Nonconformity - Writing about Writing
In Nonconformity, Algren identifies the essential nature of the writer's relation to society, drawing examples from Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Twain, and Fitzgerald, as well as baseball players and barkeeps. He shares his deepest beliefs about the state of literature and its role in society, along the way painting a chilling portrait of the early 1950s and Joe McCarthy's America, in which many writers were blacklisted and ruined for saying similar things to what Algren says here. The struggle to write with deep emotion, honest engagement with culture, and freedom from political conformity is the subject of this extraordinary book, the previously unpublished credo of one of America's greatest 20th-century writers. '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,' writes Nelson Algren in his only longer work of nonfiction, adding: 'A certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery.'