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Nelson Algren Take A Walk On The Wild Side

author
Carole Stephens
• Monday, 21 June, 2021
• 14 min read

Windows Phone A Walk on the Wildlife Author NelsonAlgren CountryUnited StatesLanguageEnglishPublisher Farrah, Strauss and Judah 1956Media blueprint (hardback & paperback)Pages346 pp.

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Contents

It is most often quoted for Algren's “three rules of life”: “Never play cards with a man called Doc. Fitz Link horn barely managed to make a living pumping out cesspools, but his consuming vocation was “Born Again” preaching from the courthouse steps in 1930 Arroyo, Texas; it was a small, mostly Hispanic, and heavily Catholic town in the Rio Grande Valley.

Dove had no education because his father had not wanted to send him to a school with a Catholic principal (And what else could there have been in Arroyo?). Instead, he was supposed to see movies with Byron to learn about life, but Dove never got to go; his brother did not have the price of a ticket.

Dove began hanging around the La Fe en Dies chili parlor in the ruins of the Hotel Crockett on the other side of town. The hotel was closed, but the seldom-visited café was run by Teresina Vidavarri, a wary woman traumatized by her marriage, aged sixteen, with a middle-aged ex-soldier who raped her with a swagger stick on their wedding night.

Dove took up with a girl named Kitty Twist, a runaway from a children's home, and saved her life when she was about to fall under the wheels of a train. In the port city, with its many influences and cultures, Dove experienced his most interesting adventures.

He worked as a painter on a steamship (but did not paint anything), fooled a prostitute who was trying to rob him, sold coffeepots and “beauty certificates” (which supposedly entitled the bearer to a treatment at a beauty shop) while seducing the women to whom he was selling, and, in his most memorable escapade, worked in a condom factory. The condoms, which were called O-Daddies and bore interesting names and colors, were made in a house by a mom-and-pop firm, Velma and Rhino Gross.

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Dove's lengthiest stay was with the people who inhabited the twin worlds of Oliver Finery's brothel and Doc Dockery's speakeasy. In the brothel he found, in addition to his old friend Kitty Twist, who had become a prostitute, Hallie Breedlove, a onetime schoolteacher who was the star of Finery's string of girls.

Hallie, who still retained vestiges of her former life as a teacher, was interested in Dove's mind and helped him to continue to learn to read. Dove spent five months in jail with the colorful petty criminals of “Tank Ten”.

Walk on the Wildlife is set in Per dido Street in the old French Quarter of depression-era New Orleans. With its depictions of an array of prostitutes, bootleggers, and hustlers, it is wild, but also warm, passionate, edgy, angry, funny.

With its depictions of an array of prostitutes, bootleggers, and hustlers, it is wild, but also warm, passionate, edgy, angry, funny. Walk on the Wildlife is the story of Dove Link horn, a wild and naïve and cocky 16-year-old from a small Texas town who finds his way to New Orleans.

Tacks back and forth between black humor and despair, with tolerance for all manner of individuals, a kind of moral map for democracy. “To this lopsided shambles owned by this unlicensed ghost, this speakeasy spook who had been alive once but died in the crash and was now only haunting the thirties, came trudging, some uphill and some down, all those who could not admit that the money was spent, the dream was over; the magic done.

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I'd known of him for a long time, but my primary interest in him was his connection to Simone de Beauvoir as her lover. Following her trail I'd read their published letters and then, early this year, the Agree biography by Mary Winiowski.

I'd known of him for a long time, but my primary interest in him was his connection to Simone de Beauvoir as her lover. Following her trail I'd read their published letters and then, early this year, the Agree biography by Mary Winiowski.

This is most apparent in the opening scenes in Texas, where Dove Link horn's story begins. Agree wrote a novel about people scraping by in the hardscrabble underbelly of Per dido Street in New Orleans in the early years of the Great Depression.

Business on Per dido consists of bars, the counterfeit love of prostitutes, door-to-door scams, and bootlegging. The industry of the street is a mom-and-pop condom factory, where Dove works for a time.

But where Hazel Motes saw only emptiness, Dove's vision of everlasting promise serves to remind us these characters are at least God's creatures. The bruised romantic's Bible: a sagacious tale of melancholy closeness underpinned by a fundamental, indubitable sense of something transcendentally positive underlying that hell.

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Fun fact: Lou Reed was approached, in 1970, in relation to a project that was to turn this book into a musical. The book (and Agree) seem to have a longer half-life in down-and-out, wounded, sentimental rock music than in literature departments and the general literary fiction circle, which would seem odd but for the book's enduring underdog sensibility, a perfect match for the likes of The Hold Steady's Craig Finn, among others, whose lyrical, complex tales of “lost people” bring Agree sharply to mind.

It would seem that Algren's name no longer rings in the counter culture lit canon the way that writers like Kerouac, Hunter S Thompson, Hubert Shelby Jr, Murkowski, Pynchon and Burroughs do though you can find elements of all these writers by chance or by influence in Walk On The Wildlife. Where some other more famous touchstones of Beat and Post Modern lit show some aging and wear and tear in the overall quality and depth of the work now that the explosion and fan fare of their historical literary moment is beginning to settle, Algren's great work remains a knock out and shamefully under-celebrated.

A great story, experimentation with flow and form, timeless characters in hallucinatory technicolor, all executed by a master's hand. This is rich, colorful, underground, funky, twisted stuff, and it's a beautiful blast to get inside.

From my point of view it is a novel about the depression that is an amalgam of Grapes of Wrath and Confederacy of Dunces. Dove Link horn ought to be mentioned in the same breath as quintessential American heroes such as Huckleberry Finn, Holden Caulfield, Dean Moriarty, Jay Gatsby, and the like.

For what it is worth and if you are interested in pursuing this further you can find a spirited and enthusiastic discussion of the book here. NelsonAlgren's novel relates the adventures of Dove Link horn, an illiterate young man who leaves poverty and a failed love affair behind him to wander the countryside.

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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. NelsonAlgren's novel relates the adventures of Dove Link horn, 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. 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. His characters are extreme types living on the fringe of society, but Agree makes them come alive.

Pimps, prostitutes, alcoholics, thieves, drug addicts, drifters, abortionists, scam artists, barflies. Agree wrote about the kinds people and places that he knew best and his work reads like dark poetry.

Pimps, prostitutes, alcoholics, thieves, drug addicts, drifters, abortionists, scam artists, barflies. Agree wrote about the kinds people and places that he knew best and his work reads like dark poetry.

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I put this one off for a long time, knowing it was Algren's most popular, but then I kept encountering references to it involving Hunter Thompson. A brilliant feat of modernism, like a cross between Grapes of Wrath and Naked Lunch. I put this one off for a long time, knowing it was Algren's most popular, but then I kept encountering references to it involving Hunter Thompson.

A brilliant feat of modernism, like a cross between Grapes of Wrath and Naked Lunch. In my utopia, Hemingway would have never made his way into the canon of great American literature, and NelsonAlgren would be at the top of the heap.

In my utopia, Hemingway would have never made his way into the canon of great American literature, and NelsonAlgren would be at the top of the heap. Agree had an ear for the poetry of regional all speech and the wisdom of the uneducated. The events of the story may depict an ugly part of society but the language is just So Beautiful.

Agree had an ear for the poetry of regional all speech and the wisdom of the uneducated. The events of the story may depict an ugly part of society but the language is just So Beautiful. This 1956 novel follows a down on his luck man as he wanders the street, tries to make it in America, and doesn’t quite know what happens when you’ve already fallen through the cracks and are seeking a life with dignity and purpose in a world that ultimately doesn’t care if you live or die.

This 1956 novel follows a down on his luck man as he wanders the street, tries to make it in America, and doesn’t quite know what happens when you’ve already fallen through the cracks and are seeking a life with dignity and purpose in a world that ultimately doesn’t care if you live or die. But the vernacular in this book is so affected at times that I honestly can’t tell how good it is (though I am thinking it’s quite good) but at the same time, I did not enjoy reading it much and didn’t feel super strong connections to the world being narrated in this story.

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Algren's characters are compelling, and it seems he has a genuine fondness for these hapless creatures. Algren's characters are compelling, and it seems he has a genuine fondness for these hapless creatures.

He's definitely skilled, and attuned to the bittersweet, to the chasm that occurs between feelings and behavior, especially when it comes to romance or dalliance, and perhaps especially with the down-and-out and poor. He's definitely skilled, and attuned to the bittersweet, to the chasm that occurs between feelings and behavior, especially when it comes to romance or dalliance, and perhaps especially with the down-and-out and poor.

Agree rides a fine line, as if it's simply his element, the stuff he breathes, and he places us right there, in the dried dirt of Texas and anything-goes New Orleans during the great depression, amidst the bars and whorehouses and poverty-stricken streets. Some passages and scenes are just perfectly expressed, and his penchant for rhyming words is a kick.

We follow the insane adventures--misadventures--of Dove Link horn, a red-neck illiterate from Aurora, Texas, by rail. Dove can't stand up under the weight of his success, however, and is well on his way to the gutter via the bottle.

He is saved by an octoroon beauty, Hallie, who goes into hiding with Dove, and among other things teaches him to read. A cat name of Schmidt who has one leg off at the knee, the other one off at the hip, and gets around right fine on a flat-board scooter he straps himself onto.

Before he lost his legs, Schmidt had been an awesome athlete who was employed as a stooge in a wrestling team making decent dough. Schmidt still has enormous strength in his shoulders and arms, and is feared from one end of old Per dido Street to the other.

He does find Dove, however, in Dockery's Dollhouse, a saloon that bills itself as the last speakeasy in the country. A fellow by name of E. Hemingway--who'n hell is he?--claims that Agree is a man's writer, plus a few more words that I'll not bother to go into here.

A WALK ON THE WILDS IDE, by one of the most outstanding novelists of the 20th century, NelsonAlgren, is another amazing example of his inimitable style. Here he follows illiterate Dove, a teenager from an outback town, to depression-era Louisiana (last century’s depression, not the current one).

He ends up on Per dido Street, a part of New Orleans where prostitutes, the disabled, drunks, and cons mingled. This is a critique on the unfairness of the wealth distribution in this country which continua WALK ON THE WILDS IDE, by one of the most outstanding novelists of the 20th century, NelsonAlgren, is another amazing example of his inimitable style. Here he follows illiterate Dove, a teenager from an outback town, to depression-era Louisiana (last century’s depression, not the current one).

He ends up on Per dido Street, a part of New Orleans where prostitutes, the disabled, drunks, and cons mingled. This is a critique on the unfairness of the wealth distribution in this country which continues to this day. A time of “Self-reliance for the penniless and government aid for those who already had more than they could use...” Algren’s style in this book is fabulous, sometimes sing-song rhyme, sometimes slow and wistful, with a southern drawl.

“To this lopsided shambles owned by this unlicensed ghost, this speakeasy spook who had been alive once but died in the crash and was now only haunting the thirties, came trudging, some uphill and some down, all those who could not admit that the money was spent, the dream was over; the magic done. “…when he saw men encircling someone or something down the street he hurried there as fast as his butter-colored shoes could make steps……a little round man with something glistening in his hand.

Bet you make right good caw fee.“The idea ain't to see how many doors you can rap of a morning-THAT ain't selling’…” I had me a caw fee pot like you, caw fee pot, I’d know where to get the chicory for you.” Heed the housewife’s woes, boys. You work with me…” A WALK ON THE WILDS IDE examines exceptionally well the existence of some truly poor during the early 1930s and I recommend it highly.

I hear of the current events of these fascinating cities, and I’m happy I picked this one about Nola, so I know some good history. A story encompassing midget pimps, legless former circus strongmen, Southern aristocrats suffering from “black mammy syndrome,” conniving door-to-door salesmen, prostitutes, hustlers, runaways named Kitty Twist, the sane, the insane, the homeless, the insane sane homeless masquerading as eighteenth century admirals, and condom factories.

A story encompassing midget pimps, legless former circus strongmen, Southern aristocrats suffering from “black mammy syndrome,” conniving door-to-door salesmen, prostitutes, hustlers, runaways named Kitty Twist, the sane, the insane, the homeless, the insane sane homeless masquerading as eighteenth century admirals, and condom factories. But when it works, when it flows naturally, his language of pimps, prostitutes, and Prohibition (one tries anyway), which relates the story of Dove Link horn, a naïve 16-year-old from a tiny Texas town who finds his way to New Orleans, is unlike any other before or since.

Algren's story of the Depression-era New Orleans underworld is riveting--not only for its depictions of prostitutes, pimps, junkies, and conman, but because of the enigmatic protagonist. Dove Link horn is a paradoxical figure, at once seemingly ignorant and yet strangely talented.

Dove is gifted with an unrealistic sexual capacity and a natural talent for math, yet his identity remains incomplete based on his illiteracy. A really great work from a now underestimated writer. Algren's story of the Depression-era New Orleans underworld is riveting--not only for its depictions of prostitutes, pimps, junkies, and conman, but because of the enigmatic protagonist.

Dove Link horn is a paradoxical figure, at once seemingly ignorant and yet strangely talented. Dove is gifted with an unrealistic sexual capacity and a natural talent for math, yet his identity remains incomplete based on his illiteracy. What's really very interesting about this novel is the thematic death drive return to the site of trauma.

Dove rapes his first love, thus symbolically cutting himself off from the world she represents (i.e., the attempt to complete his identity through reading). After leaving her he eventually becomes a peep show performer, acting out scenes of rape and sexual violence--thus recreating the site of his trauma.

Only when he is able to return to his first love, having learned to read and then been blinded in a bar fight, is there hope for Dove's redemption. Reading NelsonAlgren for the first time, about 4 years ago, made me want to quit trying to write because the man perfected it.

I picked this up on the basis of the famous title and on the credentials which were pointing to NelsonAlgren as the forefather of Ken Mesa and Joseph Heller (whose Catch 22 I haven't managed to read), as the writer for the underdog. I didn't quite realize how tricky a read it was going to be to follow the disjointed story with the narrative style jumping around, loosely following the main character, Dove, waving and rolling in a gutter-style lyricism.

I didn't quite realize how tricky a read it was going to be to follow the disjointed story with the narrative style jumping around, loosely following the main character, Dove, waving and rolling in a gutter-style lyricism. New Orleans has always had a reputation for sleaze and funk and sweat and danger; into NOLA comes an illiterate bumpkin with no shoes, few morals, a father who scratches a living from fundamentalist preaching and racial enmity towards anyone who isn't white and Protestant and an urgent need to flee his one-horse town.

There's little to admire apart from his resilience and much to dislike. The passages in NO are focused on the lost souls, drunks, damaged, fifths was absorbing but grueling too. New Orleans has always had a reputation for sleaze and funk and sweat and danger; into NOLA comes an illiterate bumpkin with no shoes, few morals, a father who scratches a living from fundamentalist preaching and racial enmity towards anyone who isn't white and Protestant and an urgent need to flee his one-horse town.

There's little to admire apart from his resilience and much to dislike. The passages in NO are focused on the lost souls, drunks, damaged, misfits, pimps and whores who inhabit the underworld and dwell, pretty much in poverty. There's sex, violence, betrayal and pretty much every variety of human folly and failure.

If you imagine that John Steinbeck had toured Soho with Shane McGowan and lost all hope for human redemption, then found himself in New Orleans trying to find sympathy for the desperate wretches of that city, he might have written this. The bad: I couldn't find a single character in this book that I liked enough, or even found sympathetic enough, to care about.

They all seemed despicable to me- sleazy, dishonest drifters with no loyalty to anyone or anything other than the next quick buck or their next fix- and I really didn't care what happened to them one way or another, so it made it kind of trudge to get Thai wish I could give 2.5 stars... The bad: I couldn't find a single character in this book that I liked enough, or even found sympathetic enough, to care about.

They all seemed despicable to me- sleazy, dishonest drifters with no loyalty to anyone or anything other than the next quick buck or their next fix- and I really didn't care what happened to them one way or another, so it made it kind of trudge to get through the book. Because of the writing, I will try other Agree books- Never Come Morning, perhaps, will be next- but unless the characters are less despicable than they are in this book, I won't get far.

While it’s so rooted in anachronistic dialects of Depression era American South that it becomes occasionally incomprehensible, it’s so beautifully written that you can just fall into it. The speech and slang becomes its chief charm, and it delves deeper into a people than Steinbeck’s wrathful grapes.

While it’s so rooted in anachronistic dialects of Depression era American South that it becomes occasionally incomprehensible, it’s so beautifully written that you can just fall into it. The speech and slang becomes its chief charm, and it delves deeper into a people than Steinbeck’s wrathful grapes.

This is a snapshot of the drifters, prostitutes and pimps riding the rails trying to make enough to live off. Despite the filth and the dishonesty, there's a real theme of honor amongst thieves running throughout, with Agree pointing out on several occasions that it's the people with nothing who are the most likely to help you.

This is a snapshot of the drifters, prostitutes and pimps riding the rails trying to make enough to live off. Despite the filth and the dishonesty, there's a real theme of honor amongst thieves running throughout, with Agree pointing out on several occasions that it's the people with nothing who are the most likely to help you.

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3 www.imdb.com - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4891288/
4 biographyscoop.com - https://biographyscoop.com/kristine-leahy/
5 heavy.com - https://heavy.com/entertainment/2019/05/american-ninja-warrior-2019-hosts-cast/
6 www.americanninjawarriornation.com - https://www.americanninjawarriornation.com/2019/3/5/18250636/american-ninja-warrior-season-11-2019-new-sideline-reporter-zuri-hall