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Algren, Nelson

(US, 1909–81)

Brought up in Chicago, Algren used his early experiences as a newspaperman and itinerant worker during the Depression to create powerful if rambling novels dealing with the seamy underbelly of American society. His most famous book, The Man with the Golden Arm (1949), was made into a controversial Frank Sinatra film. Back from the war, Frankie Machine makes good bucks as a poker dealer with his ‘golden arm’; in return it demands a regular fix of cocaine, plunging him into junkie hell. Other novels include Never Come Morning (1942), set in the slums of Chicago, and A Walk on the Wild Side (1956) which follows naïve, handsome, well-hung Dove Linkhorn on his shambling adventures through the brothels of New Orleans. Algren's gallery of hustlers and fixers, gamblers, pimps, and prostitutes spring off the page, and he makes poetry of low-life street talk.

John Steinbeck, Jim Thompson  TH

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (A-Bo)