Nelson Algren was born in 1909 in Detroit and lived mostly in Chicago. His published works including A Walk on the Wild Side (which inspired the Lou Reed song of the same name), Somebody in Boots and Never Come Morning. He was also a prolific writer of short stories, essays, travelogues and poems. In 1950 The Man with the Golden Arm earned him the first American National Book Award. His life was a succession of gambling problems, disastrous marriages and wild extremes - ranging from Texas prisons and skid-row soup-kitchens to Hollywood parties and literary celebrations. He also had a passionate love affair with French feminist Simone de Beauvoir. Algren died in 1981, shortly after being appointed as a fellow of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
* ... a cult classic...Less of a traditional narrative and more like a poetic force of nature, Wild Side is a boisterous panegyric to the side street solitaries who dream their impossible dreams The Telegraph * One of the most powerful books I have ever read. -- Alyson Rudd The Times * The 1956 classic that gave Lou Reed his most famous song is republished in paperback with an introductory essay from Russell Banks - and don't be tempted to skip it: this pocket-book guide to Algren's own life of doomed love, addiction and disappointment, is a gripping read in itself. The Scotsman * Mr. Algren, boy, you are good. -- Ernest Hemingway * The intensity of his feeling, the accuracy of his thought, make me wonder if any other writer of our time has shown us more exactly the basis of our democracy. His hell burns with passion for heaven. New York Times Book Review