Chicago: City On The Make by Nelson Algren, transcribed by Jack M Silverstein 1. The hustlers To the east were moving waters, as far as. Chicago: City on the Make: Sixtieth Anniversary Edition Paperback – October 15, Ernest Hemingway once said of Nelson Algren’s writing that “you should not read it if you cannot take a punch.”. Riding along to the next job reading my first Algren made it an afternoon. The book Chicago: City on the Make: Sixtieth Anniversary Edition, Nelson Algren is published by University of Chicago Press.
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Chicago: City on the Make is a book-length essay by Nelson Algren published in Initially greeted with scorn by critics and newspaper editors in the city of. Chicago City On The Make - [PDF] [EPUB] Chicago City On The Make The following are listings from North to South (body of water crossing). Chicago: City on the Make () is a book-length essay by American writer In this "prose poem" or "lyrical essay", Algren satirizes years of Chicago.
Whether or not that's a book worth the reading, I couldn't say. For me, it's an exemplary American effort, over and beyond the facile complaints of the upper-middleclass so haunts our fiction--here the sweat and tears of Dreiser, Masters, Sandburg, find comment and expansion.
Chicago's no sweet home, but the most terrible and American of places, scourged by power, reinvented, rootless--resting place of Haymarket and the ten thousand discouraged.
Mike Royko and Studs Terkel were award-winning writers and younger contemporaries of Algren who contributed to that tradition too. It depicts Chicago in a manner reflecting a hard-calloused sensibility that went out of fashion after Vietnam and Watergate.
The local gentry did not like the mirror that Algren held up to their city. To me, it coasts lazily on stereotypes resulting in a one dimensional depiction of a city that is far deeper and more complex than anything Algren even hints at in this short book.
There are four more thoughts that I want to share in this review. First, Algren assumes a lot from his readers. There are many references to obscure Chicago people and facts that are likely to be unfamiliar to most readers.
Without the background, however, a reader may not fully enjoy Algren's sly side-swipes at Chicago's many hypocrites, past and present. Second, in the edition that I read, an Afterword is included. The Afterword was written by Algren himself in , for a 10 year anniversary edition of the book. Algren's Afterword is not gracious. He makes little effort to disguise his anger or his motives. That failure does not reflect well on him.
Third, Algren is at his most entertaining when he reminisces about his childhood and the summer his family moved from the south side to the north side. He was a White Sox fan, and had to defend his honor and his favorite player, Swede Risberg, a chief conspirator in the then recent Black Sox scandal. Finally, Algren is at his most interesting when he bemoans the quality of literature being created in Chicago in the period immediately after WWII.
He remembers earlier times when Farrell, Ferber, Lonigan, Wright and others were writing the books that caused Mencken to call out Chicago as the city in America where the only books worth reading were being written. Yet, Algren himself and, a few years later, Saul Bellow were among the best of their generation.
I believe I am going to have to read it again. And then read it again.
This is my first time reading Algren, which I think is a crime when I have lived in Chicago my whole life. Any life-long Chicagoan must read Algren. Love is for barflies[ edit ] Before you earn the right to rap any sort of joint, you have to love it a little while. Opening line. A town of many angry sayings, some loud and some soft; some out of the corner of the mouth and some straight off the shoulder.
Yet the city keeps no creed, prefers no particular spire, advances no one color, tolerates all colors: the dark faces and the blue-eyed tribes, the sallow Slavs and the olive Italians. All the creeds that persecution harassed out of Europe find sanctuary on this ground, where no racial prejudice is permitted to stand up. You can belong to New Orleans.
You can belong to Boston or San Francisco. You might conceivably — however clandestinely — belong to Phildadelphia. But you can't belong to Chicago any more than you can belong to the flying saucer called Los Angeles. For it isn't so much a city as it is a drafty hustler's junction in which to hustle awhile and move on out of the draft. Big-shot town, small-shot town, jet-propelled old-fashioned town, by old-world hands with new-world tools built into a place whose heartbeat carries farther than its shout, whose whispering in the night sounds less hollow than its roistering noontime laugh: they have builded a heavy-shouldered laughter here who went to work too young.
So careless and so soon careworn, so challenging yet secretly despairing — how can such a cocksure Johnson of a town catch anybody but a barfly's heart? Yet on nights when, under all the arc-lamps, the little men of the rain come running, you'll know at last that, long long ago, something went wrong between St.
Columbanus and North Troy Street. And Chicago divided your heart. Chapter 5. Bright faces of tomorrow[ edit ] Giants lived here once. It was the kind of town, thirty years gone, that made big men out of little ones. It was geared for great deeds then, as it is geared for small deeds now. Now it's the place where we do as we're told, praise poison, bless the F. And cannot understand how it can be that others are happier than ourselves. And why it seems that no one loves us now as they once did.
Out of the Twisted Twenties flowered the promise of Chicago as the homeland and heartland of an American renaissance, a place of poets and sculptors to come, of singers and painters, dancers, actors and actresses of golden decades yet to be. The springs dried up and the sands drifted in, and the caravans went the other way. The city today is more a soldier's than an artist's town. It's in the nature of the overbraided brass to build walls around the minds of men — as it is in the nature of the arts to tear those dark walls down.
Wise up, Jim: it's a joint where the bulls and the foxes live well and the lambs wind up head-down from the hook. Make the Tribune bestseller list and the Friends of American Writers, the Friends of Literature, the Friends of Shakespeare and the Friends of Frank Harris will be tugging at your elbow, tittering down your collar, coyly sneaking an extra olive into your martini or drooling flatly right into your beer with the drollest sort of flattery and the cheapest grade of praise: the grade reserved strictly for proven winners.
The very toughest sort of town, they'll tell you — that's what makes it so American. It just acts with the nervous violence of the two-timing bridegroom whose guilt is more than he can bear: the bird who tries to throw his bride off the scent by accusing her of infidelity loudly enough for the neighbors to hear.
The guiltier he feels the louder he talks. That's the sort of little loud talker we have in Chicago today. He isn't a tough punk, he's just a scared one. Americans everywhere face gunfire better than guilt. These are the pavement-colored thousands of the great city's nighttime streets, a separate race with no place to go and the whole long night to kill.
Every day is D-day under the El. Closing line. Chapter 6.
No more giants[ edit ] It used to be a writer's town and it's always been a fighter's town. For writers and fighters and furtive torpedoes, cat-bandits, baggage thieves, hallway head-lockers on the prowl, baby photographers and stylish coneroos, this is the spot that is always most convenient, being so centrally located, for settling ancestral grudges.
Whether the power is in a. Town of the flagpole sitters, iron city, where everything looks so old yet the people look so young. Town of the small, cheerful apartments, the beer in the icebox, the pipes in the rack, the children well behaved and the TV well tuned, the armchairs fatly upholstered and the record albums filed: 33 rpm, 45 rpm, 78 rpm.
Where the 33 rpm husband and proud father eats all his vitamin-stuffed dinner cautiously and then streaks to the bar across the street to drink himself senseless among strangers, at 78 rpm, all alone. A Jekyll-and-Hyde sort of burg, where one university's faculty members can protest sincerely against restrictive covenants on the blighted streets bordering their campus — not knowing that the local pay roll draws on real estate covered by covenants like a tent.
Let's get back to them saints, Professor. It's awful cold out there. The giants cannot come again; all the bright faces of tomorrow are careworn hustlers' faces. It is then that the women come out of the summer hotels to sit one stone step above the pavement, surveying the men curb-sitting one step below it.
Between them pass the nobodies from nowhere, the nobodies nobody knows, with faces cut from the same cloth as their caps, and the women whose eyes reflect nothing but the pavement. The nameless, useless nobodies who sleep behind the taverns, who sleep beneath the El. Who sleep in burnt-out busses with the windows freshly curtained; in winterized chicken coops or patched-up truck bodies. The useless, helpless nobodies nobody knows: that go as the snow goes, where the wind blows, there and there and there, down any old cat-and-ashcan alley at all.
There, unloved and lost forever, lost and unloved for keeps and a day, [ Chapter 7. Nobody knows where O'Connor went[ edit ] An October sort of city even in spring. Also quoted as: "[Chicago is] an October sort of city even in spring. Out of Man's endless war against himself we build our successes as well as our failures. Making in the city of all cities most like Man himself — loneliest creation of all this very old poor earth. It's hustle and bustle from day to day, chicken one day and feathers the next, and nobody knows where O'Connor went.