Entrapment and Other Writings
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Nelson Algren sought humanity in the urban wilderness of postwar America, where his powerful voice rose from behind the billboards and down tin-can alleys, from among the marginalized and ignored, the outcasts and scapegoats, the punks and junkies, the whores and down-on-their luck gamblers, the punch-drunk boxers and skid-row drunkies and kids who knew they'd never reach the age of twenty-one: all of them admirable in Algren’s eyes for their vitality and no-bullshit forthrightness, their insistence on living and their ability to find a laugh and a dream in the unlikeliest places.
In Entrapment and Other Writings—containing his unfinished novel and previously unpublished or uncollected stories, poems, and essays—Algren speaks to our time as few of his fellow great American writers of the 1940s and ’50s do, in part because he hasn’t yet been accepted and assimilated into the American literary canon despite that he is held up as a talismanic figure. "You should not read [Algren] if you can’t take a punch," Ernest Hemingway declared. "Mr. Algren can hit with both hands and move around and he will kill you if you are not awfully careful."
Eventually, Margo’s husband abandoned her, and over the years her relationship with Algren was characterized by kindness, intense affection, and loyalty. In many ways, Algren’s love for Margo was the antidote to his love of Simone de Beauvoir and, in a different way, to Amanda, the woman he married twice but was never happy with. To Margo, Algren was a lifeline. His belief that she was miscast as an addict and his fierce attempts to help her kick her addiction were what kept her trying to get
Christian Kindred when he starts being gentle. “Don’t jerk, Little Baby,” he told me so soft—and no sooner had he said it than my arm jerked of itself and jerked the whole outfit clean out of his hand and left the needle shivering in my hide. I hadn’t got Drop the First. “Blowing a whole sixteenth! Fool! After what I distinctly told you”—Daddy went into a simply terrible huff—“you realize you just cost us two-seventy-five?” How that child did huff and puff about my spendthrift ways. In that
drink Edelweiss. Down the street other signs, though none quite as bright. The ladylike Chevrolet legend that burned as if saying, “Now, boys, I don’t want you to quarrel over me.” When she arrived, she would toss the spot of her car up the hotel wall. Didn’t everyone live in a spotlight, night-blue or moon-white? Didn’t everyone do just as he pleased? He wished all the damned bulbs would burst. Across the curve from the Loop the endless headlights: one little dark driver behind each pair and
the States are not honestly believed in nor is humanity itself believed in.… It is as if we are being endowed with a vast and thoroughly appointed body and left with little or no soul.” Surely never before has any people lived so tidily in the midst of such psychological disorder. Never has any people deodorized, sanitized, germproofed, cellophaned and hygienized itself so thoroughly, and still remained stuck with the sense of something dead under the house. Never have so many two-baths-a-day
White Sox pitching staff was Lefty Williams. He was a Southerner, in his mid-twenties, who kept mental book on every player in the league. He’d won twenty-three games for Comiskey in 1919. He pitched with great deliberation, studying his man head to toe before every throw. He could cut the outside corner at the knees or break a curve below a batter’s chin. He’d often complete a ball game without giving a single walk. With the score 0–0 in the fourth inning of the second game, Rath got a base on