City on the Make:
Sixtieth Anniversary Edition
Nelson Algren was considered one of the leading American writers in the late 40's and early 50's. When Holiday magazine solicited Algren for an article on chicago, they expected a paean to the city that would draw denizens of Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Des Moines and St. Louis to Marshall Fields and other culural icons of the great city written by the city's great author. Instead, they got Chicago: City on the Make, a prose poem celebrating a city of hustlers with all its warts. After Holiday rejected his work, Algren published it as a short book in 1951. In this edition, published by the University of Chicago, David Schmittgens and Bill Savage add 31 pages of notes to the back to explain unique 40's and 50's Chicago idiom which is helpbul but hard to follow. Hemmingway once cautioned against reading Algren if you cannot take a punch. Algren brings out Chicago and all its warts and beauty. The city is "Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real." Algren's Chicago is real and he points to problems we have yet to solve today. He covers the city and its warts and the role of the writer in providing meaning. Algren notes that "For chicago lives like a drunken El-rider who cannot remember where he got on nor at what station he wants to get off. The sound of the wheels satisfies him that he is making great progress." This is an important book from an important writer that will move you and teach you.