In humiliation and degradation is to be found truth: American writers are losers

Friday February 03rd 2006, 4:11 pm

Telegraph | Arts | Prophet of the neon wilderness

Nelson Algren’s 1956 novel A Walk on the Wild Side made a mockery of the American dream. Set among the pimps, whores and con men of New Orleans, it was a brave - and prescient - exposé of the nation’s contempt for its own people, says Richard Flanagan.

Nelson Algren’s own irreparably American life tends to read like a novel by Nelson Algren. Compounding the impossible wrath of the gods was the impossible nature of the man born Nelson Algren Abraham in Detroit, 1909.

“A man who won’t demean himself for a dollar is a phoney to my way of thinking,” Algren wrote in a letter in late middle age, an opinion consistent with the young Algren’s conviction, taken from Whitman, that he belonged with the “convicts and prostitutes”, believing that in humiliation and degradation was to be found truth. The truth mattered to Algren, but it didn’t help.

“Thinking of Melville,” wrote Algren at the height of his success, “thinking of Poe, thinking of Mark Twain and Vachel Lindsay, thinking of Jack London and Tom Wolfe, one begins to feel there is almost no way of becoming a creative writer in America without being a loser.”

Subjects: ,

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Who is Eric Rosenfield?
What is Wet Asphalt?
What is The Book: A Novel?
My Notebook
My Resume
My Mailing List
Subscription Feed RSS
Add to Live Journal
The Master Page
Subscription Feed The Master Feed

What I'm Looking At
  • No links

February 2006
« Jan   Mar »



Currently Reading
erosenfield's photos More of erosenfield's photos 1.0
(Dec 31st, 2000 - Jul 16th, 2002) 2.0
(Dec 24th, 2002 - Jul 21st, 2005) version 3.0. Content copyright © Eric Rosenfield under a Creative Commons license except where otherwise noted, or material quoted from other sources under "fair use".
Design and programming by Eric Rosenfield, modified from the Conestoga Street Wordpress Theme by Theron Parlin. Glasses and portrait photos by Philip Sheridan.
Powered by WordPress

Creative Commons License