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A Walk on the Wild Side

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really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  914 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
With its depiction of the downtrodden prostitutes, bootleggers, and hustlers of Perdido Street in the old French Quarter of 1930s New Orleans, A Walk on the Wild Side found a place in the imagination of all the generations that have followed since. As Algren admitted, it wasn't written until long after it had been walked... I found my way to the streets on the other side o ...more
Paperback, 346 pages
Published June 24th 1998 by The Noonday Press (first published 1956)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,347)
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Teresa
Nov 12, 2015 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...um homem que escreve e que não deve ser lido por quem não aguenta um murro. O Sr. Algren ataca com ambas as mãos, cerca-nos e mata-nos se não formos incrivelmente cuidadosos."
Ernest Hemingway

Não me matou mas deixou-me com cicatrizes...

Comprei este livro por duas razões:
1. Porque foi escrito em 1956...
2. Porque Sartre sofreu com o envolvimento de Simone de Beauvoir com Algren. E, depois de chegar ao fim deste Romance, posso afirmar que a minha lógica estava certa: Nelson Algren era Especial.

D
...more
João Carlos
Nov 21, 2015 João Carlos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l2015

Nelson Algren (1909 – 1981)

”Vidas Perdidas” no original ”A Walk On The Wild Side” é um romance do escritor norte-americano Nelson Algren (1909 – 1981) publicado em 1956.
Nelson Algren é referenciado como um dos escritores mais original no panorama literário norte-americano, premiado com o “National Book Award” em 1949 com o romance ”The Man with the Golden Arm”; com uma vida recheada de problemas, com o jogo, com casamentos desastrosos, com a pobreza, com a prisão por roubo e pela relação amoros
...more
Stephen
Oct 10, 2009 Stephen rated it it was amazing
HEADLINE: Lost American classic rediscovered by me!

How in the world did this American classic come to fall through the cracks? And why? From my point of view it is a novel about the depression that is an amalgam of Grapes of Wrath and Confederacy of Dunces. It is Grapes of Wrath with a profound sense of black humor. And it has sex.

Dove Linkhorn ought to be mentioned in the same breath as quintessential American heroes such as Huckleberry Finn, Holden Caulfield, Dean Moriarity, Jay Gatsby, and t
...more
Adam
Jan 20, 2012 Adam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1900-1969, prose
The bruised romantic's Bible: a sagacious tale of melancholy lostness underpinned by a fundamental, indubitable sense of something transcendentally positive underlying that hell.

Algren himself described it almost perfectly when he said: "the book asks why lost people sometimes develop into greater human beings than those who have never been lost in their whole lives. Why men who have suffered at the hands of other men are the natural believers in humanity, while those whose part has been simply
...more
Brian Engelhardt
Aug 07, 2007 Brian Engelhardt rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable! Pimps, prostitutes, alcoholics, thieves, drug addicts, drifters, abortionists, scam artists, barflies. . . every down-and-out person you're ever likely to meet is in here. Algren wrote about the kinds people and places that he knew best and his work reads like dark poetry. An amazing command of the English language!
Ethan Miller
Nov 19, 2012 Ethan Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing and beautiful ride! 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 Selby Jr, Bukowski, Pynchon and Burroughs do though you can find elements of all these writers by chance or by influence in Walk On The Wild Side. WOTWS is surely one of the great well springs from which tales of the American underbelly, druggy lit, road lit and even gonzo and many aspects of post modern writing would flow f ...more
David Bonesteel
Jun 16, 2013 David Bonesteel rated it it was amazing
Nelson Algren's novel relates the adventures of Dove Linkhorn, 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. The real star of this novel, however, is Algren's prose. Hemingway himself felt that Algren was
...more
Reid
Jun 20, 2015 Reid rated it really liked it
I owe Algren a review. 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. The sympathy comes across, but it feels not as if it's the narrator's sympathy, but only our own. Algren 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 Or ...more
Phillip
Jul 28, 2011 Phillip rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20th-century
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 conmen, but because of the enigmatic protagonist. Dove Linkhorn 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 inte
...more
Greg Deane
Nov 14, 2012 Greg Deane rated it really liked it
A Walk on the Wild Side is a particularly dark and hopeless book, where the voyeuristic prurience deprives any pleasurable intimacy that provides a glimmer of loving redemption to any of the characters. Even on those occasions when there is a half promise of stolen happiness, the baseness and fears of the characters destroys their improbable aspirations. Similarly, the struggle for economic survival, of dignity through work, or even belief in God, is cruelly abnegated at each turn.

Being set amon
...more
Ryan Holiday
Jul 05, 2012 Ryan Holiday rated it really liked it
A story about the old French Quarter and New Orleans of the 1930s. 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 of delicate depth and one of those novels that works best when viewed as a whole. The ...more
Jerod Duris
Aug 11, 2014 Jerod Duris rated it it was amazing
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. It is clearly the most outstanding of the 4-5 Algren books I've read. A brilliant feat of modernism, like a cross between Grapes of Wrath and Naked Lunch.
Julie
Feb 06, 2016 Julie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible
I can't remember the last time I read something so beautifully written. Algren had an ear for the poetry of regional al 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. I couldn't put it down.
Anne Simpson
May 04, 2013 Anne Simpson rated it liked it
Though the writing is very impressive - descriptive, ironic, poetic, I couldn't get into the story because none of the characters is developed enough for me to care much about them. It felt long and repetitious. Many of the characters seemed like caricatures rather than real people. Dove Linkhorn, the main character, was some what sympathetic though not entirely, as he often contributed to his own situation.
Victor Giron
Nov 12, 2010 Victor Giron rated it it was amazing
Reading Nelson Algren for the first time, about 4 years ago, made me want to quit trying to write because the man perfected it. Talk about combining prose and poetry. And the characters he creates are unbelieveable. But I kept going understanding that I'd always be inferior, and that's ok, to be inerior to Nelson Algren, it's more than just ok.
Elliott
"And the coloured girls say

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
doo"

Marilyn Moreau
Mar 03, 2014 Marilyn Moreau rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
If you like your characters damaged and your prose poetic, this is the book for you. No author does it better.
David H
Oct 14, 2015 David H rated it liked it
A mixed bag for me. The style is great and the depiction of the downtrodden and the victims is raw and visceral. Best lines in the book: When we get more houses than we can live in, more cars than we can ride in, more food than we can eat ourselves, the only way of getting richer is cutting off those who do not have enough. If everyone has more than enough what good is my more than enough? What good is a wide meadow open to everyone? It isn't until the others are fenced out that the open pasture ...more
David B
Dec 22, 2013 David B rated it it was amazing
Nelson Algren's novel relates the adventures of Dove Linkhorn, 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. The real star of this novel, however, is Algren's prose. Hemingway himself felt that Algren was
...more
Marian Deegan
Aug 28, 2014 Marian Deegan rated it it was ok
I believe this was supposed to be Algren's masterpiece, but don't quote me on that. If you are a Grapes of Wrath fan, this should be on your reading list. Algren was a champion of the poor, the desperate, and the downtrodden; he writes a powerful novel.

But me, I'm with Carol Shields. I can grit through miles of despair, but I'm always looking for that alternative hopeful course. Algren, perhaps realistically, doesn't find that brighter path.

It's not narrative crumble, but I found it a tough re
...more
Sumner Wilson
Apr 14, 2013 Sumner Wilson rated it it was amazing
What did I think? Thought it was great.

A Walk on the Wild Side by Nelson Algren is a crazy rollick through New Orleans in 1930-'31, in that era. Published in '56. Crest books reprinted it in paperback in '62.

We follow the insane adventures--misadventures--of Dove Linkhorn, a red-neck illiterate from Aurora, Texas, by rail. Freight, that is, in boxcars he jumps on his way out of town. He splits from Aurora because of a fall from grace from the gal he falls in love with, Terasina, his employer.
...more
Michael
Dove Linkhorn, son of a preacher, is an uneducated sixteen year old on the Texas Mexican border. He asis a Mexican waitress, Terasina, to teach him to read the Sunday papers. He does mechanical work for truckers who stop at the restaurant and is so green that after doing lengthy work for one trucker, when asked his price, Dove gives such a low figure that Terasina corrects him. She tells the trucker a more realistic price and reminds him to give the boy a tip.

The novel describes the hard times t
...more
John Defrog
Nov 03, 2013 John Defrog rated it really liked it
By the strangest coincidence, I was in the middle of reading this when Lou Reed passed away. Of course the book inspired Reed’s song of the same name, which is part of the reason I picked it up. The other reason, though, was Hunter S Thompson’s reference to it in Hell’s Angels – taking Algren’s description of the Linkhorns as the metaphorical origin of nomadic American white trash, and suggesting that the Hell’s Angels were the logical extension of that lineage. Anyway, the book chronicles the a ...more
Stephanie Griffin
Nov 23, 2011 Stephanie Griffin rated it really liked it
A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, by one of the most outstanding novelists of the 20th century, Nelson Algren, 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 Perdido 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 contin
...more
Graham
Oct 20, 2011 Graham rated it really liked it
As a small rating note, I wish we could give half-stars. I feel like this was a little better than a 3, but not quite a 4. Still pretty great though.

But technical details aside, "Walk On The Wild Side" is an excellent portrayal of the seamier underbelly of Depression-era America. Prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts, and thieves all intermingle in what often appears as a mirror-image of a conventional society that is only occasionally interacted with, and in those circumstances only long enough to c
...more
Downward
Jun 09, 2013 Downward rated it really liked it
nelson algren lays a breadcrumb trail of three main characters (dove, a simple-minded wanderer; oliver finnerty, a pimp; and schmidt, a crippled wrestler) to lead us through new orleans in the early thirties. the book can be divided into roughly three sections: dove's wanderings; the brothel; and dove in prison. the characters tie together at the brothel, and their interactions with each other (and with the prostitutes) are at the same time comical and harrowing: the actions and dialogue are car ...more
Wm Willemstyn
Sep 22, 2015 Wm Willemstyn rated it it was amazing
But blow wise to this, buddy, blow wise to this: Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat a place called Mom’s. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own. Never let nobody talk you into shaking another man’s jolt. And never you cop another man’s plea. I’ve tried ‘em all and I know. They don’t work.
Life is hard by the yard, son. But you don’t have to do it by the yard. By the inch it’s a cinch. And money can’t buy everything. For example: poverty.
Harry
Jul 27, 2014 Harry rated it it was ok
Shelves: misc-fiction
The writing was good but the subject was depressing and all the characters were sad. I suppose when a writer accurately depicts a time and can write in a style that matches his characters it should be considered great but I gave up after a couple hundred pages of the depression.
Christopher Flynn
Mar 13, 2008 Christopher Flynn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20th-century, novel
This book meant a lot to me a long time ago. It's an intensely written, sardonic, cynical, angry and lyrical book. All of those things, not necessarily in that order. It was the type of book I needed back then, or at least that I felt drawn to.

The voice is intense and fully realized, which is a great thing in a novel (obviously). The voice is more important than the plot, which I hardly remember at this point. Sort of like On the Road if Kerouac had written instead of typed. I think that's a pa
...more
Katy
May 15, 2015 Katy rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
If you want to read a book about down and out people who treat each other poorly, this may be the book for you. It's only redeeming quality is the author's beautiful use of language. Otherwise, it was too unrelentingly negative for me.
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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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“Never sleep with someone whose troubles are worse than your own.” 109 likes
“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.” 27 likes
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