Your audiobook is waiting…

A Walk on the Wild Side

Narrated by: Keith Szarabajka
Length: 10 hrs and 41 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4 out of 5 stars (35 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

With its depictions of the downtrodden prostitutes, bootleggers, and hustlers of Perdido Street in the old French Quarter of 1930s New Orleans, A Walk in the Wild Side has found a place in the imaginations of all generations since it first appeared. As Algren admitted, the book "wasn't written until long after it had been walked . . . I found my way to the streets on the other side of the Southern Pacific station, where the big jukes were singing something called 'Walking the Wild Side of Life.' I've stayed pretty much on that side of the curb ever since."

Perhaps the author's own words describe this classic work best: "The book asks why lost people sometimes develop into greater human beings than those who have never been lost in their whole lives. Why men who have suffered at the hands of other men are the natural believers in humanity, while those whose part has been simply to acquire, to take all and give nothing, are the most contemptuous of mankind."

©1956 renewed 1984 by the Estate of Nelson Algren (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The book asks why lost people sometimes develop into greater human beings than those who have never been lost in their whole lives. Why men who have suffered at the hands of other men are the natural believers in humanity, while those whose part has been simply to acquire, to take all and give nothing, are the most contemptuous of mankind." (Nelson Algren)
"Deserves to be read by every Catch-22 and Cuckoo's Nest freak just so they can find out what opened the door for [these] two novels....It's not only that before Heller and Kesey there was Algren. It's that Algren is where they come from." ( Rolling Stone)
"The intensity of his feeling, the accuracy of his thought, make me wonder if any other writer of our time has shown us more exactly the human basis of our democracy. Though Algren often defines his positive values by showing us what happens in their absence, his hell burns with passion for heaven." ( New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    16
  • 4 Stars
    9
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    18
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    15
  • 4 Stars
    4
  • 3 Stars
    7
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Beryl
  • Ann Arbor, MI, United States
  • 02-07-15

Evcellent Story

If you could sum up A Walk on the Wild Side in three words, what would they be?

Interesting Compelling Authentic. Very little resemblance to the film with Jane Fonda, Laurence Harvey and Anne Baxter. Still a great book. Narrator is superb.

What did you like best about this story?

There wasn;t any part of the book that dragged or was boring or used as filler

If you could take any character from A Walk on the Wild Side out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Halle seemed to have the best moral compass.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written exasperating novel

If one grew up in the 1950s one heard Algren much praised by such luminaries as Hemingway and Mailer, though it seemed that his two famous novels were better known as films than literature. The Man with the Golden Arm was the most prominent of the two, leaving this novel spin in airport and drugstore stands through the run of the adapted film and shortly thereafter into the latter 1960s. The title is very appropriate to a fault: the plot is a series of isolated vignettes based on the ambling protagonist, Dove Linkhorn walking and freight hopping from Texas to New Orleans. Most of the characters are depressingly poor, corrupt, and desperate as well as ghostly and unsympathetic. The narrator has it seems two three southern accents that squealed hard and a pleasant Latina accent for one character who requires that. The prose style is magnificent and it breaks my heart that such big writer writes such a tediously rowdy novel. Whitman, Langston Hughes, and Faulkner are recalled in the narration, though Algren would have been ahead to limit his dialogue as Faulkner so that one savor the richness of his very poetic narrative. The film is available on Amazon Prime, and it is both vastly different and vastly superior to the novel. John Fante and Ben Hecht drastically changed the plot and lifted suspense into the story and sympathy to each of the characters each also as miscast and stunningly excellent in performance as one could want. The novel will give the reader quite singular view of the poor urban and country dwellers and their capacity for misadventure from 1931. Reader warning: N-word used not a lot but occasionally throughout.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • STAMFORD, CT, United States
  • 09-08-19

So That’s What the Depression Was Like

“A Walk on the Wild Side” offers a bemused look at those struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder in the early years of the Great Depression. It opens in a poor Texas town in 1930, where a loud but ignorant local preaches his version of the Gospel, mostly criticizing Catholics, the Pope and the modern world.

But the book is not about the preacher, but his son, Dove Linkhorn, an illiterate, horny, goofy and sometimes mean teenager. Dove is the book’s focus, if not its hero, riding the rails out of town after an incident with the older attractive woman he’s been working for. He ends up in New Orleans, where most of the novel takes place. Dove hangs out on Perdido Street with con men, pimps and prostitutes, who are often malicious but entertaining. There is a lot of drunkenness, sex (discreetly described) and violence. Dove takes on a variety of odd jobs, always worrying about the money for another meal or another drink.

The novel provides an education into early ‘30s America and the appalling poverty and desperation wrought by the Depression. Most of the characters are out to cheat the others or escape their sorry lives. Nevertheless, there is a lot of humor, mostly based on Dove’s well-meaning ignorance. Many of the brothel scenes are comical, with easy-to-mock customers.

The book has a strong flavor for the early ‘30s. Nelson Algren occasionally pulls back to offer a panoramic view of American life in those years. The novel sometimes reminded me of “Tobacco Road,” the 1932 Erskine Caldwell novel that focused on even poorer and less educated denizens of the old South.

Keith Szarabajka was a flamboyant narrator, sometimes yelling, sometimes using accents, mostly speaking with an exaggerated drawl. He did an excellent job in holding the listener’s attention in this provocative and unusual tale.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Marjorie
  • Sacramento, CA, United States
  • 05-10-19

Poetry of the underclass

Who would expect such a poetic (and comic) description of a cast of charlatans, hobos, pimps, and whores? I was completely surprised and fascinated, not to mention entertained.