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The Man with the Golden Armby Nelson Algren
Synopses & Reviews
Known as much for his journalistic reporting as for the fiction he wrote under a variety of pen names, Bill Granger combined his divergent talents in his powerful novel Time for Frankie Coolin. With distinctive voices, compelling characters, on-the-ground observation, and suspense, it offers a serious, illuminating take on the changing tides of race, class, and politics in late twentieth-century Chicago.
Time for Frankie Coolin tells the story of a plasterer turned landlord in Chicago who, in the late 1970s, buys abandoned buildings and makes them just habitable enough that he can charge minimal rent to his mostly black tenants. Frankie—both a tough guy in the trades and a family man—has done well by his wife and kids, moving them to a house in the suburbs. But a casual favor for his wifes cousin—allowing the man to store some crates in an empty building—and a random act of arson set in motion a cascade of crises, including a menacing pair of G-men and the looming threat of prison if Frankie doesnt talk. But since talking has never been one of Frankies strengths, he copes as he always has: by trying to tough it out on his own.
Calling to mind such gritty poets of the urban scene as George V. Higgins and Nelson Algren, Time for Frankie Coolin is both a psychological thriller and a 70s Chicago period piece that shines a surprisingly sympathetic light on the often ignored stories of the people who lived, worked, and died at the citys margins.
Time for Frankie Coolin tells the story of an absentee landlord in Chicago who, in the late 1970s, buys abandoned buildings and makes them just barely habitable so that he can charge minimal rent to his mostly black tenants. He then moved his family to the suburbs. He misses the city, but is managing pretty well until he does a favor for his wifes cousin, allowing the man to store some crates in an empty building. Then someone sets the building on fire. Pretty soon, a pair of G-men start coming around, threatening Frankie with prison if he doesnt talk to them. Since talking is not one of Frankies strengths, he just copes as he always has: by trying to tough it out on his own. Part psychological thriller and part period piece, the novel vividly evokes the south and west sides of Chicago and the people who worked there in the 1970s.
A novel of rare genius, The Man with the Golden Arm describes the dissolution of a card-dealing WWII veteran named Frankie Machine, caught in the act of slowly cutting his own heart into wafer-thin slices. For Frankie, a murder committed may be the least of his problems.
The literary critic Malcolm Cowley called The Man with the Golden Arm "Algren's defense of the individual," while Carl Sandburg wrote of its "strange midnight dignity." A literary tour de force, here is a novel unlike any other, one in which drug addiction, poverty, and human failure somehow suggest a defense of human dignity and a reason for hope.
Back in print at last is this masterwork of one of the truly original voices in 20th-century American literature. Chicago card dealer and junkie Frankie Machine is as tough as anyone in the Windy City's underworld--but not tough enough to break his habit. This fiction classic was made into an acclaimed film directed by Otto Preminger, starring Frank Sinatra.
About the Author
Nelson Algren (1909-1981) wrote of the despised urban underbelly of America before it was fashionable to do so, and still stands as one of our most defiant and enduring novelists. His novels include The Man with the Golden Arm, winner of the first National Book Award, A Walk on the Wild Side, and Never Come Morning.
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