Wednesday, March 21, 2012

If You Don't Know Him You Should



Since i'm aiming at keeping my record of writing nothing of consequence on a roll i'm giving you this, see when i was in the game i spent alot of time reading, laying in bed before i had to get up and go to some shit job that was nothing more than a front for the real work that began when i got home... and you see on the nights when i wasn't out running the streets, slinging grass or hash or shrooms or the occasional dalliance in powder, i would lay in bed and read books, it took my mind off the fact that with one mis-step, with one fucking deal gone awry, one fucking lapse in judgement, that i could be the prettiest girl on the cell block, it's the kind of shit i didn't want to think about, it's the kind of shit that helps you survive for ten straight years in the game, not counting the offs and ons before or since and in those years i read alot of books and some were better than others but one of my favorites was Nelson Algren, this is Barry Gifford and Don Delillo reading him, Algren died sitting in a chair in his flat, died of nothing more than hard living which is a disease some of us suffer more than others, we may try to kick it but it's a tough fucking habit to break...

You see in his characters i saw the people of my own life, a life being spent in the smoke and neon, spent in dive bars listening to Motown, dive bars stained with nicotine and piss and the blood of the people who would come and go like shadows, there one day and gone the next, left to become local lore or forgotten, last seen standing outside on the pay phone, people like Cocaine Ike, Hippie Jim, Crazy Lenny, the Glimmer Twins- Maggie and Martha, a couple of junkies on the make, The Junky Den of N. Dithridge, Slick Vic, Rebecca the Bartender, Marilyn the coked-up stripper, Mustache Mary, Mr. Big, Papa Smurf and me, the tall white kid... and if you listen to the last 45 or so seconds of this reading you'll understand alot about how i think and where i've been and who i might be, i'm far from fucking innocent and you'd be well to hide your women and lock up your booze... and of course you'll meet all these people someday, just not today, these and a few i've left out or failed to mention but for now you should get to know Nelson Algren, winner of the first National Book Award for the Man with the Golden Arm, a Chicago legend, a gambler, a drinker, a lover and a writer who i'm quite proud to say is a hero of mine. 

(And yes i own and have read everything the man has ever written, barring a few love letters to Simone, even went so far as to spend some hard earned drug money on a signed copy, now i'm going for a smoke.)

8 comments:

Rubye Jack said...

"died of nothing more than hard living, which is a disease..."

I've written the name Algren down and now just need to go find him.

kid said...

the thing about Algren's stories are how stupefyingly perfect they are. not a wasted letter. 'how the devil came down division street' is a gift from the gods.

he's 103 next week.

Rassles said...

The Man With the Golden Arm is something I would list amongst my top ten favorites of all time. Plus it takes place in my hood.

I think the best thing about his work, to me, is how after everything he writes about you always get a sense of dark, destructive wonder at the reality of everything, an "is this really happening?" quality that so few writers have.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Have you been raiding my bookshelves while I'm at work? I had a signed first edition of Walk on the Wild Side but sold it for some now long-forgotten crisis. Regret. And you should check out Barry Gifford if you haven't already. That guy's got the goods, too. I just finished Wyoming and it was a great, quick read.

sybil law said...

Algren is awesome. Kono, you don't steer us wrong, do you?

nursemyra said...

Of course I've heard of him but ashamed to say I've not read him. going to fix that now.

Dolce said...

too many books...not enough life...

Dolce said...

PS I love being read to. This man could read to me all day. I like his American everyone-kinda voice.