Songbird for Nelson Algren

No.9

Songbird for Nelson Algren

I’ve made more than a few tributes to  the great Chicago writer Nelson Algren.  His shadow looms large over how I see the city.  Algren, of course, is the steely realist who will not let us bullshit ourselves about who we are.  He is also the soft heart who  is full of the gambler’s optimism about who we could be.  He was a master of the gray; the good in the bad and the bad in the good.  He also leavened his often sad and tragic stories with wry humor.  He is also aware of Chicago’s propensity for eating its own.  He often remarked that Chicago could not “love you back” and went to his grave believing this.

Once a year I re-read Chicago: City on the Make and marvel at its sprawling and adventurous storytelling.  It still moves like a freight-train.  It is still a bitter pill and a…

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