The fiction and reportage included in The Last Carousel, one of the final collections published during Nelson Algren's lifetime, was written on ships and in ports of call around the world, and includes accounts of brothels in Vietnam and Mexico, stories of the boxing ring, and reminiscences of Algren's beloved Chicago White Sox, among other subjects. In this collection, not just Algren's intensity but his diverse range of interests are revealed and celebrated.
One of America's best loved writers, Nelson Algren won the first National Book Award for Fiction in 1950. But his star faded following harassment by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI during the McCarthy era and changes in literary fashion. Now there's a Nelson Algren revival going on. Colin Asher's epic biography Never a Lovely So Real: The Life and Work of Nelson Algren arrives from Norton in April and is already receiving rave reviews from the likes of the New Yorker.
Seven Stories publisher Dan Simon's essay in the current Nation details why Nelson Algren matters so much—not just as a literary figure, but for us all, right here, right now. According to Simon, Asher's biography "delivers a wrenching portrait of a man who struggled to maintain his sanity and his spirit in a society that was well prepared to see its writers give up or sell out, but struggled to comprehend writers who persevered and paid the price as Algren did."
And speaking of right here, right now, take 75% off all e-books by Algren on the Seven Stories website. Click on any of the books below, or check out the collection right here.
Algren and Kurt Vonnegut were good friends, having taught together at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1965–7. See Malcolm Jack's piece in today's New York Times on the 50th Anniversary of Slaughterhouse Five.