The Nelson Algren Committee

None of Algren's work was in print when the Committee planned its first event in 1989. Today, in addition to the Nelson Algren Fountain (Milwaukee at Ashland); the Algren apartment historical site; and the Birthday Party, the Committee can point to all of Algren's work having been returned to print.

To find out more about the committee and its work contact:

The Algren Committee ..

Nina Gaspich, Hugh Iglarsh, Kurt Jacobsen and Warren Leming

Address: 2418 W. Bloomingdale, #203, Chicago, IL 60647 USA

Come join Nelson and his friends on facebook


Please review our newsletter below to which we welcome contributions.

Nelson Algren Photo

Our Founder,
established in 1989.

"By nights when the yellow salamanders of the EL bend all one way and the cold rain runs with the red-lit rain.
By the way the city's million wires are burdened only by lightest snow;
When chairs are stacked and glasses are turned and arc-lamps all are dimmed.
By days when the wind bangs alley gates ajar and the sun goes by on the wind.
By nights when the moon is an only child above the measured thunder of the cars, you may know Chicago's heart at last."
Nelson Algren: Chicago: City on the Make


Come Join us to Celebrate Nelson Algren’s 26th Annual Birthday Party
The 2015 version of this local tradition takes place Saturday, March 28, with doors opening at 7:30.

Program begins at 8. at the Bloomingdale Artists Building,
2418 W. Bloomingdale, hard by the soon-to-open Bloomingdale (606) Trail,
Western Avenue station of the CTA Blue Line

(For additional directions, call the Algren Hotline at 773/235-4267.)

The party will feature a sneak peek at the new documentary co-directed by Mark Blottner and Denis Mueller,
Nelson Algren: The End is Nothing, the Road is All.

The birthday celebration will also offer a rich array of readings, music and other presentations and a
salute to Algren’s true love, the great French philosopher, writer and feminist Simone de Beauvoir.
Famed folksinger Mark Dvorak will be there, as will musician/actor/former Saturday Night Live writer
Nate Herman, distinguished Chicago actress Donna Blue Lachman,
Legendary blues/boogie woogie piano master Erwin Helfer will be playing.!
Sax player extraordinaire John Brumbach will be appearing with Mr. Helfer.
Chicago film maker and legend..Tom Palazzolo will show a short, and many others.

And as always we honor a local figure for service beyond the call of duty in the cause of art and humanity.

This year’s winner of the Nelson Algren Committee Award is Katerina Carson, who kept Chicago's cabaret tradition alive and well.

Admission is $10 at the door, $5 for seniors and students with ID.
Drink tickets and an array of libations are available to those wishing to toast Algren on his own day;
complimentary snacks and a door prize.

Committee members Warren Leming and Hugh Iglarsh do MC duty,
capably assisted by fellow members Nina Gaspich, Rick Homuth and Kurt Jacobsen.

Laura Weathered and the Near Northwest Arts Council will once again cosponsor the event.

Algren memorabilia – including books, “mugshot” mugs, buttons and postcards – will be on offer.

The 26th annual Nelson Algren birthday bash, honoring the writer who made Chicago "his trade."



The Nelson Algren Committee has helped fund and is hoping to interest all who can donate to the Official Nelson Algren documentary:

The End is Nothing, The Road is All

Produced/Directed by Mark Blottner, Denis Mueller and Ilko Davidov

For Information: Denis Mueller (419) 494-5464

The Real Algren Story is Finally Here!!!
Chicago Premiere. We will open at the beautiful
Gene Siskel Theatre on April 4, 2015 at 3 PM.
Twenty-five years in the making this visually stunning film has Industry people excited.
"I discovered the true essence of Nelson Algren by hearing his life story told in his own words in
this visually evocative film."
Cynthia Close, Contributing Editor for DOCUMENTARY MAGAZINE
“You really got into Nelson's character and defined what motivated him. I was also incredibly
impressed by how well visualized the film is.”
Bob Hercules
Award Winning Documentary Filmmaker

Nelson Algren: The End Is Nothing, The Road Is All is an in-depth feature length documentary
from Chicago's award-winning BulletProof Film, filmmaker Mark Blottner and award-winning
independent filmmaker Denis Mueller. It focuses on the struggles of one of America's greatest
and least understood authors, Nelson Algren.

Algren distributor First Run Features is “A pioneering, New York-based film company whose
activities have enriched independent filmmaking and distribution,” says the Museum of Modern
Art. First Run Features is one of the largest independent film distributors in North America and
has gained a reputation for its controversial catalog of daring documentaries and feature films.

View the Trailer for “Nelson Algren: The End Is Nothing, The Road Is All” at:

Theatrical & Semi-theatrical booking inquiries:
Paul Marchant | 212-243-0600 x22

For updates on Nelson Algren Committee events and other Algren-related doings, visit this Web site

or call the Algren Hot Line at (773) 235-4267.

October 2014 .. Hallo out there: the new shipment of NELSON ALGREN MUG SHOT MUGS HAVE JUST ARRIVED.
We send em post paid to you.... email: for more details.
GET your order in, they'll go quickly.



The Algren Committee has a limited supply of the


Done in black and white and with Algren's mug shot, courtesy of the Chicago Police Dept., on both sides.

Greet the day with an Algren Mug Shot Mug---reminding you never to "play cards with a man named Doc.

And never to eat at a place called Ma's. And never to sleep with someone whose troubles are worse than your own."

For details email us at:




 A rare, archival DVD, of John Susman's Nelson & Simone.
The play traces the twenty plus year love affair between ...

Nelson Algren and Simone de Beauvoir

Directed by Richard Cotovsky, Live Bait Theater's 2000 production stars
Gary Houston, Rebecca Covey and Fred Wellisch.

The Algren Committee has copies of the dvd for sale at 25 dollars post paid to you. To order email us at;

Be sure and include your address. We'll send you details on the purchase when we get your email.



Max Vanzi is a retired writer/journalist living in Sacramento, California. Max covered the Far East and points between for the wire services as a foreign correspondent. He's an Algren fan, and spent a weekend with the Committee during the 2010 Algren Birthday party. He's done us the honor of a piece on the Committee, Algren's legacy, and his time in Chicago.

A Heroic Line of Losers: From Herman Melville to Nelson Algren by Hugh Iglarsh

"Algren's Last Night" is the bittersweet tale of a Chicago writer bidding farewell to the city he had 'made his trade.'
Bulletprooffilm — February 12, 2006 — Based on a script written and narrated by Algren friend Warren Leming,

Given the dark tone of Algren's work, Carmine Cervi creates his own film noir world in DV color. "Algren's Last Night" is: 'Video Noir'.

Unique and evocative cityscapes reveal a dark, haunted Chicago rarely traveled or seen.
Director/Producer/Editor/Camera: Carmine Cervi
Actor/Writer/Producer: Warren Leming




MediaBurnArchive — November 03, 2009 — Studs Terkel chats and jokes with Nelson Algren at a party in Chicago.
Algren had recently moved from Chicago to Paterson, New Jersey, and this move was the subject of most of the conversation,
told mainly through deadpan jokes.


Here are two sites featuring a 2009 Nelson Algren program at the Steppenwolf theater in Chicago.
The event celebrated Algren's centennial, and featured readings and commentary by authors and actors.

 Nelson Algren Live: The Lightless Room,
read by Willem Dafoe

 Nelson Algren Live: Margo,
read by Barry Gifford

March 11, 2015

Geoffrey O’Brien

Editor in Chief, Library of America

14 East 60th Street

New York, NY 10022

Dear Mr. O’Brien:

I write to you on behalf of the Nelson Algren Committee, of which I am a member – and also as a reader, a student of American literature, and an admirer of your excellent and much-needed publishing venture, which has saved many a classic text from the recycling bin and remainder table of history.

My question (which you may already have guessed) is simple: Do you plan to include any of the works of Nelson Algren in the Library of America?

Algren is not only Chicago’s top novelist, the winner of the first National Book Award for The Man with the Golden Arm and the dean of mid-century social realists, acclaimed by Hemingway as his peer and successor. He also remains a much under-read and underrated author whose reputation would benefit from the endorsement of the Library of America and the series’ presence in bookstores and libraries.

While Algren is not represented in your roster, I notice that nine volumes are devoted to Philip Roth, a writer who is alive, in print and highly publicized by his publisher. By contrast, Algren was mostly

out of print for many years and still lacks the attention he deserves in the United States (less so in Europe). This is due to the lingering effects of McCarthy-era FBI harassment and unfairly harsh attacks by critics who themselves toed the line and had little use for Algren’s radical humanism and heartfelt identification with the downtrodden. When the Cold War chill hit American letters in the 1950s, it was Algren and others like him who found themselves frozen out and used as a cautionary example for younger writers. An injustice was done to him then, which can be partially rectified now.

In short, I believe that you need Algren to fulfill your original purpose of maintaining a permanent library consisting of literary works of perennial merit, and Algren needs you to reclaim his rightful standing.

By any reasonable standard, Chicago: City on the Make, Golden Arm, Never Come Morning and Neon Wilderness are classics that still speak to us today, louder than ever. Algren had a conscience in touch with humanity, in his own phrase, and few American writers have ever chronicled so powerfully and poetically the gap between our ideals of freedom and equality and the felt reality of alienation and marginalization. While his outsider stance went out of style for awhile, his insights are still alive and compelling, as evidenced by the two documentaries about him released during the past year.

I look forward to hearing back from about this matter. If there is anything I can do to assist in making Nelson Algren part of your esteemed literary series, please let me know. Thank you so much for your attention and consideration.

Yours truly,

Hugh Iglarsh

The Nelson Algren Committee

Chicago, Illinois


The Nelson Algren Committee awards go to artists and activists who have made outstanding contributions to Chicago's Progressive community.

Nelson Algren Award Recipients


 2003 ...  Don Rose  Carlos Cortez  Jon Jost   Kate Hogan  Jim Redd            
 2004 ...  Laura Weathered  Roberto Lopez  David Williams  Peter Kuttner  Judy Hoffman            
 2005 ...   Jeff Huebner   Vesna Rebernak  Penelope & Franklin Rosemont                
 2006 ...  Glenda Daniel   Carl Davidson   Marguerite Horberg                
 2007 ...  Diana Berek  Lew Rosenbaum  Bob Rudner                
 2008 ...  John K. Wilson  Kari Lydersen                  
 2009 ...  Denis Mueller  Ken Dunn  Alma Washington                
 2010 ...  James Bond   Erwin Helfer  Erika R. Allen                
 2011 ...   Chris Drew  Maureen Murphy  Scott Sanders   Richard Wood              
 2012 ...   Paul Durica  Elliot Zashin                  
 2013 ...  Tom Palazzolo                    
 2014 ...  WZRD Radio Collective                    
 2015 ...  Katerina Carson                    

Understanding Nelson Algren
Univ. of South Carolina Press
Brook Horvath

William Faulkner said that every Southern schoolboy waits eternally for George Pickett to raise his sword and begin the mad charge into Union artillery that will end with the decimation of his division and the death of Confederate hopes at Gettysburg, the high-water mark of the Confederacy.

For Nelson Algren, Chicago waits eternally to expiate the sin of its beginnings in the Haymarket show trial and the judicial murder of the Haymarket victims, hanged to stave off the fight for the Labor Union and the eight-hour day. Algren never forgave Chicago's ruthless merchant class that oversaw the exploitation and political-cum-judicial repression that still stigmatize the good residents of the Second City. And so Algren, like the Truth, had a hardscrabble life in the town he "made his trade."

Lumping Algren with Faulkner may seem perverse, but the two shared a fascination with an America that continues to defy explanation. They are both attuned to a culture of violence and deliberate moral confusion that today finds clear expression in FOX non-News and can be summarized by the sentence: "The more you watch the less you know."

Brooke Horvath's Understanding Nelson Algren, published by the University of South Carolina Press as part of its "Understanding Contemporary American Literature" series, introduces a new generation of readers to Algren. Horvath's book charts Algren's beginnings, wandering the country in the midst of the Depression, getting jailed in Texas and then returning to Chicago broke but convinced, against all the odds, that he could get enough of the city onto paper to make a living as a writer.

Inspired by Dickens, Conrad, Celine, Sartre and his friend Richard Wright, Algren set out to describe what he had found in what Brecht called "the great jungles we know as cities." Algren had already been writing for well over a decade when The Man With the Golden Arm , which won the first National Book Award for fiction, made him famous to littérateurs and infamous to many of Chicago's more respectable citizens. The book is one of the first serious attempts to look at drug addiction in a nation the writer found riddled with "spiritual desolation."

It is difficult now to reconjure the world that produced Algren and Wright, James T. Farrell and Studs Terkel. It was a world which villified a broken and exploitative Capitalist system now shifted to a media-driven triumphalist mode. Capitalism was so universally deplored that Depression-era American literature now reads as though from another planet.

What happened, one asks with Mr. Horvath, to all that now-suspect anti-mercantilist Realist prose and the radical energy that produced it? The answers lie in the carefully buried Past, victim, as Algren predicted, of the media's endless rewrite in a country continually riven by racism, inequality, violence and a rapacity that leaves a Quentin Tarantino salivating and Progressives wishing they'd been born elsewhere.

Horvath is good on the FBI, with its ever more hysterical Cold War hyperbole, as it brands Algren a "potentially active enemy agent." In today's atmosphere, he'd be considered a Terrorist. Horvath saves us a superb and prophetic Algren quote: "We must recognize that, in the eyes of the world, the CIA is now reversing what it once meant to be an American." This uttered a quarter-century and counting before George W. Bush stepped to the podium and forever blackened the legacy of a State that, if not failed,has revealed its successes as steeped in the blood of its own citizens.

It is not farfetched to call Algren a prophet, and Horvath suggests as much. Algren's view of the U.S. as "an Imperialist son of a bitch" has now been echoed by everyone from Noam Chomsky to Bill Blum to Ramsey Clarke.

What did happen to Algren who, along with Robeson and Wright and Farrell and the Hollywood Ten and thousands of others, found themselves enemies of the State? Their passports pulled, their phones bugged and their careers virtually ended by a state-sponsored attack on "subversives" that's been re-worked in our own time. Once again, the Fascist slanders of the Corporate media and the "anti-Terrorist" campaigns funded by taxpayer dollars are squandered on horror shows that produce universal hatred of the U.S. Algren held to these views despite the price exactted. Horvath suggets that the price of Algrens truths was career suicide.

The chasm between an indifferent elite and the masses of people at the bottom of the system is now a fixed fact of American life. Algren's generation is to be the last allowed to take this fact seriously, as something shameful to be acted upon. We live now, as Horvath suggests, at a time when Algren remains a problem for the po/mo academics, the hacks at the heart of the media and the middlebrow millionaire breast-beaters of the Dr. Phil and Oprah variety.

What response other than deep despair could Algren summon to what he saw in his own time? Horvath's book remains good evidence that Algren - for all his troubles, tormented love life, blighted career and eventual literary exile - remained true to something that's disappearing quickly in the self-proclaimed home of "freedom and democracy": human compassion. Brooke Horvath has given us a good look at Algren's legacy: the Corporate/State Lie and Algren's great "No" to America.

Warren Leming

Algren's Eye: Photography and the City by Warren Leming

Most recently, the BBC (Scotland) shot "A Walk on the Wild Side," in Chicago, with the co-operation of the Committee. The video documents Algren's now famous love affair with the French writer and feminist icon Simone De Beauvoir. Copies are available thru the Committee.

The Committee is making available, for the first time, a CD of Algren reading from his work. The CD will contain a long interview with Algren by Studs Terkel. There are also excerpts of Algren reading from his work. If you are interested you can write or call the Committee about obtaining a copy. Produced by Cold Chicago, the CD was originally recorded at FM station WFMT.

In addition, a map of Algren sites, fictional and real, has been created in a joint effort by artist Robert Hartzell and Nina Gaspich is now available, have a look!

Click the link to download an mpeg of the Frankie Machine Blues bands version of: Algren Street our homage to the work of Nelson Algren. The lyrics to the tune are also available.

Algren Quotes:

"Literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal apparatus by conscience in touch with humanity."

"The hard necessity of bringing the judge on the bench down into the dock has been the peculiar responsibility of the writer
in all ages of man."

"I went out there [Hollywood] for a thousand a week, and I worked Monday, and I got fired Wednesday.
The guy that hired me was out of town Tuesday."

"The avocation of assessing the failures of better men can be turned into a comfortable livelihood,
providing you back it up with a Ph.D."

"Books by Nelson Algren"

Somebody in Boots, Never Come Morning, The Neon Wilderness, Man with the Golden Arm, Walk on the Wild Side
Chicago: City on the Make, Who Lost an American?, Notes from a Sea Voyage, The Devil's Stocking

Copyright: Cold Chicago Company,.. 2001-2015