The Texas Stories of Nelson Algren

Overview

This slender volume preserves a unique and devastating view of the Lone Star State during the Depression, a world of hoboes, migrant workers, ranch hands, penniless Mexicans, carnival roustabouts, and the dangerous and helpless inhabitants of county jails.
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Overview

This slender volume preserves a unique and devastating view of the Lone Star State during the Depression, a world of hoboes, migrant workers, ranch hands, penniless Mexicans, carnival roustabouts, and the dangerous and helpless inhabitants of county jails.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Best known for his tales of urban slums, Algren also wrote eloquently about the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. He first experienced this region in 1932 as a wandering college graduate who could find no job. Surrounded by desperation and casual violence, Algren produced semi-autobiographical stories like "So Help Me," which dramatizes brutal exploitation. Set apart by his Jewishness, Algren also observed and recorded episodes of racism and discrimination. After stealing a typewriter, Algren spent several weeks in jail, and this experience provided impetus for his pervasive theme of the individual oppressed by corrupt authority. Later works in this collection, like "The Last Carousel," provide more detached and bemused treatments of Algren's Texas experiences. Spanning more than four decades, these 12 stories display nicely the evolution of Algren's style. Recommended both for historical interest and literary merit.Albert E. Wilhelm, Tennessee Technological Univ., Cookeville
Booknews
Morgan (history, U. of Montevallo) provides a detailed history of the ideological conflicts that troubled the Southern Baptist Convention from 1969 to 1991. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292715776
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 159
  • Product dimensions: 5.67 (w) x 8.72 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Larry McMurtry once wrote that Nelson Algren held the best literary claim to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, though few people realize that "the poet of the Chicago slums" ever lived or wrote here. Yet it was in Depression-era Texas that Algren developed his instinctive need to speak for the powerless-a need that made him one of the foremost chroniclers of the American outcast. The Texas that Algren understood was a world where impoverished people lived among simmering yet casual violence, a world where the law-racist, abusive, and corrupt-ruled with an utter ruthlessness and power.

The Texas Stories vividly re-creates this now-vanished world. The collection includes "So Help Me," winner of a 1935 O'Henry Award; "The Last Carousel," which won the 1972 Playboy Fiction Award; and the early "Thundermug," a piece that was censored when it appeared in the radical Windsor Quarterly in 1935. Here too is Algren's unique retelling of the legend of Bonnie and Clyde. Including work from more than four decades, The Texas Stories provides a much-needed overview of Algren's artistic development. It will be enthusiastically welcomed by Algren fans, Texans, literary scholars, Western historians, and many others.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Lest the Traplock Click 1
So Help Me 15
Kewpie Doll 31
A Holiday in Texas 35
If You Must Use Profanity 45
A Place to Lie Down 57
Thundermug 67
El Presidente de Mejico 81
Depend on Aunt Elly 95
After the Buffalo: Bonnie and Clyde 113
The Last Carousel 121
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