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This review is from: A Walk On The Wild Side (Kindle Edition)
...is what this novel is all about.
-And what impressions! I don't think I have ever come across a novel as impressionistic as this. It somehow prefigures the gut wrenching force of Cormack McCarthy, another unforgettably atmospheric writer.
This is strictly an ode to life's downtrodden losers: the suckers to whom W.C. Fields would never give an even break.
Whilst in no way an easy read, it is as graphic as life itself in all it's hellish degradation, and pulls no punches in ramming home what abject failure is all about. A real downer, about the kind of people a lot of us never get to meet, who nevertheless become all too familiar through the extraordinarily mordant pen of a writer I have never previously read.
Mr Algren must have been quite a tortured soul to have devoted so much force of experience into describing what otherwise would constitute an amorphous, nondescript bottom layer of American society that nobody would give two hoots about. In his hands, however, Dove Linkhorn, the protagonist, and the human flotsam he manages to attract to his virtual non-existence, becomes an anti-hero that is utterly unforgettable.
Although he manages to make his way from some godforsaken one-horse town in Texas to New Orleans, the book is almost totally lacking a plot. It lives (or dies) on its fly-on-the wall description of the characters, places and seedy lives that occur within. Had a plot been added this would surely rank as a masterpiece.
As it is, I would best describe it as a masterpiece of descriptive writing, although somewhat less as a novel overall.