Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West

Even though I'd already read, owned, and gotten rid of a copy of Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust years ago, when I spotted this new edition from New Directions, I couldn't resist picking up a copy and revisiting these two short novels. Each set in the Depression, one in New York, the other in Hollywood, they're even darker, bleaker, and more powerful than I remembered. In Miss Lonelyhearts, a New York newspaper advice columnist starts to break down under the pathetic and futile letters he receives from people begging for advice for which he has no answer. The Day of the Locust is a scathing look at Hollywood, exploring its seamy underbelly--seedy apartments, violence, desperate people dreaming of fame, people who have, as the narrator says, "come to California to die."

I love the simplicity of the design (which is what caught my eye in the first place)--the black hearts and bars (or are they film strips), with their hand-drawn quality, against the pink and blue.

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