Nelson Algren  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Nelson Algren (March 28, 1909 - May 9, 1981) was an American writer best-known for The Man with the Golden Arm. Algren had a torrid affair with Simone de Beauvoir and they travelled to Latin America together in 1949. In her novel The Mandarins (1957), she wrote of Algren (who is "Lewis Brogan" in the book):

"At first I found it amusing meeting in the flesh that classic American species: self-made leftist writer. Now, I began taking an interest in Brogan. Through his stories, you got the feeling that he claimed no rights to life and that nevertheless he had always had a passionate desire to live. I liked that mixture of modesty and eagerness."


  • Somebody in Boots (1935)
  • Never Come Morning (1942)
  • The Neon Wilderness (1947), a collection of short stories
  • The Man with the Golden Arm (1949), concerns morphine addiction
  • Chicago: City on the Make (1951)
  • A Walk on the Wild Side (1956)
  • Nelson Algren's Own Book of Lonesome Monsters (1962)
  • Who Lost an American? (1963)
  • Conversations with Nelson Algren (1964)
  • Notes from a Sea Diary: Hemingway All the Way (1965)
  • The Last Carousel (1973)
  • The Devil's Stocking (1983)
  • America Eats (1992)
  • He Swung and He Missed (1993)
  • Nonconformity (1994)
  • The Texas Stories of Nelson Algren (1994)

References in popular culture

  • Ernest Hemingway, in his 8 July 1942 letter to Maxwell Perkins, said of "Never Come Morning": "I think it very, very good. It is as fine and good stuff to come our of Chicago...."
  • In the 1957 Jerry Kamstra book The Frisco Kid, Jerry's mentally challenged friend Scott pulls him aside and forces Jerry to promise to him that he will read Nelson Algren because "he is the one American author that hasn't sold out yet, kid."
  • In his 1967 novella, Trout Fishing in America, Richard Brautigan writes about crating up and mailing a crippled wino (Trout Fishing in America Shorty) to Nelson Algren.
  • Leonard Cohen used images from The Man with the Golden Arm in "The Stranger Song," from his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967): "you've seen that man before: his golden arm dispatching cards, but now it's rusted from the elbows to the finger".
  • In the documentary Classic Albums: Lou Reed: Transformer, musician Lou Reed says that Algren's 1956 novel, A Walk on the Wild Side, was the launching point for his song of the same name.
  • The 2002 album Adult World by guitarist Wayne Kramer (founding member of the Detroit band MC5) contains a song entitled Nelson Algren Stopped By, in which guest band X-Mars-X provides a shuffling jazz background while Kramer reads a prose poem about walking the streets of present-day Chicago with Algren.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Nelson Algren" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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