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Never a Lovely So Real: The Life and Work of Nelson Algren

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4.71  ·  Rating details ·  34 ratings  ·  10 reviews

This definitive biography reclaims Nelson Algren as a towering literary figure and finally unravels the enigma of his disappearance from American letters.


For a time, Nelson Algren was America’s most famous author, lauded by the likes of Richard Wright and Ernest Hemingway. Millions bought his books. Algren’s third novel, The Man with the Golden Arm, won the first Nationa

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Kindle Edition, 560 pages
Published April 16th 2019 by W. W. Norton & Company
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4.71  · 
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 ·  34 ratings  ·  10 reviews


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Aaron Shulman
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't say this lightly: This book is a masterpiece. It is crisply and addictively written, tenaciously researched, and both generous in spirit and critical in approach. You don't have to be interested in Algren or even know who he is, or be into literary biographies, to love this book. It is the story of a brilliant writer who lived a singular life, but also the story of 20th-century America, with striking relevance to our current moment. Ultimately, this book is about the meaning and purpose ...more
Zachary Kocanda
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book I've read this year.
Mckeage
Jun 02, 2019 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I have read a lot of author's biographies but this one is outstanding. That was clear from the introduction, when Mr. Asher, wrote,"The first you should know about Nelson Algren is that he wrote like this:” That is an absolutely inspired way to begin a biography about an author especially one as singular and underappreciated as Algren has been. The book grabbed my attention and held it all the way through to the equally extraordinary afterword where Mr. Asher talked about how and why Algren is r ...more
Johnny Wimmer
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Never a Lovely So Real" came to us from a Goodreads giveaway, and it's a good book. This dense biographical work covers the life and works of Nelson Algren and is an interesting look at a great writer. Good detail combined with a winning character add to a marvelous story. This book adds scope and dimension to the complexity of a writers life. It tells of the hard tough times, as well as the winning moments in raw detail to enhance the story. Well recommended!
Richard
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I’ve read this year so far. It only lags when Asher expounds on Algren’s writings, especially his longer works; otherwise it is a page turner. Algren was, to say the least, a fascinating and bewildering character with a empathetic heart for the marginalized in society and a keen critique of American consumerism that emerged after WWII and a disdain for elitism. What would he say about our current political situation?
Aimee
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an incredibly detailed account of the life of a fascinating author, Nelson Algren. I haven’t read an Algren novel yet but, after being immersed in his life and learning all about the inspiration for this writing, I’ll definitely pick one up.
Diana
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As thorough a biography of Algren as it's possible to create. Well written and accessible. Must read for anyone interested in Algren's life and work.
Dave Newman
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant!
Alex Kudera
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The biography ends on a sad note, but in it, we learn that Nelson Algren enjoyed a wide variety of successes and failures along the road.
Nora
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: I'm married to the writer.

I have watched Colin pour his heart and mind into this book for seven years and the result is incisive, intelligent and a lot of fun. The somewhat tragic life of Nelson Algren is one worth revisiting in the era of Trump and social media. Algren's literature was political because it was honest and it challenged those in power -- and Algren paid a heavy price. Colin's book is truly the definitive bio of this great American writer.
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