Nelson Algren quotes

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Nelson Algren

Birthdate: 28. March 1909
Date of death: 9. May 1981

Nelson Algren was an American writer. He may be best known for The Man with the Golden Arm, a 1949 novel that won the National Book Award and was adapted as a 1955 film of the same name.

According to Harold Augenbraum, "in the late 1940s and early 1950s he was one of the best known literary writers in America." The lover of French writer Simone de Beauvoir, he was featured in her novel The Mandarins, set in Paris and Chicago.

He is considered "a bard of the down-and-outer", based on this book and his novel A Walk on the Wild Side . The latter was adapted as a play of the same name, produced on Broadway.

Works

„I haven't consciously tried to develop [a style]. The only thing I've consciously tried to do was put myself in a position to hear the people I wanted to hear talk talk.“

—  Nelson Algren

"The Art of Fiction No. 11" (1955)
Context: Well, I haven't consciously tried to develop [a style]. The only thing I've consciously tried to do was put myself in a position to hear the people I wanted to hear talk talk. I used the police lineup for I don't know how many years. [... ] I was just over on the South Side and got rolled. But they gave me a card, you know, to look for the guys in the lineup, and I used that card for something like seven years.

„I've always felt strongly that a writer shouldn't be engaged with other writers, or with people who make books, or even with people who read them. I think the farther away you get from the literary traffic, the closer you are to sources.“

—  Nelson Algren

"The Art of Fiction No. 11" (1955)
Context: I don't know many writers. [... ] Well, I dunno, but I do have the feeling that other writers can't help you with writing. I've gone to writers' conferences and writers' sessions and writers' clinics, and the more I see of them, the more I'm sure it's the wrong direction. It isn't the place where you learn to write. I've always felt strongly that a writer shouldn't be engaged with other writers, or with people who make books, or even with people who read them. I think the farther away you get from the literary traffic, the closer you are to sources. I mean, a writer doesn't really live, he observes.

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