Cover image for The day of the locust
Title:
The day of the locust
Author:
West, Nathanael, 1903-1940.
Personal Author:
Edition:
Aeonian Press edition.
Publication Information:
[Mattituck, N.Y.] : [Amereon], 1976.

©1939
Physical Description:
[xx, 139 pages] ; 22 cm
General Note:
Reprint. Originally published: New York : Random House, 1939.

Also published by Buccaneer Books.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780899663029
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

The Day of the Locust is a novel about Hollywood and its corrupting touch, about the American dream turned into a sun-drenched California nightmare. Nathaniel West's Hollywood is not the glamorous "home of the stars" but a seedy world of little people, some hopeful, some desparing, all twisted by their by their own desires-from the ironically romantic artist narrator to a macho movie cowboy, a middle-aged innocent from America's heartland, and the hard-as-nails call girl would-be-star whom they all lust after. An unforgettable portrayal of a world that mocks the real and rewards the sham, turns its back on love to plunge into empty sex, and breeds a savage violence that is its own undoing, this novel stands as a classic indictment of all that is most extravagant and uncontrolled in American life.


Author Notes

American novelist Nathanael West was born in New York City, the son of a prosperous building contractor. He began his college education at Tufts University but transferred to Brown University, from which he graduated in 1924. After graduation, West went to Europe and lived in Paris for a few years, where he wrote the short novel The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1931), an avant--garde work that reflected his concern with the emptiness of contemporary life. West's modest legacy of completed works reached its peak of recognition during the period when later Jewish American writers were discovering black humor. Among novels that chronicle the wasteland despair and grotesque comedy of the time between the wars, West's Miss Lonelyhearts (1933) and The Day of the Locust (1939) stand out as remarkable examples. The first is about a young man conducting a column of advice to the lovelorn who finds it increasingly impossible not to share the problems of his readers. The Day of the Locust story about a riot that ends with the burning of Los Angeles. If Franz Kafka (see Vol. 2) had lived to come to the United States and become a screenwriter, he might have written a book like The Day of the Locust, which Malcolm Cowley called the best novel ever written about Hollywood. West's other short novel, A Cool Million (1934), is, like The Dream Life of Balso Snell, an experimental work that offers variations on the theme of reality and illusion; both works look toward a literature of the absurd and deserve their place in literary history as influences on a school of American writers that came into prominence during the 1960s.

West's own life had aspects of tragic absurdity. He was married to Eileen McKenney, the original of the central figure in My Sister Eileen, while his own sister became the wife of humorist S. J. Perelman. After writing Miss Lonelyhearts, West and his wife went to Hollywood and remained there until they were both killed in a car accident in 1940.

(Bowker Author Biography)


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