Sunday, November 15, 2009

Terkel and Algren, 1975

I found this interesting video of Studs Terkel interviewing Nelson Algren at a 1975 party somewhere in Chicago. They are talking about Algren's strange new residency in Paterson, New Jersey, of all places.

At about 2:28 in the video Algren has an answer that took me aback after Studs asks him if he will miss Chicago. Algren says:

"No, no I've never missed Chicago. No. [...] And I don't think Chicago is going to miss me. No, Chicago won't miss me. I mean I went up to the public library the other day...let's see I've written 10, 11 books and there isn't one there. They are in Tokyo; they're in the public library in Tokyo and in Paris and in about 10, 11 cities but not in Chicago."

It's hard to tell whether he's joking here but it's even harder not to sense some amount of bitterness in that caustic reply. Maybe Algren went to Paterson as a sort of "fuck you" to Chicago. If they don't want me here, if they won't appreciate me, then I'll move to this shady and obscure city in New Jersey.

For most of the rest of the video it's pretty obvious that Algren is joking with Studs so maybe this should all be taken with a grain of salt. It's an interesting window, no less, into the mysterious man that was Nelson Algren.

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