Nelson Algren

1909 (Detroit) – 1981 (Sag Harbor, NY)

Algren, interesting but half-forgotten, wrote two low-life novels that live on through the work of others. Wright, mainstay of a socialist writer’s circle Algren habituated, was a supportive influence and friend. Southern, who interviewed him, and Vonnegut, who taught with him and became a Long Island neighbour, were fast friends. De Beauvoir had a long unlikely-sounding affair with him, despite his assumption of female submissiveness; Sartre translated some of his work. Terkel, a Chicago buddy, took him to see Holiday in her dressing-room. De Lillo lent him his typewriter and talked about Hemingway. Preminger, autocratic, fired him after three days.