Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Short Story Club Returns

We’ve been derelict in our Short Story Club duties, but leave it to our audience to rekindle the flame. Reader and blogger Jami Balkom has offered to throw the spotlight on a short story by Nelson Algren, an author we’ve never covered on this blog. We’ll post the story today, and invite you all to throw in your own two cents tomorrow. Without further ado, here’s Jami’s introduction (Thanks, Jami!) :
Nelson Algren was one of the most popular literary fiction writers in America during the later 40’s and early 50’s,  providing a unique and loud voice for the down-and-outer, for the failures of society, for those who never made it to the inside of any circle.  This reputation was largely based on Algren's novel A Walk on theWild Side   which was made even more famous by this Lou Reed song:

But it was his short story collection, The Neon Wilderness, that started it all, published in 1947, just two years before the release of his National Book Award winning novel, The Man with the Golden Arm.  The loser in all of his manifestations-- drug addict, homeless scavenger, cheating husband, street performer begging for change, all of them came to life in Algren’s short stories, paving the way for a career that would define the author as much as the author shaped the world inhabited by his stories’ characters.  The short story “how the devil camedown division street” is a nice snapshot of Algren’s world view, a view that permeated the many novels and short stories that followed, a world view that can be summed up nicely by a quote from the story: “The devil lives in a double-shot.”


Here’s how Algren kicks off the story:
“Last Saturday evening there was a great argument in the Polonia Bar. All the biggest drunks on Division were there, trying to decide who the biggest drunk of them was. Symanski said he was, and Oljiec said he was, and Koncel said he was, and Czechowski said he was.
“Then Roman Orlov came in and the argument was decided.”
Read the rest here, and come back tomorrow for Jami’s take, and to add some thoughts of your own!

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