Tag Archives: Algren

The Writer’s Confessional

“A book, a true book, is the writer’s confessional.  For, whether he would have it or not, he is betrayed . . . by his characters into presenting publicly his innermost feelings.”–Nelson Algren

“A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.”–Franz Kafka

IT’S NO revelation that a writer reveals himself when he writes, but Algren is saying that if he doesn’t, he’s not really a writer.  “[A] true book”  is one where the writer actually says what he feels and thinks–the others are mere bagatelles.  That definition would seem to exclude many of the books that show up on “best seller” lists today, the formulaic genre fiction aimed at an ever more discrete slice of the readership pie.  It’s also true that it’s those same books–mysteries, thrillers, “chick lit”–that dominate the marketplace, Anyone who participates in the book industry is eventually told that genre fiction is the only way to fame and fortune, thus the assembly-line “books” we have today. Continue reading