By Elizabeth H. Oakes
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Additional info for American Writers (American Biographies)
By the end of his first 10 years at Cornell, Ammons had begun to receive critical praise for his work as a poet. And in the several decades since that time, he became one of the most interesting and influential figures in American poetry. Despite this success, he always remained a little outside the literary community, protecting his independence and insisting on his own original approach to the literary life he created. During his career, Ammons wrote close to 30 books of poetry, including six book-length poems.
During his lifetime, Algren published four novels, more than 50 short stories, and numerous poems, criticism, and travel books. His fiction depicted the sordid underside of urban life with topics that focused on poverty and crime, drunks, pimps, prostitutes, freaks, drug addicts, prizefighters, corrupt politicians, and hoodlums. He won several awards and two of his books were made into feature films, but his controversial themes often met with harsh criticism and several of his short stories were banned from the Chicago Public Library.
In 1951, Chicago, the City on the Make, was published. Because of the book’s presentation of life as it existed in the back alleys of Chicago and Illinois, it was not well received by the Chicago Chamber of Commerce. Algren sold the film rights to his next novel, A Walk on the Wild Side, which was published in 1956. The story depicts a drifter during the Great Depression who gets involved with prostitutes, pimps, and con artists. It received only mixed reviews from the critics. Devastated by the book’s cool reception, Algren tried to commit suicide and again was hospitalized for a short time.
American Writers (American Biographies) by Elizabeth H. Oakes