The Short Writings of Nelson Algren

A Study of His Stories, Essays, Articles, Reviews, Poems and Other Literature


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About the Book

Nelson Algren was a renowned Chicago writer known for his social commentary and his novels like The Man with the Golden Arm and A Walk on the Wild Side. Although he continues to be remembered almost exclusively for his novels, this book aims to highlight the value and influence of his short form works.
Before he died in 1981, Algren had amassed a genre-defying body of work, including short stories, articles, poems and book reviews. The present book features a comprehensive analysis and discussion of Algren’s lost literature, including everything but his novels.
One of the pieces covered is a masterpiece of race relations written in 1950, more than 60 years before the galvanization of the Black Lives Matter movement. Another is a scathing poem about Algren’s transatlantic love affair with Simone de Beauvoir. Both items are reprinted in the book courtesy of the Algren estate. This book also includes references to Algren’s works that have yet to be studied by Algren scholars.

About the Author(s)

Richard F. Bales is semi-retired after working more than 40 years in the real estate title insurance profession. He lives in Aurora, Illinois.

Bibliographic Details

Richard F. Bales
Foreword by Kenneth G. McCollum
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 270
Bibliographic Info: 38 photos, appendices, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8132-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4709-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword 1
Introduction 3
Part One: Literary Eras
The Men’s Magazines Era 13
The Chicago Free Press Era 43
The Chicago Magazine Era 59
Part Two: Specific Genres
Poetry 73
Nelson Algren and the Ethics of Book Reviewing 108
Book Introductions 151
Part Three: Special Interests
Chicago White Sox Literature 161
The Writing of Chicago: City on the Make 183
Boxing Short Stories and Other Works 216
Gambling Short Stories and Other Works 219
Horse Racing Short Stories and Other Works 224
Epilogue 229
Appendix A: Anthologies 233
Appendix B: “The World’s Busiest Police Station”: A Lost Masterpiece on Race Relations 243
Appendix C: Bibliography for Captions to Illustrations 251
Index 255

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Weaving outstanding biographical narrative with an impressively researched, deeply nuanced and highly documented compilation and analysis of the lesser-known Nelson Algren canon. Mr. Bales supplies rich insights into the forgotten world of pulp magazine publishing where Algren writings appeared in later years, revealing in fascinating detail the inner man—his passion, peccadilloes, and occasional spitefulness toward fellow authors and contemporaries. The oft-repeated literary adage, ‘a page turner’ truly applies to The Short Writings of Nelson Algren.”—Richard Lindberg, author of Tales of Forgotten Chicago

• “Algren scholars are forever indebted to Richard Bales for his latest book, The Short Writings of Nelson Algren. … Bales’ book rounds out the life and writings of Algren and serves as an important addition to biographies and anthologies so far published. In fact, it is difficult to imagine this book hadn’t been written already; it adds so much to Algren readers’ understanding of the man, his endeavors and his joys. …belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who loves Algren.”—Sue Rutsen, co-founder, Nelson Algren Museum of Miller Beach

• “Terrific photos…clear and concise writing. Even the most ardent and knowledgeable Algren fan will find here things new to them and be pleased to have done so.”—Chicago Tribune