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Walk on the Wild Side Paperback – Import, January 26, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Algren is a much-needed antidote to both romantics who idealize the poor and to conservatives who feel smugly superior to the lower classes but have no real sense of the difficulties they face.
Its social significance aside, _Walk_ should be read by anyone interested in literary style. Algren's narrative voice--pugnacious, amused, and quietly outraged--explains why Algren has always been read by writers, even if a larger general audience continues to escape him.
(While it is true this novel reworks material from _The Neon Wilderness_, it is put to much better use here--read _Walk_ first!)
Last week I was on a train that got stuck outside of Bristol by the floods for several hours, we moved up and down the tracks and stopped before moving up and down the tracks again. Eventually we returned to Taunton and were dumped at the station. Outside the promised coaches were absent, it was bucketing down rain and no one from the rail company in charge. When coaches did arrive in dribs and drabs 300+ people ran as if fleeing a doomed city. No thoughts given to parents with babes in arms, to elderly passengers struggling with heavy cases. I bet you that we were all good people, who pay our taxes...
In Walk on the Wild Side, Nelson Algren asks "why lost people sometimes develop into greater human beings than those who have never been lost in their whole lives. Why men who have suffered at the hands of other men are the natural believers in humanity, while those whose part has been simply to acquire, to take all and give nothing, are the most contemptuous of mankind."
The book was written at the on set of the cold war in the 1950's but is set in the Deep south of the early 1930's. Algren himself went into popular and critical decline soon after in part due to the abuses of McCarthyism and in part to his own hard drinking, gambling and drug taking.
The story starts with Dove a Southern trailer trash illiterate 16 year old in the Mexican-Texas border. His grandfather is traveling preacher...described by Dove as the type that makes you want to throw your Bible away. He is barefoot, and in country yokel jeans.Read more ›
Linkhorn is an appealing character, whose desire to better himself makes him easy to sympathize with. The real star of this novel, however, is Algren's prose. Hemingway himself felt that Algren was one of the best writers in America, although their styles couldn't be more different. In contrast to Hemingway's stark, deceptively simple prose, Algren's is full of flourishes and wordplay. I have never encountered a writer that was more adept at breaking my heart and making me laugh out loud on the same page--sometimes in the same paragraph. There are verbal fireworks going off in this book. His characters are extreme types living on the fringe of society, but Algren makes them come alive. Highly recommended.
It's funny, sad and provocative. Yes, I know that some parts have been lifted from "Neon Wilderness" but it works for me.
My advice to anyone who's read the book but not seen the movie that's "supposedly" based on this book: DON'T.
You will be disappointed. The story is not the same. It's so different from Algren's book that Algren himself didn't even attend the premiere.
If you haven't read this book and are a fan of stories about marganalized people, then by all means, read it.
It shows the "downtrodden" as complex and real people.
Much of this book is a re-run of Somebody in Boots and Never Come Morning, with modifications. Unlike those books, the prose style is Algren at his most polished. Even so he overdoes it on many occasions where a simple statement would have sufficed. But redeems himself by pretty much avoiding the annoying switch in viewpoint within multiple character scenes that mar his other, otherwise excellent work.
Nelson Algren didn't write all that many books in his long career, a state of affairs that could be condensed into two titles: A Walk on the Wild Side and The Man with the Golden Arm.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Men causing havoc, the seedy side of life, well described if you like that kind of thing. Matt Love recommended it. Read more
I believe this was supposed to be Algren's masterpiece, but don't quote me on that. If you are a Grapes of Wrath fan, this should be on your reading list. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Marian Deegan
a sensitive and fascinating book about the underbelly of life in the '30's.
underbelly not by choice, but by chance.
I tried. I was within 100 pages and I just could not finish it. I could not pick it up to finish it. Read morePublished 13 months ago by tennessee
I am one of those who prefers the film to the book. For openers, the Kindle edition I purchased featured cheesy italic typeface that was a pain to read, unfriendly. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Eric Ehrmann