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The [Friday] Papers

On the road to recovery, but not quite ready to pump out a regular column. I'll catch up sometime today and/or over the weekend and, for sure, things will be back to normal by Monday. In the meantime, I can assure you that all the people who usually lie to you are still doing so, and all the suck-ups and posers who enable them continue unabated.

In the meantime, new material is posted throughout the site. And remember, the archives for each section are available by month in the upper left rail of each section front. We're working on design changes and other site improvements we hope will be ready soon. You can find the archives for this column and The Weekend Desk Report here.

Finally, I had these excerpts laying around from Conversations with Nelson Algren, distilled from H.E.F. Donohue's interviews with the author, published in 1964. The great (and depressing) thing about writers such as Algren is the timelessness of their message.


"All these scenes, one after another, piled up into something that made me not just want to write but to really say it, to find out that this thing was all upside down. Everything I'd been told was wrong. That I see with my own eyes. I'd been told, I'd been assured that it was a strive and succeed world. What you did: you got yourself an education and a degree and then you went to work for a family newspaper and then you married a nice girl and raised children and this was what America was. But this was not what America was. America was not socialized and I resented very deeply that I'd been lied to. I'd not only been lied to morally, I'd been lied to even insofar as the information that I had about journalism. I'd been told how to write headlines for newspapers. I'd been told in the School of Journalism the way you wrote headlines when you tried to write a headline, but the way you'd been taught, this got you fired immediately from a newspaper. You had to reverse everything from what you'd been taught, mechanically as well as morally."


"I deal in facts, man. The hard terrible facts, the iron truth."


"I think there's a comparison to be made between the individual who goes for a false security and a country that goes for a false security . . . we're going to have a different kind of war. We're going to have a war that isn't a war and it isn't a peace. We're just going to havea tightening, a continuous tightening of security as the fear grows."


"I put up with the disdain. I accept that as part of the creative person's lot in the United States. You must live with the disdain. There's something criminal about being a writer, that is, if you're not a successful writer, that is, if you're not a yes man. There are a lot of yes men who just give a nod to the corruption of business, the corruption of the newspaper world, the corruption of the magazine world, and the hollowness of American life. They give the nod to it. They give approval and they get a pay-off . . . But if you go against this, if you point out that the reason Americans are restless is because their lives are empty - that what we have here isn't a kind of 4-H Club picnic going - that this is a country where there's a great deal of psychological and spiritual anguish, that we live in a nightmare, that the people in Sherwood Anderson's short stories or the plays of Tennessee Williams are closer to actuality than are the pictures we get from Herman Wouk or James Michener, or name whomever you want - the professional approvers - if you go against this Woukian thing, if you don't deal in handouts, then you feel the disdain, then you realize that you are a kind of criminal. You are against society and you have to be against it, it being what it is."


"If you're a Frenchman at the time of Napoleon, you were the destined people. They thought the same thing in Athens. And the English felt they were born to rule the world, as the Portugese have felt, as we in our time have felt American 'destiny.' But there is always in all of these civilizations as they come, there is always somebody as there was Socrates in Athens, as there were men in France, maybe a lot of people whose names are lost, as there were men during the American Civil War and during the First World War, there are always people who stand at the side and say, 'You're mad.' There's always some singular character who stands in opposition to the whole thing, who is either ignored or put away as a bug, or sent to Atlanta, or he's simply the man to whom nobody pays any heed. He's the man who's ultimately right."

The Beachwood Tip Line: Be ultimately right.


Posted on April 20, 2007

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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