From the Vault of Art Shay: Happy Birthday, Nelson

By Staff in News on Mar 23, 2011 4:00PM

I see from Time Out that my pal Nelson Algren's The Man with the Golden Arm was beaten out by Saul Bellow's Augie March in the greatest Chicago novel sweepstakes. Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and a few others were also axed out by the prodigious Bellow.

It is hard to believe that I will attend Nelson's 102nd birthday party Saturday night and say a few words as the nearly last living link between Algren and the crowd of his fans-many of them young- who come to Wicker Park each March 20th or so to share cupcakes with lit candles, and a program of readings, sing-alongs and plays dedicated to him. I haven't been tapped for a slide show this year, which gives me an excuse to show you a few of my favorite pictures and - for the first time anywhere- postcards from the great man I met when he had just turned 40 around 1949.

The 26th annual Nelson Algren Birthday party will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Wicker Park Art Center (2215 W. North Ave.) Art Shay will be in attendance.

If you can't wait until this time every Wednesday to get your Art Shay fix, please check out the photographer's blog, which is updated regularly. Art Shay's book, Nelson Algren's Chicago, is also available at Amazon.