A Walk on the Wild Side: A Novel

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Macmillan, Jun 24, 1998 - Fiction - 346 pages
3 Reviews

With its depictions of the downtrodden prostitutes, bootleggers, and hustlers of Perdido Street in the old French Quarter of 1930s New Orleans, A Walk in the Wild Side has found a place in the imaginations of all generations since it first appeared. As Algren admitted, the book "wasn't written until long after it had been walked . . . I found my way to the streets on the other side of the Southern Pacific station, where the big jukes were singing something called 'Walking the Wild Side of Life.' I've stayed pretty much on that side of the curb ever since."

Perhaps the author's own words describe this classic work best: "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 to acquire, to take all and give nothing, are the most contemptuous of mankind."

 

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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 ... Read full review

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Dove Linkhorn is an uneducated sixteen year old who asks Mexican waitress, Terasina, to teach him how to read the Sunday funnies. He does mechanical and other work for truckers who stop at the restaurant. He's so green that after doing extensive work for one trucker, when asked his price, Dove gives such a low figure that Terasina steps in and gives a realistic figure and tells the driver not to forget the tip.
The novel describes the hard life of working people in the Texas and New Orleans vicinity in the 1930's depression.
Dovel travels from one encounter to another, trying to earn a living. He steals rides on railroads, has a Marine recruiter after his services, gets a non union job on the docks and more.
It's a tough time and we meet other characters who are overcoming their poverty. One young girl tells him, she's run away from The Home a number of times but when she's eighteen, she wants to marry a pick-pocket and settle down.
As Dove gets to know New Orleans, he learns more of what it will take to succeed. However, we don't feel his pain at poverty in the same manner of Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." There are so many episodes in this novel that the story is disjointed.
 

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
92
Section 3
93
Section 4
103
Section 5
114
Section 6
117
Section 7
145
Section 8
164
Section 17
231
Section 18
237
Section 19
243
Section 20
266
Section 21
283
Section 22
284
Section 23
287
Section 24
299

Section 9
174
Section 10
178
Section 11
182
Section 12
213
Section 13
214
Section 14
215
Section 15
223
Section 16
228
Section 25
316
Section 26
319
Section 27
320
Section 28
329
Section 29
336
Section 30
346
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About the author (1998)

Nelson Algren, now considered one of America's finest novelists, was born in Detroit in 1909, and lived most of his life in Chicago. His jobs included migrant worker, journalist, and medical worker. He is the author of five novels, including The Man with the Golden Arm, which was the winner of the first National Book Award. Algren died in 1981.

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