Mary Wisniewski - "Algren" - Warren Leming

Mary Wisniewski discusses Algren: A Life. She will be joined in conversation by Warren Leming.

At 57th Street Books


About the book: Algren is the definitive biography of one of the best-known writers of mid-20th-century America. Chicago journalist Mary Wisniewski interviewed dozens of Algren’s inner circle, including photographer Art Shay and the late Studs Terkel, and examined Algren’s unpublished writing and correspondence, including hundreds of letters he received from lover Simone de Beauvoir, to craft an account as entertaining as it is meticulously researched. Algren reveals new details about the writer’s life, work, personality, and habits, digging beneath the street-crawling man’s man stereotype to show a funny, sensitive, and romantic but self-destructive artist. Wisniewski shows how, initially celebrated then savaged by literary critics for his continued preoccupation with prostitutes and drug addicts in his fiction, Algren was haunted by insecurity about his work and practically gave up writing fiction after 1956, and how he finally found a sense of community and acceptance in the artist colony of Sag Harbor before his death in 1981. This fresh look at the man whose tough but humorous style and compassionate message enchanted readers and fellow writers and whose boyish charm seduced many women is indispensable to anyone interested in 20th-century American literature.

About the author: Mary Wisniewski is a reporter at the Chicago Tribune and former Reuters investigative reporter covering Midwest crime and politics. Previously a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a reporter for Chicago Lawyer, Wisniewski has won numerous awards for reporting and has taught creative writing and published literary reviews. She is an active participant in the Nelson Algren Committee, past president of the Chicago Headline Club, and appears frequently on local television and radio.

About the interlocutor: Warren Leming is a founding member of the Nelson Algren Committee ( and a writer, documentarian. He is a producer participant in the Algren documentary: The End is Nothing, the Road is All. He produced and directed the first Brecht on Film festival in the United States, and was a founding member of the political - satirical group Wilderness Road ( He has divided his time between Chicago, Berlin, and London since the early 1980's.

He and Kurt Jacobsen are the co-directors of the award winning documentary, The American Road. They are currently producing a documentary on the actor/activist Ed Asner.
Event Location: 
57th Street Books
1301 E. 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637