I am reading NEVER A LOVELY SO REAL, The Life and Work of NELSON ALGREN, by Colin Asher, and it has been been riveting, engrossing. Colin Asher is a wonderful writer – concise, descriptive, detailed, passionate about his subject. An incredibly well researched biography – not a genre I commonly gravitate toward – this one has got me. Was drawn to this book by a review I read, even though I have not read any Algren in years, and even then, very little. I am so glad I followed my gut on this one.
Algren was a fascinating man, always embodying the times he lived in. He peeled back the layers to get to a thing’s essence and could do so with just a few beautiful strokes. He battled some demons, struggled often, but was a writer of great truths. So much of what he wrote is still so relevant today it is unsettling. Check this out, these lines written in 1953, describing the US –
Never has any people possessed such a superfluity of physical luxuries companioned by such a dearth of emotional necessities. In no other country is such great wealth, acquired to purposefully, put to such small purpose. Never has any people driven itself so resolutely toward such diverse goals, to derive so little satisfaction from an attainment of any.
All I can say is, yikes!
Besides an in depth portrait of the man, it is also a well researched snapshot of the first 80 years of the 20th century. Really an engrossing read and one I can recommend unequivocally.
4 comments on “NEVER A LOVELY SO REAL”
You write a compelling review. I will read this book. The quote is an amazingly insightful reflection, especially coming out of the 50’s–and so chilling. I may have to wait a bit. I watched “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” (trans gay activist icon who was instrumental in the beginnings of the gay rights movement) recently, and I’m in the middle of DuVernay’s 4 part new film “When They See Us” about the “Central Park 5.” Both films bear witness to the possible horrific consequences of our individual and collective actions. On a more hopeful note, I am also listening to 2 series of talks under the umbrella of The Varella Symposium on the Upaya website. Academics and professionals from a variety of fields, who are also veteran practitioners of meditation, bring their insights on how to think about the world and find new solutions to problems.
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Thanks for sharing this, Julie – another reminder of how little has changed and perhaps only deepened in our roots — I see primal tribal behaviors re-emerging in our country and it is terrifying.
I think I am going to read comic books for summer reading LOL!
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Such great wealth…put to such small purpose.. 1953–and it compounds, of late (it seems) geometrically. What is it for?
Thanks, Julie. I know to pay attention to such an enthusiastic recommendation from you, as much as I’d like to join Borkali at the comic books rack. 🙂
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Yes, it does seem like a geometric progression. It is terrifying, unsettling, heartbreaking.
The comic rack is tempting, to be sure…