Literary Birthday – 28 March – Nelson Algren

Nelson Algren was born 28 March 1909 and died 9 May 1981.


  1. You don’t write a novel out of sheer pity any more than you blow a safe out of a vague longing to be rich. A certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery.
  2. Any writer who knows what he’s doing isn’t doing very much.
  3. Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom’s. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.
  4. The farther away you get from the literary traffic, the closer you are to sources.
  5. A book, a true book, is the writer’s confessional. For, whether he would have it so or not, he is betrayed, directly or indirectly, by his characters, into presenting publicly his innermost feelings.
  6. To literary critics a book is assumed to be guilty until it proves itself innocent.
  7. Literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal apparatus by conscience in touch with humanity.
  8. The only way I could finish a book and get a plot was just to keep making it longer until something happens.

Nelson Algren was an American writer of literary fiction. His novel, The Man With the Golden Arm won the National Book Award and was adapted as a film of the same name. He wrote about the struggle to write in Nonconformity: Writing on Writing.

Source for image: New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Albertin, Walter, photographer., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 28th March 2018