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Walk on the Wild Side Paperback – Import, January 26, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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[D]eserves 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 only that before Heller and Kesey there was Algren. It's that Algren is where they come from. --Rolling Stone --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.

From the Back Cover

With its depictions of the downtrodden prostitutes, bootleggers, and hustlers of Perdido Street in the old French Quarter of 1930s New Orleans, A Walk on the Wild Side found a place in the imaginations of all the generations that have followed since. Perhaps his own words describe the book best: "The book 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". --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: CANONGATE BOOKS (January 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841956805
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841956800
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,502,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
In a perfect world, _A Walk on the Wild Side_ would be remembered as Algren's best book, and would be read in American literature classes.
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!)
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By A Customer on April 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having read the book a long time ago I can't describe particulars, but it remains years later my #1 favorite book of all time. If you enjoy beautifully written stories about not-so-beautiful people, this novel is a must-read. The characters are from society's underbelly, and, while Algren does not glorify them, he makes you feel great empathy for them. Besides presenting you with powerful characters, his use of words is astonishing. I can only describe Algren's language as "raw poetry." His words are poetic while the content is not (as opposed to, say, Henry Miller's language, which is powerful and raw but can't exactly be described as poetic [in my opinion, anyway]). This is simply a beautiful book most people would call you crazy for describing as beautiful.
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Format: Paperback
You are a good person, pay your taxes, honour your parents, do an honest's days work...so nothing in common with whores, drug addicts, boot-lickers, queers, hustlers, drunkards, jail fodder. You are a good honest citizen looking out for others.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Nelson Algren's novel relates the adventures of Dove Linkhorn, an illiterate young man who leaves poverty and a failed love affair behind him to wander the countryside. He has many adventures along the way until he settles for a time in New Orleans, where he will experience happiness and great tragedy.

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.
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Format: Paperback
This book is about people who have nothing to lose, so they can afford to take chances.
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.
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Country boy Dove Linkhorn, son of Fitz ( hell-fire preacher and cesspool cleaner ),defiler of women, smarter than he looks bum, leaves Texas for New Orleans where he fits right in for a while, with the depression-era cripples, prostitutes, pimps, flimflam artists,and prison-life.
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.
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