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Nonconformity: Writing on Writing
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Nonconformity: Writing on Writing

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  154 ratings  ·  8 reviews
The struggle to write with deep emotion is the subject of this extraordinary book, the previously unpublished credo of one of America's greatest 20th-century writers.
"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," writes Nelson Algren in his only longer work of nonfiction, adding: "A certain ruthlessness and a se
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Published January 4th 2011 by Seven Stories Press (first published June 1st 1996)
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Sara Gran
My favorite book. I own over two thousand books--this is the one I would save in a fire.
How can I strongly recommend a book to which I also gave "three stars"? It's easy: I strongly recommend this book. Bam!

A very brief book, an essay really, wherein he discusses the writer's craft in light of the crisis of McCarthyism going on at the time. This is not what I'd expected, as I expected more of an autobiography of techniques and attitudes toward the writing process. That was my assumption based upon very little information.

It is amazing (and a bit scary) just how applicable his comm
I had to read this a second time for it to fully sink in, and a few of the passages seemed to wander off point, but there's no denying the passion and intellect behind this unique manifesto. Algren decries the hollowness and complacency of mid-Twentieth Century America, and urges writers to look beyond the comfortable mainstream to get at the true heart of the country - the lower classes, the down and out, the marginalized who forever fail to profit from the prosperity of the well-off. Readers o ...more
Darren Stallard
Required reading for anyone who wants to write or to understand the writing process. Excellent essay.
This would have been mind blowing...if I was 15 and it was the era of McCarthyism, but...
A really excellent essay about writing, and more largely about the artist and society. It made me want to read more of Algren's work.
After reading waaaay too much Nelson Algren, I declare this good, but not essential; short at least, but pretty repetitive.
Michael Borshuk
Fearless advice for writers, composed in the perilous context of McCarthy's America, but timeless in its wisdom.
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Born of Swedish-immigrant parents, Nelson Ahlgren Abraham moved at an early age from Detroit to Chicago. At Illinois University he studied journalism. His experiences as a migrant worker during the Depression provided the material for his first novel Somebody in Boots (1935). Throughout his life Algren identified with the American underdog. From 1936 to 1940 (the highpoint of left-wing ideas on th ...more
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“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.” 25 likes
“these will suffice; who knows but we may be on a slope which leads down to
aboriginal savagery. But of this 1 am sure: if we are to escape, we must not yield a foot upon demanding a fair field and an honest race to all ideas.”
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