Nelson Algren, most quotable of writers, was born 100 years ago today.
I’ve posted many items about him over the past few years, including what his friends had to say: Roger Groening, for instance, and Kurt Vonnegut and Studs Terkel. Some of my own comments and memories, too.
A few years ago, I mentioned that Nelson’s 28-page poem, “Ode to Kissassville,” once appeared as an epilogue in 100 copies of a 1961 reprint edition of “Chicago: City on the Make,” but never anywhere else. It should have been included in the 50th anniversary edition that the University of Chicago Press reprinted in 2001. It wasn’t.
Maybe it will appear in “Entrapment and Other Writings,” due out any day now from Seven Stories Press and said to contain an “unfinished novel and previously unpublished or uncollected stories, poems, and essays.” Hope so, especially since the title of the collection seems to be taken from a stanza in the ode about two undercover cops “entrapping two derelicts into a feeble attempt at mugging …”
Show me another city so proud to be alive
That it can fit two citizen-dress men into false bras
And tight gowns
Then send them down Skid Row bravely swinging handbags
And hips rolling.
What New York’s police would like to do, Chicago’s really can
In that contented evening hour when we learn to Trap Our Man.