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Nelson Algren quotes (showing 1-30 of 51)

“Never sleep with someone whose troubles are worse than your own.”
Nelson Algren, A Walk on the Wild Side
“Yet once you've come to be part of this particular patch, you'll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.”
Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make
“Chicago is an October sort of city even in spring.”
Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make
“Any writer who knows what he's doing isn't doing very much.”
Nelson Algren
“You don't write a novel out of sheer pity any more than you blow a safe out of a vague longing to be rich. A certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery.”
Nelson Algren, Nonconformity
“... Chicago divided your heart. Leaving you loving the joint for keeps. Yet knowing it never can love you.”
Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make
“Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom's. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.”
Nelson Algren, A Walk on the Wild Side
“...he said, with sort of a little derisive smile, "How can you walk down the street with all this stuff going on inside you?" I said, "I don't know how you can walk down the street with nothing going on inside you.”
Nelson Algren
“...a city that was to live by night after the wilderness had passed. A city that was to forge out of steel and blood-red neon its own peculiar wilderness.”
Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make
“The great trains howling from track to track all night. The taut and telegraphic murmur of ten thousand city wires, drawn most cruelly against a city sky. The rush of city waters, beneath the city streets. The passionate passing of the night's last El.”
Nelson Algren, Never Come Morning
“And money can't buy everything. For example: poverty.”
Nelson Algren, A Walk on the Wild Side
“A book, a true book, is the writer's confessional. For, whether he would have it so or not, he is betrayed, directly or indirectly, by his characters, into presenting publicly his innermost feelings.”
Nelson Algren, Entrapment and Other Writings
“There's people in hell who want ice water.”
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
“It's the place built out of Man's ceaseless failure to overcome himself. Out of Man's endless war against himself we build our successes as well as our failures. Making it the city of all cities most like Man himself— loneliest creation of all this very old poor earth.”
Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make
“The hard necessity of bringing the judge on the bench down into the dock has been the peculiar responsibility of the writer in all ages of man.”
Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make
“He was falling between glacial walls, he didn't know how anyone could fall so far away from everyone else in the world. So far to fall, so cold all the way, so steep and dark between those morphine-coloured walls...”
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
“There is no way of being a creative writer in America without being a loser.”
Nelson Algren
“When I burn please bury me deep
Somewhere on West Division Street
Put a bottle beneat' my head
'n a bottle beneat' my feet”
Nelson Algren, Never Come Morning
“The Irish 'n Polacks always get along- didn't ya ever notice? Irish 'n Polacks live on p'tatoes 'n got it in for Hitler, that's why they get along so good; all over the world. Never heard of no war between Poland 'n Ireland, did you? No sir, that's cause we're all Cath'lics.”
Nelson Algren, Never Come Morning
“If Jesus Christ treated me like you do, I’d drive in the nails myself.”
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
“To literary critics a book is assumed to be guilty until it proves itself innocent.”
Nelson Algren
“I bet you think fellas are the ones to remember a girl -- don't you?"

He shook his head hurriedly, that he'd always thought that.

"Fellas have all the fun 'n she just sees one right after another, so it seems like HE'D remember her, better 'n SHE'D remember him, only it works the other way around. I ain't forgot one single fella, all these years. But I bet there ain't TWO 'd know me from a big of bananas this minute.”
Nelson Algren, Never Come Morning
“Without hesitation, Dove chose the nowhere road. For that was the only place, in his heart of hearts, that he really wanted to go.”
Nelson Algren, A Walk on the Wild Side
“The devil lives in a double-shot", Roman explains himself obscurely. "I got a great worm inside. Gnaws and gnaws. Every day I drown him and every day he gnaws. Help me drown the worm, fellas.”
Nelson Algren, The Neon Wilderness
“As certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery.”
Nelson Algren
“Our myths are so many, our vision so dim, our self-deception so deep and our smugness so gross that scarcely any way now remains of reporting the American Century except from behind the billboards ...”
Nelson Algren
“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.”
Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make
“The farther away you get from the literary traffic, the closer you are to sources.”
Nelson Algren
“The less he sees of other writers the more of a writer he will ultimately become. When he sees scarcely anyone except other writers, he is ready for New York.”
Nelson Algren
“If you feel you belong to things as they are, you won’t hold up anyone in the alley no matter how hungry you may get. And you won’t write anything that anyone will read a second time either.”
Nelson Algren

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