Banks cited Algren’s 5 or 6 books that are “deathless,” wondering why he’s not in the canon these days. In his time he was mentioned alongside Hemingway and Dostoevsky. He used to grouse to Banks about, besides Preminger, Simone DeBeauvoir, who he had been entangled in an affair with. She objectified him “in a way only French intellectuals could do to Americans, as a figure of authenticity and existential courage.”

Considering that Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis are going to star as Nelson Algren + Simone de Beauvoir in a film called My American Friend, I thought now would be as good a time as any to report on what Russell Banks said about Algren at a special reading that I attended. (It was Banks, a jolly sort, and the excellently dark Don Delillo; Algren was a mentor to both of them. I’m currently reading End Zone by Delillo. It goes nicely with Girls’ cover of “End of the World.” My S.O. says Phillip Glass goes well with Delillo, too.)