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Never Come Morning

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  465 ratings  ·  42 reviews
"An unusual book and a brilliant book." —The New York Times

"One of the finest works of American literature that I have read." —James T. Farrell

"A knockout." —Saturday Review of Literature

"Never Come Morning depicts the intensity of feeling, the tawdry but potent dreams, the crude but forceful poetry, and the frustrated longing for human dignity residing in the lives of the
Paperback, 310 pages
Published November 5th 2002 by Seven Stories Press (first published 1942)
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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  465 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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David Schaafsma
Edited update 5/8/18

I am so glad I finally read the classic Chicago novel by once famous Chicago realist writer Algren, who once was touted by fellow Chicago writer Ernest Hemingway as one of the two best Chicago writers ever. This is technically (as I learned, not from my own reading) his second novel, the first being a book influenced by his connections with John Reed, Marxist ideology, and Communism, and the book (I am told) reads like a diatribe, filled with quasi-Marxist slams on capitalism
J.K. Grice
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A gritty look at the underside of mid-2oth century Chicago. Algren was a talented writer.
Aug 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book ever written about Chicago. Maybe the most brutal book ever read either.
Jason Pettus
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
(This is part 2 of a special 14-part essay series I'm writing this year, examining in detail nearly the entire ouevre of controversial Chicago author Nelson Algren, on the occasion of his 100th birthday. For an introduction to this series, as well as links to all the other essays, you can click here for the special page at the CCLaP website.)

As any artist who's gone through the experience can tell you, it can be humiliating to be publicly spanked for a high-profile yet deeply flawed project from
Lara Neel
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I have no idea why Algren isn't as famous as Hemingway. His prose is as heartbreakingly gorgeous and well-constructed.
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am still processing the ending, as I just finished it four minutes ago, but I think I was fairly pleased with the novel. I will write more about it after I have time to reflect more, but it ended perfectly.

Edit - After months, perhaps I can express my opinions on this novel:

Basically, if you are looking for a beautiful story about Polish American's living in Chicago that makes the reader feel optimistic about society, do not read this book. If you want a gritty, realistic, noir like compendium
Ben Richmond
May 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patrick Healy
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Patrick by: Will Oldham was talking about it in an interview I read in some
Incredible book- Bicek's life in Chicago as a down and out boxer was really inspiring to me. I want to reread it. I read this when I was in high school.
I am a proud bannerman for Nelson Algren, forgotten titan of American naturalism, proud prairie radical, and a man who could probably out-Hemingway Hemingway in terms of dipsomania and arrogance. Of Algren's novels that I've read, though, Never Come Morning is far and away the weakest. Perhaps it's because it's an early work, but there's none of the rapturous prose of The Man With the Golden Arm or Walk on the Wild Side. Stick to those two, and while you're around, read Dos Passos, Dreiser, and ...more
May 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookgroups
I read this for book group. I'm glad we picked something out of my comfort zone and that I've read something by Nelson Algren. Can't say that I'll read anything else by this author.

The main characters are young people in West Chicago in around the 1940's. They have no clear way to improve their lot in life and scramble to try to get connections to aldermen, chances to fight in boxing matches and any other leg up. In this group there are no redeemable characters. The women are used and only maint
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant study of hope in a hopeless neighborhood. It's about teenagers who have no real choices making bad decisions, and then worse decisions, based on pride, fear, guilt and the belief that they'll never escape. It isn't warm and fuzzy. It is real.
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Incredible piece of work. The humanity and the voices of the poor in a world of suffering. The callousness that a life can bring out in us all and yet the hunted still hope.
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Yet another stunningly beautiful novel by Algren. He writes about the underbelly of society like Fitzgerald writes about the upper crust.
May 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Found this book in an antique store, it was two bucks, set in the Nineteen-Forties ( a favorite time period of mine), and proclaimed itself "TEEN-AGE TRAGEDY! The Great Novel of JUVENILE DELINQUENCY." Well, I had to buy it.

Wasn't sure I wanted to read it, but then there was the fact that the author was Nelson Algren and he'd later become the first National Book Award winner, and the book had sold over one million copies by 1952.

A bit of a tough read: Within three-months the seventeen year-old
Lewis Burik
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It hurt, it hurt, it hurt, and then it was over. Characters that will stay in your brain for a long time, this is Algren in his Algren-est form.
Jim Davis
May 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
DNF. I didn't like the writing style.
B. Cheng
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great chronicle of the down and dirty elements of Chicago around midcentury, I've enjoyed all the Algren books I've read.
Peter Tavolacci
I went through this pretty quickly, and will edit and add to it later. I hope y'all enjoy the book.

I was interested in this novel before turning the first page. Honestly, I loved the cover. I figured that if the novel was nearly as honest, tough, unforgiving, and noir as the photograph of Algren smoking, I would enjoy the read. I had heard from folks involved in UIC’s English department that Algren was a fantastic writer, and was intrigued in hearing that his readership had fallen off since the
Mar 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ng-bookclub
This book was okay. I never really cared for the main character. It was noted by the author in a new preface for this edition that the book was banned from the Chicago Public Library for around 20 years because the Polish community was offended by the characters that were portrayed in the story. It’s very likely that’s how it was back then and those that were protesting were just trying to hide the reality. They accused the author of being in league with the Germans and traitorous Poles (the boo ...more
May 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
It took me a while to read this book due to other life distractions, but in the couple hours where I could sit down and read it, I was hooked. What struck me most was the dialogue; Algren brings to life the Chicago accent and dialect beautifully. Since my family all comes from the Southside, and I spent most of my childhood enamored with those neighborhoods, even the time barrier seemed insignificant as I read the descriptions of Oak Street Beach and the 'av'noo.' Good stuff. One of those books ...more
ennui waves
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: live-nude-books
Published by Seven Stories Press, introduction written by Kurt Vonnegut, endorsed by both Richard Wright and Ernest Hemingway . . . what more do you need to proceed? If you're searching for the apex of American urban realism, look no further. Algren has it in spades. A writer of true power and compassion who, throughout his career, shined a light on the humanity of the downtrodden despite actions that would seem to communicate otherwise. Because of this, Algren's writing will always have a certa ...more
Rick Homuth
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Algren's first novel is less ethereal than the other stuff of his that I've read, with what is (in my opinion) more of a concrete, linear, novel-like story, but with just enough of his poignant lyricism to keep me looking up from the book every few pages just to stare into the distance and say "Fuuuuuuuuck" to myself.
Mor Fleisher-Leach
Sep 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books around. Algren has a way of discribing his characters' actions and surroundings in such a realistic and tantelizing way, one has to read it to understand.

If you like Polish immigrants in America, Chicago, boxing, & a damned good story, pick this one up.
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Poor Lefty made all the wrong decisions in life. This is a stark view of what life might have been like for a Polish immigrant in the late 30s. I'd classify it as a tragedy, but an interesting historically based story.
Jun 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
writing shows a true, unadorned understanding of the subject and the lives and society he is depicting. Nothing Didactic about it, unsettling and grim, but that's how it is, its not written for a calculated shock--that's key.
Aug 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Not Algren's best but still Algren. What I mean to say is that the story wasn't the best story I ever read but Algren's style, the dialogue, the prose, the pacing are all as good as any of his other books. I just thought the story itself was... Eh.
Sam Fletcher
Jan 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Normally it doesn't take me long to become interested in a novel, but for some reason that never happened. I was bored. Even though I live in Chicago, I found myself never connecting with any scenes, characters, etc.
justin louie
Sep 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
4 for the story, +1 for the interview at the end of this edition
Bill Hice
May 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Good intro to Algren.
Aug 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
He just keeps making all the wrong decisions, and OH NO! don't do that, and ah jeez, YIKES, and oh man!
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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
“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.” 17 likes
“When I burn please bury me deep
Somewhere on West Division Street
Put a bottle beneat' my head
'n a bottle beneat' my feet”
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