Mar 272011

The Nelson Algren Committee hosted the 22nd annual Nelson Algren Birthday Party last night at the Wicker Park Arts Center, 2215 W. North Avenue in Chicago’s Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood, the center of Algren’s fictional world. The Party is an entertaining and edifying tribute to the National Book Award-winning author of The Man with the Golden ArmThe Neon WildernessChicago: City on the Make and other works that reveal Chicago from the bottom up.

The event also celebrates community artists and activists whose work reflects Algren’s own feisty compassion. This year’s recipients of the Nelson Algren Committee Award include artist, organizer and free speech crusader Chris Drew, neighborhood writer, performer and educator Maritza Nazario, media reformer Scott Sanders, and humane animal husbandry and food safety advocate Richard Wood.

As always, the party featured a wide range of poetry and performance. This year’s edition included (among others) Algren scholar Mike Jones from the University of Connecticut; noted local poets Michael C. WatsonGregorio Gomez and Paul Friedrich; musician/memoirist/screenwriter Josh Friedman, who talked about Algren’s friendship with his father, humorist Bruce Jay Friedman; hobo scholar and historic re-enactor Paul Durica; legendary blues and stride pianist Erwin Helfer; activist and writer Maureen Murphy, a victim (as was Algren) of FBI harassment; Franco-American novelist Delphine Pontvieux, who read from the letters of feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir to her beloved Nelson; music from the band Friends of Chloe (and others), and performance by veteran Chicago actors Gary Houston and Richard Henzel. In addition, the group celebrated Algren’s induction into the first “class” of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame and, as always, saluted his entry into the world (or at least Detroit, where he was born 102 years ago) with treats and a rousing rendition of Sto Lat, the Polish birthday song.

Committee members Warren Leming and Hugh Iglarsh MC’ed this year’s event, ably assisted by members Nina GaspichAlice Prus, Charlie Newman and Kurt Jacobsen. When the Committee started in the late 1980s, just a few years after Algren’s death, his work was out of print. In 2011, his books are available (even in the Chicago Public Library, which once took Never Come Morning off the shelves), he’s commemorated with a plaque and a fountain, City on the Make has recently been dramatized, and a movie starring Johnny Depp is reportedly in the works. But he is still under-read, under-appreciated and under the radar – as illustrated by the fact that he has never been included in the city’s “One Book, One Chicago” program – and the Committee’s work goes on. For updates and more information, visit the Web site at or call the Algren Hotline at (773) 235-4267.  (text written by H.Iglarsh)

Here’s the article that came out in the Reader:

from the Red Eye blog:

Chicago tribune:

Mar 202011

Back from my book tour in Florida, which was a great success, I want to thank everyone who made it possible, i.e. Coco for the AC/BC book club in Wellington, Michelle and the amazing team at Saks for the Saks Fifth avenue book signing in Palm Beach, Francis at la Cigale for the book signing in Delray Beach, and of course everyone who came to the book signings, and all the AC/BC book club members. Please find below photos of the different events.

AC/BC book club in Wellington, FL:

17 members of the book club were in attendance to discuss ETA-Estimated Time of Arrest with author Delphine Pontvieux.

The house was decorated for the occasion, and Kathy, owner of People Will Talk catering, prepared a special menu for the event. Many of the recipes for the Basque tapas came from the book PINTXATU (available at a special price of 25$ on the Miss Nyet website only,) and the cd compilation that comes with the book provided an energetic soundtrack for the evening.

click here for photos :

Book signing at Saks Fifth Avenue:

This was a repeat visit from November 2010. Everything was top notch again, from the gorgeous location of the signing table by the entrance doors, to the sweet treats served with champagne.

As if this were not enough, every person who bought a copy of ETA or Pintxatu (or both!) was given a large Saks Fifth Avenue tote bag (in a choice of turquoise or coral) filled with perfume, beauty creams, make up and haircare samples.

Please click here to view the photos of the event:

Book signing at La Cigale in Delray Beach, FL

Not only La Cigale is a great spot to enjoy a cocktail on any given evening, the French food, with a Mediterranean flair, is absolutely phenomenal and the people who work there are wonderful.

Francis, the owner, and his team had reserved a whole  room to set up the tables for the book signing, and there was a 2-for-1 drink special offered for the duration of the event.

Please click here to view the photos of the event:

Again, thank you, Florida, for a wonderful time.

Mar 152011

For all who speak/read French, please check out my latest article published in France Amerique magazine: