Sunday Stories: “The Trash Man’s Daughter”

The Trash Man’s Daughter
by Vic Sizemore

She was one grade above Malachi, but two years older. Her name was Lydia Cumba, and in Malachi’s fifth year, she showed him that life was more than toy cars, bicycles, and baseball. Lydia was seven and Malachi five when she tried to teach him about sex. To Malachi, sex was still a strange and forbidden world: his dad was a Fundamentalist Baptist preacher. Malachi heard an older boy at church call another boy a cunt, and carried the word home to use on Matthew—his mom rubbed Ivory soap on his tongue, made him rinse and spit, then did it to him again. His dad would not even use words like panties and boobs unless he was quoting an unsaved person.

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Exploring Nelson Algren’s Literary Legacy: A Review of “Never a Lovely So Real”

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.

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