Golden Arm

The Man With The Golden Arm

We all are within each other.

That’s the line that gets to me in Nelson Algren’s  “The Man With The Golden Arm.”

You could start a religion based upon this sentence. Or a political movement. You could sum up life with this sentence.

Golden Arm is one of those books I’d been meaning to read for years and I finally marched to the library and checked it out. Not an easy book. Surreal. You’re not sure exactly what’s going on but when you stand back you can see it take shape. (Like when you open your eyes inches from  an expressionist painting and then slowly step back. Same effect.)

Compassion—but not glorification—of the addict is another theme. The addict is not evil, not heroic. A common man, lost.

Art Shay photo of Algren playing cards.

Frankie Machine is the ex-soldier, addict who is also a card dealer in the neighborhood game—Chicago’s gritty, post-war Division Street. 1946 or so. The precinct Captain Bednar  is the one whose interior monologue espresses that we all are within each other.

I felt no color while reading. The book is written in black and white and gray. Brought tears.

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