Synopses & Reviews
— compared by Flannery O'Connor to Faulkner's As I Lay Dying
— is about a newspaper reporter assigned to write the agony column, but, caught up in a vision of suffering, he seeks a way out (through Art, Sex, Religion), only to be rebuffed at every turn by his cynical editor Shrike.
The Day of the Locust — considered by many to be the best novel ever written about Hollywood — is about Tod Hackett, who hopes for a career in set design only to discover the boredom and emptiness of Hollywood's inhabitants. In the end, only blood will serve. The day of the locust is at hand...
These two dark stories, and the most notable works of the short career of Nathanael West, remain stunningly powerful pieces of fiction more than 75 years after their original publication.
"A primer for Big Bad City disillusionment, unsparing in its portrayal of New York's debilitating entropy." The Village Voice
During his years in Hollywood West wroteThe Day of the Locust, a study of the fragility of illusion. Many critics consider it with F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished masterpiece The Last Tycoon (1941) among the best novels written about Hollywood. Set in Hollywood during the Depression, the narrator, Tod Hackett, comes to California in the hope of a career as a painter for movie backdrops but soon joins the disenchanted second-rate actors, technicians, laborers and other characters living on the fringes of the movie industry. Tod tries to seduce Faye Greener; she is seventeen. Her protector is an old man named Homer Simpson. Tod finds work on a film called prophetically The Burning of Los Angeles, and the dark comic tale ends in an apocalyptic mob riot outside a Hollywood premiere, as the system runs out of control. "
About the Author
In 1940, when an automobile accident prematurely claimed Nathanael West's life, he was a relatively obscure writer, the author of only four short novels. West's reputation has grown considerably since then and he is now considered one of the 20th century's major authors. Born in New York, West worked as the night manager of the Kenmore Hotel on East 23rd Street in Manhattan, as a contract scriptwriter for Columbia Pictures in Hollywood, and as a screenwriter for RKO Radio Picture.
Jonathan Lethem is the author of six novels, including the bestsellers The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He lives in Brooklyn and Maine.