download The Man with the Golden Arm By Nelson Algren –

Nelson Algren S Devastating Of That Savage, Subterranean World Go Gamblers, Junkies, Alcoholics, Prostitutes, Thieves, And Degenerates Remains Unsurpassed As An Authentic Portrait Of Human DepravityOnly A Master Like Algren Could Create Such A Passionate And Dramatic Novel Of So Daring A Theme As A Man S Struggle Against Dope AddictionE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, The Bestseller On Which Otto Preminger Based His Magnificent Motion Picture, Is A True Novelist S Triumph TIME

10 thoughts on “The Man with the Golden Arm

  1. says:

    Listen up, those of you who loved Hard Rain Falling Carpenter s good, but as far as I can tell from just reading one book from each of them, Carpenter owes just about everything he s got to Algren The Man With the Golden Arm follows Frankie Machine, morphine addict and sometime card dealer, on a slow path of dissolution my favorite kind of path It s similar to Infinite Jest in its sober and sobering study of addiction and the cycle of poverty, and I have a hard time believing Sergeant McGantic wasn t the direct inspiration for Wallace s smiley faced Sergeant at Arms.Not that that s the only angle, of course Frankie falls in with a young punk called Sparrow, they become friends, and a murder causes any number of problems between them, driving the tension of the second half of the story This was apparently the main thrust of the whole book until someone told Algren he needed another angle, so he added in the morphine stuff later Which is shocking I never, ever would have guessed that Algren weaves it in so seamlessly that it seems like it was the impetus for the book all along And the style It might be a little lyrical for the tastes of some, but the effortlessness of it negates any distaste I may have had for the purple passages And there s a great contrast between the grittiness of the dialogue and the grace of the narration Here s a sample quote from among the lyrical A roach had leaped, or fallen, from the ceiling into the water bucket, where a soggy slice of pumpernickel and a sodden hunk of sausage now circled slowly, about and about, although there was no current Belly upward, the roach s legs plied the alien air, trying dreamily to regain a foothold while Frankie, leaning dreamily on one elbow, knew just how that felt A little facile, maybe we already probably could have guessed that Frankie felt that way But the phrasing is so good as to cancel that out and then some Or this The marks of debauchery were seamed across his face like a chronic disease Compare that with dialogue that s firmly colloquial and seems very believable as far as I can tell this, by the way, from an old Polish cuckold, talking to his wife and her lover Work all day, seven days, no days off, buy nize t ings by howz, pay grocernia, pay buczernia, pay mens I don t even know what s for, comes time to sleep everyt ing all paid n nize clean howz so ever body sleep who comes by howz from whisky tavern Mrs No good with dronk pocket picker Should be in bed by h oosband instead on head n makes funny Is Christmas, now we fight all night Is somethin got to happen, is all That s way doctored, of course, than the voices of the other, less heavily accented characters But regarding the frequent italics I remember taking issue with Nicola Barker s excessive use of same in Darkmans, but this is different Maybe that s because I believe modern day Brits don t place tons of emphasis on individual words within a sentence, but I very much do believe that Chicagoans from the 1940 s did And Algren picks up on it, elucidating the cadences of that speech and doing a good job of bringing me right there.I really don t know what else to say about this, because again, I feel like I ve lost the capacity to intelligently review a book, maybe because I don t have whole afternoons to devote to it like I used to, but overall, the quality of the prose and the timelessness and profoundness of the story have me convinced that Algren is seriously underread and underrated.

  2. says:

    I m not entirely sure how I feel about this book.First off, the writing Holy crap can Algren write The language is lush and gorgeous His ability to paint vivid character portraits is among the best I ve ever read Analogy and metaphor are this cat s playground While I m not much for the world of literature, it s easy to see why this won the National Book Award in 1950.On the other hand, though, is the story itself Goddamn depressing Wait, I should use all caps IT IS GODDAMNED DEPRESSING All of the characters a miserable, trapped in the tenements with no future, no hope, and steadily destroyed their lives with booze and drugs There is no plot I repeat, there is no plot Like a lot of literature which may be the reason I don t gravitate toward it , this is simply a slice of life from a rough part of Chicago Aside from the drinking, cavorting, complaining and succumbing to base instincts, the characters don t do anything So combine amazing writing, and a story without a plot, and you get my four stars If you are a writer, read it Period If you are not a writer and you like stories with a plot, it s not for you.

  3. says:

    I grew up in Chicago in the neighborhood Algren writes about and at the same time he was writing about it so from the beginning I was at odds with this book This isn t the neighborhood that I grew up in But after finishing the book and thinking about some of my Polish relatives who either owned taverns or spent a lot of time in taverns I have to reluctantly admit that Algren is portraying a part of Chicago that I was simply too young to know about.Some reviewers have referred to this neighborhood as a slum Well, this neighborhood at that time was most definitely not a slum It was a blue collar, Polish and Jewish working class neighborhood Many of the buildings in this Wicker Park neighborhood were divided into rental apartments These three story buildings often had two apartments per floor and were protected by rent controls for a number of years after World War II The streets were clean and many of the kids walked to Catholic schools Milwaukee Avenue, often referred to as Polish Broadway, was a main shopping area with lots of nice stores The store he calls Niebolts was Wiebolts department store and Golds was Goldblatts department store Both are now long gone but served the working class very well.The kind of neighborhood taverns where people sit around and play cards, drink, and maybe even do dope can still be found in virtually any little as well as big town today If you look for it you will find it Algren, at the time had little money and this was an inexpensive neighborhood to live in He seems to have been naturally attracted to this level of society He liked to drink and gamble and he liked to write about people who for whatever reason were stuck in a world they were not likely to ever escape from Algren portrays them as they really were mostly not very nice But, they were fellow human beings and as such they were worthy of having their story told as well.His writing style is lyrical and poetic..deliberately quite a contrast to the folks he is writing about This book was hard to get through because these people are so unappealing, but I m really glad I made the effort I think he was rightly given the first National Book Award for this novel In a cruel joke that I m sure Algren appreciated he never made a penny off the movie version of his book

  4. says:

    The old American myth is that if we work hard and have a properly optimistic attitude, the world is at our fingertips Life is good and good for you in God s Country This is bullshit.And Nelson Algren, at the height of the McCarthy Era, had the courage to say so His are the stories of all the American dreamers who lost out While the story drags a bit at time, it s still compelling Algren breaks up the storyline with long, poetically gorgeous ruminations about sociology, psychology, and what it is to be down and out in the most prosperous nation on the planet The net effect is a remarkably complete seeming and poignant picture of a forgotten hellscape of addiction, squalor, and the derailment of the immigrant dream.

  5. says:

    It s rough, it s sloppy, it s poetic, meandering, even I think contradictory at one point, and ultimately exquisitely sad and utterly beautiful Particularly effecting here is the mix of cynicism with vulnerability, making this novel maybe the finest depiction of that human condition in which we re always bleeding and always finding novel ways to stem the blood flow by pretending it doesn t hurt that much, by ridiculing the pain as if we don t feel it at all.My first Algren, I can t wait to read another It packs much of the same wallop of a Hubert Selby Jr., a favorite of mine, but with perhaps a less controlled narrative, and, most interestingly, without the ostensibly Christian empathy angle from which Selby created his works So, either Algren arrived at depicting the naked, suffering human from a purely secular, existentialist angle logical, it seems to me, as that s pretty much my own philosophical stance and I always fall back on a love of humanity, and particularly useless suffering as our humanity s most salient characteristic and therefore the greatest beauty of our restlessly self destructive species or that he was a Christian beneath his writerly pose Speaking of which, I enjoyed the extra essays in this critical edition, especially the personal memoir of John Clellon Holmes, who puts Algren into what we have to figure now is his historical context As well as bemoaning how short is the shelf life of writing shorter, sadly, than the lives of most writers This is why I waited until I was 50 to publish I wish.

  6. says:

    The Man with the Golden Arm is an incredible peace of American literature which tells the story of Frankie Machine When Frankie arrives home to Chicago from the Second World War he comes back with a Morphine habit which he initially hides from his associates and wife Life for Frankie is hard, he dreams of being a drummer but his real skill is in his arm, being a card dealer He uses his skills to make his money However back at home his wife Sophie is not making life easy for him either She has been in a wheelchair since her and Frankie had a car accident however it is suggested the illness is psychosomatic she certainly uses this to keep Frankie with her As the book progresses life for Frankie becomes and unbearable and his habit spirals out of control.I had a really hard time grading this book because I found it a really difficult read, it took me a long time to get into it and although there were some very interesting sections I found it hard going However the contribution Nelson Algren made to the history of literature with this book cannot be ignored It was one of the first novels which saw poorer classes being depicted as poor and whats not trying to better themselves, unlike authors before him Algren was trying to tell his readers that sometimes when society thinks people are bad they really are The excellence of the writing and the quality story cannot be ignored and I would encourage others to read this novel It truly deserves it s place on the 1001 books to Read Before you Die list.

  7. says:

    A mind blowing book, set in the tenements and bars of the down and out in pre WWII Chicago the main character a junkie card dealer whose arm is golden because of his steady dealing skills and the lines of scars an amazing mixture of idiomatic language capturing the thoughts, ticks, and dreams of the homeless, alcoholics, cripples, bar owners and prostitutes and a pristine, lyrical narrative voice you are both in the world and looking in into its tragedy is this book christian in its negative utopia redemption through utter despair, failure, and heart wrenching betrayals or is it a negative image of a communist ideal

  8. says:

    A Dark Novel From The Poet Of The LostI had the opportunity to watch a new documentary film, Nelson Algren The End is Nothing, the Road is All in which one of the interviewees refers to Algren 1909 1981 as the poet of the lost The film moved me to revisit Algren, a writer I don t know well, and to read his best known novel, The Man With The Golden Arm Algren received the first National Book Award for this novel in 1950 an outstanding initial choice for a premiere literary award In the novel, Algren tells the story of lost, lonely individuals He writes with a harsh beauty amply justifying the film s reference to him as the poet of the lost The novelist Kurt Vonnegut who knew Algren refers to him near the end of the film as the loneliest man I ever met , a description that would apply to many of the characters in Algren s award winning novel.The novel is set in the bars, cheap apartments, prisons, and streets frequented by the Chicago underclass in 1947 1948 The novel s main character, who goes by the name of Frankie Machine, has acquired the nickname of the man with the golden arm due in part to his steadiness in dealing cards Frankie aspires to put his steadiness of arm, wrist and hand to use by becoming a jazz drummer Characters in this novel often are called by their roles, and Frankie is known as Dealer Frankie served in the Army in WW II, took a severe wound to the stomach, and became a morphine addict Algren s novel is one of the first to explore seriously and realistically the use of drugs.The novel is filled with low life, highly differentiated characters, including Frankie s friend Solly, a mildly retarded petty thief who usually is called Sparrow, or punk Frankie is unhappily married to Sophie, called Zosh who is bitter and confined to a wheelchair after an accident with Frankie driving the car Frankie has a mistress, Mollie, a stripper and bar maid Sparrow has a mistress, Violet, whom he sees when her husband, the Old Man is asleep or in his cups The book is replete with shady, colorful characters, including the bar owner, the keeper of the fixed card games that uses Frankie as the dealer, crooked lawyers, quack doctors, gamblers, drunks, petty criminals, and fixers.The plot develops slowly and involves Frankie and Sparrow s relationship and the accidental killing of the fixer, Louis, which results in Frankie s attempt to evade the law The novel is in two lengthy sections with most of the action and plot development taking place in the second section Most of the book consists of a lengthy series of vignettes of varying lengths separated by paragraph breaks These small sections each focus on a particular scene and a small group of individuals They develop character and settings Aspects of the story get foretold in each of the settings but dimly so with the overall focus of the story becoming clear only as it proceeds The scenes are often not chronological and sometimes tend to run into each other with an almost surrealistic effect.Much of the novel is in dialogue and full of the slang of the late 1940s The book is replete with religious, racial, and national derogatory terms that would not meet contemporary standards The book is full of quotations from billboards, ads, and popular songs The omniscient narrator s voice is, in contrast to the dialogue, poetic and rhythmical With its lyricism, the novel concludes fittingly with a poem Throughout the book, the narrator describes and comments on the characters and their actions with a mix of compassion and irony In this passage early in the novel, the narrator comments on the American dream through Frankie s eyes The great, secret and special American guilt of owning nothing, nothing at all, in the one land where ownership and virtue are one Guilt that lay crouched behind every billboard which gave each man his commandments for each man here had failed the billboards all down the line No Ford in this one s future nor ever any place all his own Had failed before the radio commercials, by the street car plugs and by the standards of every self respecting magazine With his own eyes he had seen the truer Americans mount the broad stone stairways to success surely and swiftly and unaided by others he was always the one left alone, it seemed at last, without enough sense of honor to climb off a West Madison Street Keep Our City Clean box and not enough ambition to raise his eyes back to the billboards The following passage describes a nightly gathering of suspects in a local police station Yet they come on and come on, and where they come from no captain knows and where they go no captain goes mush workers and lush workers, catamites and sodomites, bucket workers and bail jumpers, till tappers and assistant pickpockets, square johns and copper johns lamisters and hallroom boys, ancient pious perverts and old blown parolees, rapoes and record men the damned and the undaunted, the jaunty and condemned The novel starts slowly and with some rough edges gathers in force and conviction The reader gradually gets drawn into the settings and develops a feeling for the characters and their struggles and failings without romanticizing them We are all members of one another is a theme driven home in the work through all the stories of isolation, frustration and loneliness The Man With The Golden Arm is slow and difficult but it is an American masterwork I am grateful to the documentary I saw for getting me to read this novel at last.Robin Friedman

  9. says:

    A bleak tale of wretched lives in post WWII Polish Chicago, in the shadow of drug abuse which drug is never exactly stated, heroin maybe The writing occasionally becomes mawkish, bringing to mind Oscar Wilde s line about Little Dorritt All the characters live beyond hope or growth, neglected and just hoping to get by You might read this as social critique, but Algren is mostly content to just wallow in the pathos of it all It does not, of course, end well The writing is stirring in parts, and the plot gets better as it progresses, but it is overall a bit too long There is a film with Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak with a significantly altered plot, which Algren disowned Noir and literary portrayals of inner city lowlifes owe a debt to this book it s hard to imagine the New Yorker of today complaining, as it did then, about the idea that we live in a society whose bums and tramps are better men than the preachers and the politicians and the otherwise respectables Algren led an interesting life, dating Simone de Beauvoir, being blacklisted and vanishing from literary life There is a good recent NYer profile here.

  10. says:

    I have had a beautiful if a tad yellow around the edges used copy of The Man with the Golden Arm sitting on my shelf, unread, for 5 years now Part of me did not want to read it for fear of damaging its aging cover by hauling the book to and fro, and part of me was immensely turned off by his other writings Algren has a tendency to romanticize too much, to assign higher meanings to low functioning people existing in a sub prime city The Man, however, hits on so many universal truths, and does so using such poetical precision that the romanticization of the gritty works Algren s writing is truly flawless, from a stylistic standpoint There is not a wasted line in the entire novel It is a wonder that this book is not talked about , as it should probably be somewhere in the canon of Great American Literature, and I may need to take another look at the rest of Algren s catalogue