that gives life rather than deadens and stultifies For example, in the leadoff story, The Captain Has Bad Dreams , a brilliant, shadowy roll call of the night court s denizens, Algren frames each dismal, crooked suspect in a tragic light without sugaring on the sympathy These characters both know what they re doing and engage in complex self delusion They live in a city where the unwritten rules pile against them and the consequences of bad decisions shatter years They want to trust someone but know than not, trust is a sucker s bet Algren s blending of the gray, urban setting with the characters internal lives is virtuoso work Not a story in The Neon Wilderness disappoints Algren deserves rediscovery Start with this book.

  2. says:

    This was the true jungle, the neon wilderness Sometimes, the dull red lights, off and on, off and on, made the spilled beer along the floor appear like darkly flowing blood Sometimes the big juke sang If you only have time to read one Algren book and want to understand him, then The Neon Wilderness is the book for you Using his blunt style of writing, Algren vividly describes the struggles of drug dealers, hustlers and hookers during 1940 s Chicago The people who saw the American dream as a pure illusion Surviving in a world of crime by crime, yet they re always the ones who get punished, always the biggest losers of the game A shared feeling of humanity grows into the reader, that in the end, you care for every single character The Captain Has Bad Dreams, a story of a captain overseeing sentencing of criminals, is one of my favorite stories Despite Algren showing the poor as mean and stupid , without sentimentalizing them, he delves into their unique human spirit, allowing the reader to feel compassion for them As an important predecessor to the Beat Generation, Algren s works should have a place on every dissident s bookshelf.

  3. says:

    Hemingway once said, Mr Algren, boy, you are really good Many writers throughout the latter part of the century owe a lot to Nelson Algren He s often very sadly overlooked Algren is probably most known for Walk on the Wildside, but for anyone who is discovering him for the first time, I would highly suggest The Neon Wilderness It s stripped down 20th century prose at its best Not to mention, the characters in these stories are all too real, but at the same time, strikingly unique particularly Railroad Shorty, a character from The Face at the Barroom Floor Railroad Shorty is a wheelchair bound paraplegic that you feel absolutely no sympathy for Just read the story and you ll find out why

  4. says:

    I took my time with this book, as I try to do with all single author short story collections when I read them too quickly, the style can get stale fast But I took even time with this one than usual, starting it over a year ago, and only picking it up now and then until this week, when I finally decided to clear it from my currently reading shelf I wish I could say that I liked the book, but looking back over the titles and the first few sentences of some of the stories I d read a few months ago, I realized that I couldn t remember anything about them at all about all I could come up with was that Algren generally writes about the down and out, small time criminals, and characters stuck in dead end lives He also wrote in what I ve heard described as eye dialect , which attempts to mimic the reality of his character s speech, but which I find extremely irritating That probably wouldn t matter as much if the stories had been affecting A lot of folks like Algren, or at least used to like him, but there s something about his way of writing that seems pretentious to me, as if, through all the slang and tough guy talk, he s presenting these portraits from an elevated view in order to teach us lessons I don t know there just seems to be a false element somewhere here, though it s hard to put my finger on I do know that I had that feeling from the very beginning another reason why it took me so long to finish the collection It s rare that I finish a book of short stories and am unable to point to at least one story that I remember, one that really stood out, even years later I m going to abstain from rating this collection, because I have such a poor memory of it, but perhaps the idea that I can t think of a single memorable thing from the book says something about it just as effectively as any rating.

  5. says:

    While not every story is perfect, there are enough emotional wallops in this collection to put it into the classics category Wow Algren has just about supplanted Hubert Selby jr as my favorite writer of the suffering and anguish of the soul of the United States of America At any rate they are peers, the poet s of the U.S.A s downtrodden, those too weak to scale the ladder of success, those born on the wrong side of the tracks, and those with just plain bad luck everyone who finds themselves clinging to the underside of the sham we call the American dream in barrooms, jails, boxing rings, seedy hotels, or just plain out on the streets.The only other Algren I d previously read was Man with the Golden Arm I have to say that while I generally prefer novels, I think I enjoyed these stories than that novel for their diversity getting out of Chicago some, and the war experience stories made for a slightly engrossing read Therefore I d definitely recommend The Neon Wilderness for newcomers to Algren s work The first story here was also largely repeated in Man with the Golden Arm so I assume Algren wasn t above cannibalizing his stories in longer projects Therefore I m imaging there might be a little bit of the author s other novels sprinkled in here somewhere This makes me want to seek them out asap.

  6. says:

    A very good selection of short stories by Nelson Algren, a man who s writing has all but disappeared from both the popular and critical stage My favorite story in this collection is A Bottle of Milk for Mother, which I would like to someday make a film of I feel that this story is the most poignant of the collection, though they all provide different perspectives on the poor, down and outs who missed the American Dream An important predecesor to the Beat Generation, Algren s works should have aplace on every Beat and dissident entheusiast s bookshelf.

  7. says:

    My favourite part was the dedication For my mother and the memory of my father And the introduction To revisit the heroes, he couldn t boogie woogie worth a damn, poor man s pennies, he swung and he missed, el presidente de mejico, kingdom city to cairo, per venceremos, no man s laughter

  8. says:

    This book really packs a punch Incredibly raw tales about the strung out, the no hopers, the vagabonds and the forgotten.Do yourself a favour There s nobody quite like Algren.

  9. says:

    This book is too fucking beautiful for words to describe.

  10. says:

    I m about half way through this collection and I m struck by the inconsistent quality of the stories Some are wonderful, feeling at times like an odd cocktail of Mailer, Kerouac and Carver But some are soaked in slang there s nothing tiresome than the hipster slang of a bygone age , and have an overriding and questionable need to document but certainly empathize with the underclass which feels like pandering, or a writers idea of what a great American writer should be doing By underclass i mean the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, and the seedier side of life, and its this attempt to encapsulate something he doesn t fully understand or is unable to properly capture that remind me of Kerouac, like Kerouac trying to do Steinbeck This is where this collection comes unstuck These stories are populated by a predictable cast of characters soldiers, sailors, prostitutes, drifters, low level boxers, con artists, etc, you can imagine Marlon Brando playing any of these characters in a 50 s black white movie This kind of thing has been documented so much better, and so much authentically, by many writers, and it is not Algren s forte The good stories on the other hand its about 50 50 are great, they are subtle and quiet, and revolve around small moments, in contrast to the foregoing, and this book is worth reading for them Its obvious to me now why Nelson Algren isn t as well known a name as the plaudits reprinted on the books cover suggest he should be Well, I d never heard of him before stumbling across this paperback.

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