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Extended Audio Sample The Man with the Golden Arm Audiobook, by Nelson Algren Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,149 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Nelson Algren Narrator: Malcolm Hillgartner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2014 ISBN: 9781483018881
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Winner of the first National Book Award in 1950, this modern classic takes us into the gritty underbelly of post–World War II America. It is the story of “Frankie Machine,” a veteran, drug addict, and card-dealer in an illicit poker game being run in Chicago’s near northwest side. Frankie has just returned from the federal prison for narcotics addicts in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was exposed to all the pressures, anxieties, and temptations that had put him there in the first place.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This is a man writing and you should not read it if you cannot take a punch…Mr. Algren can hit with both hands and move around and he will kill you if you are not awfully careful…Mr. Algren, boy, you are good.”

    Ernest Hemingway

  • “A true novelist’s triumph.”

    Time

  • “A classic portrayalstylish, atmospheric and moving.”

    Independent on Sunday (London)

  • “A thriller that packs more of a punch than pulp fiction and more grittiness than either Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett.”

    Scotsman (Edinburgh)

  • Winner of the first National Book Award in 1950

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 imakecake | 2/20/2014

    " What a book. Beautifully written, depressing and vaguely confusing - it was first published in 1949. It's one of those that 'tells it like it is' while simultaneously blurring the book's reality. Not light reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jay | 2/19/2014

    " I did not read this book, but I listed it because of the movie with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. I was seven years old at the time when I watched it with my dad. He was reading the book and the book was sitting on the end table and I remember reading the title of the book and was surprised the movie had the same title. That impressed a 7 year old a lot. A movie and a book of the same title, wow. That movie scared the living hell out of me and made an impression in my mind that a book could do that as well. I wanted to read so bad that I started reading my dad's books. I may not of understood a lot what I read but I did it any ways. To this day, The Man with the Golden Arm, is the reason I still read books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James | 2/13/2014

    " Exceptionally enjoyable and well written. It also gets a bonus point for being pretty much entirely set within 2 blocks of my apartment. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Noah | 2/12/2014

    " An amazing exercise in writing and wordcraft, this story of difficult times and difficult lives shows the fleeting beauty in the lives and locations of stumblebums, gamblers and junkies who lived on Chicago's west side in the 1940s. Few works capture human pain and the desire to escape so well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Gallin-Parisi | 2/2/2014

    " "Like drinking a sunrise out of a paper bag," a favorite quote of a friend which describes The Man with the Golden Arm. This book is like slowly sipping on a ragged sunrise, a very north-rising sunrise, blotted out by snow and neon signs, taking a long time to sweep upward. Algren does include few passages that drag a tiny bit. I noticed whenever I felt the pace slowing down, that I switched my focus from the character's jazzy verbage to the precise details of light, loneliness, and despair rendered by Algren's all-knowing narrator. The sadness vibe feels like a person searching for a clear view of the sky, seeing sunshine barely visible behind all the gray, snowy clouds of addiction and poverty. Also, the sky is blocked by El cars, fire escapes, stairwells, and concrete sidewalks. I felt my focus pulled downward, always scanning the ground of the 1940's Chicago landscape. I was disappointed not to learn more about Sparrow at the end of the novel because his hopeful, jokey, seemingly stupid - but smart - actions contrasted with the depression of other characters. The Bill Savage essay in the 50th Anniversary edition is also really excellent, illuminating a wonderful scene of the Record Head Bednar questioning the long line-up of people in jail. His responses to every person's answer are hilarious and worrisome. Bednar's complete lack of response to a preacher who explains, "We are all members of one another," is a source of continual reflection throughout the book. Bednar struggles and never understands the meaning of the preacher's explanation, that he is human after all, just like the rest of the people he questions, answers, and judges. This paradox of pondering everybody being human, without understanding exactly how that can be is one of the most interesting questions Algren suggests. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jon | 1/27/2014

    " Absolutely stunning and heartbreaking. Algren's masterpiece and a must read for any fan of fiction that isn't afraid to dwell on the dark side for awhile. Frankie Machine may be the lead character, but the character that drives the story most is Chicago itself. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robert | 1/26/2014

    " Its a good book, but I prefer the short stories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael | 1/18/2014

    " Wonderfully evocative of a particular time and place, depths of addiction and loneliness, hope and despair. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hoffman Humphrey | 1/15/2014

    " Gold standard for Nat'l Book Awards. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andre | 12/23/2013

    " The Man with the Golden Arm is a painful look into the lives of post war Chicago tenements. While the story is depressing as well as the subject matter, Algren's writing elevates above the grit and gives us an important glimpse into a time period in American life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Frank Farrell | 12/16/2013

    " Almost too lyrical for its subject matter but still a cult classic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christopher Sutch | 12/4/2013

    " Very grueling to get through, but the prose is outstanding and there are some very interesting characters and some humor. The style is what stands out the most, though. Excellently written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lou | 10/31/2013

    " Review and excerpts to come. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Corey | 10/22/2013

    " I'm ashamed to say I only got halfway through this. It felt so claustrophobic that I threw it to the floor and ran outside in my underwear. To Algren's fans everywhere I offer sincere regrets. I admired what I read but I didn't want to read anymore. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Gemmato | 9/5/2013

    " So much poetry in this, my favorite of his novels. If I could only have a tote bag of books to be stranded somewhere with Man With The Golden Arm would be in there. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mark Aubart | 8/22/2013

    " Total disappointment. Read 40% and writing seems like schlock; maybe it was terrific back then but it's forgettable and depressing today... In my opinion, that is... Of course.... Not even worth finishing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill | 7/6/2013

    " You can make anything beautiful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Polomoche | 6/16/2013

    " Its a great book... not my favorite but the writing and setting is terrific "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelly | 6/9/2013

    " Read for a Literature of Chicago class. Very bleak realist novel set in the Polish ghetto of 1940s Chicago. This is a novel about people near the bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder just getting by, day to day. Made into a spectacularly crappy movie with Frank Sinatra "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela Bain | 10/22/2012

    " Difficult to get through but it had a good story line "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josh | 8/18/2012

    " It's Algren, but it ain't Never Come Morning. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Willie | 5/8/2012

    " The real look at desire... how to understand the forces involved with life! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dianne | 10/18/2011

    " The famous, more highly acclaimed Algren. I prefer the other. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Frank | 4/26/2011

    " Almost too lyrical for its subject matter but still a cult classic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 11/19/2010

    " The story of a man addicted (monkey on his back) to heroin (golden arm) and his fight to come back although his crippled wife and gambling friends want him to stay addicted so everything will remain the same. Excellent story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andre | 10/27/2010

    " The Man with the Golden Arm is a painful look into the lives of post war Chicago tenements. While the story is depressing as well as the subject matter, Algren's writing elevates above the grit and gives us an important glimpse into a time period in American life. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mark | 7/14/2010

    " Total disappointment. Read 40% and writing seems like schlock; maybe it was terrific back then but it's forgettable and depressing today... In my opinion, that is... Of course.... Not even worth finishing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris | 4/28/2010

    " I had a hard time getting into this book. There is some great writing here, but a book shouldn't take me 8 months to finish. I guess it just wasn't "my type" of book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christopher | 3/25/2010

    " Very grueling to get through, but the prose is outstanding and there are some very interesting characters and some humor. The style is what stands out the most, though. Excellently written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tom | 8/25/2009

    " I found this to be really bleak. The life of a junkie in the 50's. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 6/30/2009

    " Do not be deterred by the first hundred pages! If plot is not your priority, I highly recommend this book. I have never read such hauntingly gorgeous descriptions of loneliness. "

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About the Author
Author Nelson Algren

Nelson Algren (1909–1981), now considered one of America’s finest novelists, was born in Detroit and lived most of his life in Chicago. His jobs included migrant worker, journalist, and medical worker. He is the author of five novels, including The Man with the Golden Arm, which was the winner of the first National Book Award.

About the Narrator

Malcolm Hillgartner is an actor, author, playwright, and professional narrator. Under the name Jahnna N. Malcolm, he and his wife, Jahnna Beecham, have written over one hundred books for young readers; their musicals have played in theaters across America. His audiobook credits include works by Dean Koontz, Nelson Algren, and William F. Buckley Jr. He has won four AudioFile Earphones Awards.