A Walk On The Wild Side Paperback – 26 Jan 2006
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"... a cult classic....Less of a traditional narrative and more like a poetic force of nature, Wild Side is a boisterous panegyric to the side street solitaries who dream their impossible dreams" (The Telegraph)
"One of the most powerful books I have ever read." (Alyson Rudd The Times)
"The 1956 classic that gave Lou Reed his most famous song is republished in paperback with an introductory essay from Russell Banks - and don't be tempted to skip it: this pocket-book guide to Algren's own life of doomed love, addiction and disappointment, is a gripping read in itself." (The Scotsman)
"Mr. Algren, boy, you are good." (Ernest Hemingway)
"The intensity of his feeling, the accuracy of his thought, make me wonder if any other writer of our time has shown us more exactly the basis of our democracy. His hell burns with passion for heaven." (New York Times Book Review)
From the Back Cover
"Mr Algren, boy, you are good."
The story of a naïve country boy who busts out of Hicksville, Texas, in pursuit of a better life in New Orleans. A Walk in the Wild Side is a large-hearted, funny, angry, lonely masterpiece, a book that has captured the imaginations of every generation since it first appeared in 1956, and that rendered a world later immortalised in
Lou Reed's classic song.
"Deserves to be read by every Catch-22 and Cuckoo's Nest freak just so they can find out what opened the door for [these] two novels ... It's not that before Heller and Kesey there was Algren. It's that Algren is where they came from."
"The intensity of his feeling, the accuracy of his thought, make me wonder if any other writer of our time has shown us more exactly the basis of our democracy. His hell burns with passion for heaven." New York Times Book Review
"Algren wrote with courage and love against the grain of the American empire ... embodying a vision of truth that seems strikingly contemporary." Richard FlanaganSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Algren, like his French equivalents Celine and Zola, manages to inhabit a world of impoverished dreamers and losers, holding up a cracked mirror to their tragic lives without ever patronising or judging them. Instead he depicts them as real people trapped in a cycle of poverty and despair, people who dream of something better despite having been damned to a lifetime of anything but. People who dare to hope in the face of inevitabilities older than the ground they walk on, setting themselves up for tragic endings they see coming from a mile off.
This was Algren's gift and that is why this is a great book.
-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.
Algren was an influential writer, although never quite as revered as Steinbeck. If you like this, I urge you checkout John Dos Passos' 'USA'. and John Rechy's 'Cityof Night' for contrasting views of the flipside of the American Dream.
This is a different world, America growing more grotesque in the light of it's political will and it's heaving, spitting, degenerative hypocrisy. It is funny, gripping, heartbreaking and tremendously alive. Thrumming with heat and dust and dirt; a fantastic read, headlong and unremitting, it grabs you by the throat and squeezes a half-horrified, half-entranced reaction. Brilliant, linguistically groundbreaking, emotionally roller-coasting, beautiful and terrible, a surreal dream of lives and deaths - it is stunning.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nelson Algren - always no holds barred - any observation from life permissible however excruciating, painful, vacuous; often funny, always beautiful phrases, startling annotations... Read morePublished on 13 Feb. 2014 by M
This was bought for a friend. It is one of my favorite books. This is life as a low life, transformed to poetry. PLease read it and consider this. Read morePublished on 27 Jun. 2011 by artonmove
Interestingly Algren punctured the American balloon of pomposity and alerted the world to the preening lack of confidence in the new world. Read morePublished on 18 Mar. 2010 by Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles