In our weekend reading: looking back at the life and work of Binyavanga Wainaina, Casey Cep on her new book, and more.
The other day at the coffee shop, a young woman asked me what I was reading. When I told her it was a new biography of Nelson Algren, she drew a blank. It wasn’t until I mentioned Algren’s long affair with Simone de Beauvoir that her face lit up with recognition. This woman is well-read and has lived in Chicago a few years, but she’d never heard of arguably the city’s greatest chronicler. And she’s not alone. Though Algren won the very first National Book Award in 1950, and was considered a top tier writer for a decade or so thereafter, he’s rarely mentioned in the same breath as Hemingway or Faulkner anymore. I’m hoping that Colin Asher’s definitive portrait of the man might change that.
In our morning reading: “Wuthering Heights” on film, an excerpt from Meredith Alling’s collection, and more.
I go way back with Nelson Algren. Reading his great second novel Never Come Morning in high school in the 80s introduced me to Chicago, the city which I have called home for most of my adult life. He is a writer who is loved fervently by a small cadre of rabid acolytes and largely ignored by the larger culture. The reasons for his abandonment are many. Periodically though, he is rediscovered. The last few years have been such a […]
In which the interviewer becomes the interviewed. Windy City institutions Stop Smiling Magazine, and the late Studs Terkel sat down for a conversation that was included in the “Chicago” issue of the magazine. Topics discussed included; Saul Bellow calling Terkel “a Stalinist”, Terkel’s relationship with Nelson Algren, and then a comparison of Bellow and Algren to each other. It all wraps up nicely with this gem of a quote: “After his death, there was a tribute to Nelson, and someone […]