[Reading] ➶ The Day of the Locust Author Nathanael West – Saudionline.co.uk

The Day of the Locust files The Day of the Locust, read online The Day of the Locust, free The Day of the Locust, free The Day of the Locust, The Day of the Locust b5fe0f7a2 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 Nathanael West S Hollywood Is Not The Glamorous Home Of The Stars But A Seedy World Of Little People, Some Hopeful, Some Despairing, 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


10 thoughts on “The Day of the Locust

  1. says:

    Where else could they go but California, the land of sunshine and oranges Once there, they discover that sunshine isn t enough.They realize that they ve been tricked and burn with resentment Every day of their lives they read newspapers and went to the movies Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, wars The daily diet made sophisticates of them The sun is a joke Oranges can t titillate their jaded palates Nothing can ever be violent enough to make taut their slack minds and bodies They have been cheated and betrayed They have slaved and saved for nothing Just before he was assassinated, President Abraham Lincoln shared his fervent wish to visit California as soon as his term of office was over California, almost from from the moment it was admitted into the Union, has been a destination for Americans to dream about California has been promoted to the world as a place brimming with money, unbelievable opportunities, incredible weather, and beautiful people Where else could the magic of the movies be conjured All one has to do is to move to California to start evolving into a glamorous and successful person, right Well, maybe that works for some, but for most of those people washing up on the shores of California it turns out that the same reflection shows up in the mirrors in the Golden State as it did in Nebraska, Michigan, and Georgia Even kissed by sunshine and ocean breezes, the same eyes, the same mug, the same problems stare right back at them Tod Hackett lands a job at the studios painting and designing scenery for movies He had graduated from the University of Yale with a Fine Arts degree and left for California practically before the ink on his diploma was dry During his off hours, he works on a artwork called The Burning of Los Angeles The painting is taking on all the tones of all his frustrations, including his moon calf desires for a beautiful young want to be actress, Faye Greener She is as prodigiously untalented as she is exceptionally lovely Her father, a chronically ill old vaudeville star, spends his days scamming rubes with his slapstick comedy If he can make them laugh, he can probably convince them to buy his polish, as well Through her father Faye meets Homer Simpson, and no, as interesting as that would be, Matt Groening did not name his famous cartoon character after the Homer in The Day of the Locusts Simpson has moved to California, for his health, from his home state of Iowa He is repressed sexually and culturally in stereotypical Midwest fashion He allows Faye and her father to move in with him in the hopes that she will eventually succumb to his good nature because he has no conducive charm with which to induce her to fall in love with him There is a growing list of men who all circle around Faye, each hoping that she will choose to give herself to them When Tod presses her for a chance at her affection, she explains why she can never be with him He had nothing to offer her, neither money nor looks, and she could only love a handsome man and would only let a wealthy man love her Tod was a good hearted man, and she liked good hearted men, but only as friends Tod has been bit in the ass by the old, but still prevalent, problem of being too nice, and by definition, not rich enough or dangerous enough to be interesting enough to arouse passion in a silly hearted, beautiful girl with her eye on landing a Hollywood prize As a reader, I am pulling for Tod to win her, but at the same time, while trying to conjure a plausible happy future for them being together, I find that my imagination is stretched too thin in attempting to invent a scenario where she could be happy with Tod, or one where he could ever be ideal enough to keep her Tod becomes so desperate and is so consumed by lust for her that he even daydreams about various situations where he forces himself upon her.Meanwhile, his painting is taking on darker and darker overtones The novel finishes with a flourish at a gathering of people waiting to see the stars arrive for a movie premier at Mr Khan s Pleasure Dome What occurs might have just as easily been a scene in the Mel Gibson movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome The revelations are shocking and certainly bleak, but I was left wondering about Tod s state of mind by the end of the novel Is he finally free of any delusions about people, or has he lost his mind rather than letting go of his belief in humanity Nathanael WestThis is a hard hitting novel set against the backdrop of the dirty thirties when desperate times showed us the very best and very worst of people Nathanael West paints this picture with a cruel, thick brush, with slashing nerve wracking splashes of expression, this snarled bundle of dark emotions is ready to explode when reason slips the bonds of containment and all of that pent up resentment, disappointment, loneliness, heartache, and failure is allowed to escape.The American Dream in West s California is a chimera, an oasis in a desert created by a moisture starved mind If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  2. says:

    My vote for the Great American Novel The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West Why West s short novel speaks to what every single American has to deal with the falsehood of Hollywood, the ultimate con, the complete fake, the billion dollar illusion, shoved in everybody s face, like it or not.As Nathaniel West captured so brilliantly, once anything or anyone is in Hollywood, there is no escape from being converted into artificiality even a wooden chest of drawers is painted to look like unfinished wood.Adults beating the spontaneity out of children so their kid can be the next Shirley Temple How twisted Adults dressing, speaking, moving, expressing themselves in imitation of what they see on the screen How sick How appalling How American.How Nathaniel West captured it all perfectly in this Great American Novel The Day of the Locust.I love this photo capturing how the five pointed stars in the Hollywood sidewalk mirror the five pointed stars in the American flag.


  3. says:

    As some of you know, I came dangerously close to packing it in and moving to Los Angeles this winter I m from California originally, but the other California, up the Five a ways and then off to the left Where I grew up people speak of LA in the same disgusted, dismissive, and morbidly fascinated tones they used to talk about Michael Jackson before he died The Bay Area is majorly creeped out by the weirdo plastic surgery disaster of dubious morals that is Los Angeles We hate it for its car culture I guess though we drive up there too , maybe a little for the vapidly sunny weather ours isn t bad either , but really what we hate its Entertainment Industry and everything related, everything that represents We are deeply suspicious and insanely resentful of the mindless, soulless crap produced by Hollywood, of shallow surface beauty, of glitzy superficiality and the tinseled out dreams and the depressing nightmares we vaguely suspect they must engender According to Berkeley, LA is full of beautiful idiots who are banally bad people we, on the other hand, are homely, unkempt, sincere neurotics who drink great coffee and ride our bestickered bikes earnestly to independent bookstores We are a trustworthy people that judges men, women, or otherwise gender identified individuals based on their progressive political views and doctoral dissertations, not on the size of their chests, their last picture s gross, or the sparkle of their smiles LA is soul killing And it s boring and ugly.Anyway, I m getting a little off topic here, but I wanted to give some background about my personal programming regarding Hell A, and especially my horror of Hollywood and its spawn People in New York are sometimes freaked out by LA but for sort of different reasons or in a different way, in any case and it was only when I d tell old Bay Area friends I was moving that their visceral horror drove home the insanity of what I had planned Why would you ever move there they would cry The driving, ugh, and the the people. the MOVIE PEOPLE They re all MOVIE PEOPLE I know, I know, I d say But I love the weather It was February in New York and I wanted to kill myself And I really, really, really miss. You miss I miss the produce This is the truth I nearly moved to Los Angeles in large part because I haven t eaten a decent fruit or vegetable in six years This is one of those things you just take for granted growing up in California that pretty much any produce you buy is grown reasonably close and fairly recently, and that large quantities of it can be easily procured, pretty much anywhere, all year round This is simply not the case in New York City The first time I saw lettuce in a supermarket here, I almost started crying It looked like something that had been strangled by a serial killer in the Central Valley, stuffed in the trunk of a battered Impala, driven to Brooklyn the long way via Mexico , dumped in an alley behind the store, chewed on by some rats, rejected by them, then brought inside and offered for sale at something like 3 a head This kind of lettuce is fairly standard here Of course, if you re willing to shell out serious cash you can get something prettier, but you ll notice that will have been grown in California too, if it s even domestic I know how shitty I feel after traveling across the country, and I don t want eat something that s undergone that ordeal My solution to dealing with this situation has been to stop eating vegetables, so I basically just survive on pizza and bagels which are both way better here , and by smoking a pack of mentholated cigarettes whenever I get an artichoke craving.Anyway, for reasons too unbearably shocking and sordid to get into here, I did not wind up moving to LA, so I m still here in New York This took some adjustment, especially since it s been late March for about five months now it just rains all the time and is generally shitty I spend one to three hours every day in an underground tunnel, usually with my face pressed into some stranger s reeking armpit I trudge through the streets like a goddamn mule, with my bookbag over one shoulder, gym stuff on the other, feeling incredibly frumpy and oppressed I stagger miles in my heels with my life on my back, usually in the rain, having graphic fantasies about what it must like to have a trunk. A trunk in one s car, which one drives to the supermarket and loads up with Trader Joe s junkfood and a bounty of produce fresh, inexpensive, delicious produce, full of nutrients and joy..Okay, so the other day I got off work, and you know what It wasn t raining Finally And I felt pretty good I left work and stopped by my friend s bar in Tribeca to shoot the shit a little on the way to my gym, then left him with a little spring in my step, thinking well, this New York City livin ain t really so bad It s nice to be able to live one s life on foot, to pay social calls and run errands in a glamorous neighborhood, and who cares it s one so chichi I d never be able to live there, no matter what unexpected turns my life happens to take I can stroll from my office, stop and visit a friend, stroll onto the gym and then do a nice long run up alongside the Hudson River Is this really so bad It is not It is not I felt some kind of something settle in me then, and at that moment I made a new kind of peace with staying in New York You can have quality of life in this city, I thought, as the summer evening sunshine fell on the cobblestone streets and then there, as if to reward me, as I turned the corner, was a huge gorgeous sign for the Tribeca Farmers Market.My heart actually did swell at this point, like it does when the music goes in some great old movie I ve never quite understood why there isn t a Tribeca Farmers Market, seeing as how it s um, the epicenter for well heeled baby producers who live for just that sort of thing And this was really the farmers market to end all farmers markets Like pretty much everything in Tribeca, it gleamed with a patina of expensive specialness that made you just want to buy it And because it was new, it wasn t crowded at all, even though it was huge, and really seemed to have everything I don t really go to the Farmers Markets around here too much, mostly because they all seem to close down before I get off work, and then the ones that don t like the closest one to me, Saturdays in Park Slope always seem to be some big clusterfuck of strollers and pushing, and require a lot planning and stamina than I feel they re worth.But this Tribeca one was great All the produce looked incredible, heaped up in these jewel toned piles of locally grown, organic goodness Apples, carrots, greens, onions handmade honey, handmade cheese, handmade yogurt, handmade colorful signs in the stalls, all of it just real beautiful and so picturesque And I strolled through this slowly, not stopping yet, just taking it in as I blissfully thought Oh, fuck you, Los Angeles New York has it all. This place is amazing. Why would I leave, when everything s here I can live here no problem and I won t starve I was walking behind these two Scandinavian tourists who d stopped a little ahead of me to talk to one of the farmers And what a farmer this guy was The loveliest farmer for the loveliest farmers market, he was straight from Central Casting eyes twinkling in his kindly weathered face, greying hair peeking out from his slightly battered fruit selling hat and curling down over his sun reddened ears I slowed down to hear what he was telling the women, who now seemed to be looking around in confusion The farmer had just said something about Jennifer Lopez Wait, what I interrupted That s when I noticed the lady with the clipboard who d just started yelling Did you just say this is a set The farmer grinned and shrugged apologetically We re making a movie Of course you are I mumbled, shoulders sagging suddenly from the weight of my bags Of course there s no Tribeca Farmers Market I wish there was, the farmer said Try Union Square PLACES the woman with the clipboard shrieked.The farmer headed back to his stall, and I split As I stalked down the block, furiously spinning the ball of my Blackberry the only fruit there s no shortage of in this town, apparently an LA looking type clearly crapping his linen pants screamed in my face I ve got a camera coming through here Who s letting all these goddamn people walk on this street Oh fuck you, I snarled I live here Go back to LA So I was really mad when this happened, but pretty soon afterwards I decided I liked it I decided something else, too, which is that LA is great because Hollywood s great, and Hollywood s great because it s such a wonderful, durable, flexible metaphor You know the cliche about how things become cliches The Hollywood metaphor s a great cliche It s like a basic formulaic plot that s been used a thousand times, and actually a surprisingly large number of movies and books based on it are pretty fabulous The Day of the Locust isn t the best of them, but it s notable in part because it was written fairly early 1939 but because West s own cocktail of sparkling style and abject nihilism is so well suited to the topic.This book has aged in a couple jarring ways like that one of the characters is named Homer Simpson, which you d think would be fun but for me was actually a terrible distraction The story is the basic Hollywood eats your soul plot, I guess, except it s extremely bleak and depraved and hardcore and almost psychedelic and really lovely and beautiful in a certain kind of way I didn t think it was the greatest thing ever, and actually They Shoot Horses Don t They made a much bigger impact on me, though this take on Hollywood in the thirties was way Literary and specifically about Hollywood The Day of the Locust is ultimately a weird but sturdy little black comedy that should be mandatory summer reading for anyone with an interest in Hollywood and riffs on its themes which should be most people, really.Why Because we were totally wrong about LA, growing up in the Bay Area The entertainment industry isn t a dull, fluffy, fun date movie that s too dumb to think about Hollywood is ten thousand times fucked up and fascinating than anything in Berkeley, and that s why LA s amazing We didn t get what Hollywood was, looking down at it from the North and thinking there was nothing there beneath all that surface There s shit crawling around like crazy under the glitter and makeup, which has been pointed out so many times because it truly is a great theme Hollywood is a fake Farmers Market when you hate your life and you just need fresh greenbeans Hollywood is fake sets and fake people and gorgeous canyons full of flowers, and aspiring slutty starlets and cynical desperate men and sleazy Racing Form dwarves and cockfighting cowboys and sexy Mexicans and bizarre out of place costumes and studios and tequila and rapes and illegal abortions and frightening stage mothers of psychotic child actors and riots and murders and fifty other kinds of insanity. I m flipping through and remembering this is actually a pretty awesome book David Lynch could do an amazing adaptation of this Why hasn t he It d be deadly.Okay, that s enough procrastination for one night, or maybe even for a lifetime I m going to go eat some withered spinach out of a bag now, and cry myself to sleep.


  4. says:

    The DeplorablesThere is a jocular theory that at some time in the remote past the North American continental plates shifted and everything that was loose fell into California Day of the Locust confirms this hypothesis.The cast of the novel is a m nage of 1930 s drifters and grifters attracted by the movies, or the climate or the chance for a little unconventional action Mostly they are hapless obsessives who, once there, become lost in either an underworld of vice or some form of otherworldly fundamentalism.In one way or another, everyone in Los Angeles becomes an actor in order to avoid recognising the scrape they re in Tod acts like an artist and ends up part of the dereliction he portrays Faye dreams of being a film star and becomes the leading lady of her own tawdry demise Homer apparently the inspiration for the Homer Simpson cartoon wants desperately to be a settled householder and gets his wish by adopting a completely submissive role to an ungrateful Faye a transvestite is so good, he can only manage an unconvincing imitation of a male.These are the American ancestors of today s Deplorables Like the crowd that assembles for Hollywood premieres, these people do not fetch up in Hollywood, that worldwide symbol of America, without malice or reason It was a mistake to think them harmless curiosity seekers They were savage and bitter, especially the middle aged and the old, and had been made so by boredom and disappointment All their lives they had slaved at some kind of dull, heavy labor, behind desks and counters, in the fields and at tedious machines of all sorts, saving their pennies and dreaming of the leisure that would be theirs when they had enough But these people can t seem to find themselves and it irritates them They don t know what to do with their time They haven t the mental equipment for leisure, the money nor the physical equipment for pleasure Their boredom becomes and terrible They realize that they ve been tricked and burn with resentment They have been cheated and betrayed They have slaved and saved for nothing This is the America of Donald Trump a crusading mob, a great united front of screwballs and screw boxes out to purify the land.


  5. says:

    I am recommending this book to you because you should read it It is set in 2012 America, as you can see from this quote Their boredom becomes and terrible They realize that they ve been tricked and burn with resentment Every day of their lives they read the newspapers and went to the movies Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, war This daily diet made sophisticates of them The sun is a joke Oranges can t titillate their jaded palates Nothing can ever be violent enough to make taut their slack minds and bodies They have been cheated and betrayed They have slaved and saved for nothing.Ha ha, gotcha This is set in Depression era Hollywood And it is pretty fantastic And, as you can see, still disarmingly relevant And it ends with a proper Hollywood action finale And there is a character named Homer Simpson And he is heavy, slow, sweet, and oh so low And there is another man, an artist named Todd HACKett, who has sold himself out to menial, soulless painters labor for the pitchers And, and, he and Homer are in love with the same dame, who is what it appears that many an aspiring actress in Hollywood becomes a prostitute Also, a manipulative cooze And Todd has creepy rape fantasies which he associates with love feelings because he doesn t know how to deal with Homer being a proxy cuckold failure who mirrors his own self doubts and shattering failures at dry humping the American Dream And Homer truly loves the gal, and Todd truly wants to win her like a balloon at the fair, even if he has to steal her like candy from an orphan with TB and a peg leg And people try real hard to make it in the biiiiig ciiiiity, but just end up trampling one another trying to catch wind of someone else s greatness Literally And, and, andStop reading this and go read that Teeny violins all around.


  6. says:

    Rating 3 of five The Publisher Says 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.My Review It is hard to laugh at the need for beauty and romance, no matter how tasteless, even horrible, the results of that need are But it is easy to sigh Few things are sadder than the truly monstrous.Sad Yes, that s it, I feel sad This is a classic of Hollywood literature, I can even sort of see that, but it s as bleak as they come and it s all told, very little shown, at very crucial points If this is a novel, I m at a loss to see how it s some biting character studies glued together by accidents of geography To me it reads like a treatment that had to be abandoned, was too dear to West s heart shaped ice cube, and instead got its B12 shots, 50,000 volts, and liiiiiived.So Tod Death in German, get it HACKett movie hanger on, usu a writer, get it falls for the vapidity that is bleached blonde Faye Greener, as does poor rube a licious Homer Simpson , as does no bit extra Earle ShoopI suspect, from some of Faye s father s mannerisms, that he and Faye got up to the badger game a time or two What in the name of common sense is the appeal She s hard as nails, not terribly bright, and unbelievably self centered I couldn t abide her from the moment West put this in her mouth I m going to be a star some day, she announced as though daring him to contradict her I m sure you It s my life It s the only thing in the whole world that I want It s good to know what you want I used to be a bookkeeper in a hotel,but If I m not, I ll commit suicide That wasn t fresh and new in 1939, either I agree that this person exists in her legions at every doorway to stardom, but Faye doesn t rise above that generic feel at any turn After each encounter with Faye, particularly the apr s cockfight cocktail party and its aftermath, I want to ask West, AND What is it, why are these men so hot to trot for this trollop He s dead these 74 years, so he won t answer even if I shout, so I m left bewildered.Homer Simpson, apparently the lovable loser who gave cartoonist Matt Groening the name for his quarter century old cartoon oaf, is the most realistic and fully drawn character in the piece In creating Homer, West has fully focused our attention on him and relegated narrator Tod to the Nick Carraway position as he focuses on Homer and his back story, his sad and empty existence the part about the deck chair and the view is one of the best an most telling character tics West ladles on to Homer , and his doom in the original Celtic meaning of Bha so an d n duit, this was destined for thee Homer tries and misses, tries and misses again, tries He s never, ever the fun guy or the sweet guy, he s the useful but horrendously annoying guy with the car and the cards.Only those who still have hope can benefit from tears When they finish, they feel better But to those without hope, whose anguish is basic and permanent, no good comes from crying Nothing changes for them They usually know this, but still can t help crying.His passion for the cipher Faye comes to its absolutely clearly telegraphed and inevitable conclusion, Tod twitters and flails ineffectually to interfere with it, and in the end it drives both Tod and Homer into the climactic ending of the book Their boredom becomes and terrible They realize that they ve been tricked and burn with resentment Every day of their lives they read the newspapers and went to the movies Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, war This daily diet made sophisticates of them The sun is a joke Oranges can t titillate their jaded palates Nothing can ever be violent enough to make taut their slack minds and bodies They have been cheated and betrayed They have slaved and saved for nothing.And this at last wove the book together for me, made the preceding 200pp make some sense to me This is West s cri de coueur and shout to the gods that Prometheus is back to make trouble again.A year later he was dead Hm.There is no smallest question that West can craft some lovely sentences and some incisive character sketches He can hang all them on a plot of sorts and make your readerly curiousity bump itch so bad you have to scratch it with his tyrannosaurus armed stories, even at the risk of running afoul of the brute s severing teeth But here, in this book, the alchemy that elevates Miss Lonelyhearts to the cold and glittering glory of Everest s heights settles instead into the weirder, less pristine shape of Kilimanjaro Feet in the humid heat, midsection arid and weirdly populated with things not seen elsewhere, and then the transcendent snowy glory of the ending.Some years back, my real life book circle read What Makes Sammy Run by Budd Schulberg Sammy Glick, he of the title, is a character I can t forget and find myself thinking about Sammy s is a story of hustle and flow, make and do and createTod never does one damned thing in this book except chase Faye and wander around Yet which of these two books has been made into a movie Not the solid, excellent What Makes Sammy Run , no sirree, but this collection of grotesques gets made In a weird sort of way, The Day of the Locust feels to me like a precursor to the viciously cuttingly unfunny humor of A Confederacy of Dunces Both are utterly of a place, can t be told against the backdrop of any other place, and are pitilessly clear of vision Both are the best remembered works by their early dead authors And each is, taken on its own merits, marvelous parts in search of a gestalt to animate into than some wonderful, memorable set pieces embedded in perfunctory plotlike matrices This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


  7. says:

    The Day of the Locust is a very good book about a very bad taste She posed, quivering and balanced, on the doorstep and looked down at the two men in the patio She was smiling, a subtle half smile uncontaminated by thought She looked just born, everything moist and fresh, volatile and perfumed And bad taste, aggravated with mass stupidity, becomes monstrous taste Their boredom becomes and terrible They realize that they ve been tricked and burn with resentment Every day of their lives they read the newspapers and went to the movies Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, war This daily diet made sophisticates of them Pop culture calls for conformity, erases individuality, destroys intellect, turns society into a dumb crowd and then drives this buzzing swarm mad.


  8. says:

    We were watching 42nd Street from the tough year of 1933 the other night and my daughter was than somewhat surprised at the risqu nature of some of the zingers in the first 15 minutes, such as Abner, who is bankrolling the new show I d like to do something for you if you d do something for me Dorothy Brock, the leading lady Why, Mr Dillon, I d be very glad to Stage hand You remember Ann Lowell Stage manager Not Anytime Annie Who could forget her She only said no once, when she didn t hear the question.Stage manager Okay, those three girls on the left If I were you I d keep them.Director I suppose if I don t you ll have to.Stage manager What s your name Chorus girl Diane Lorrimer, 333 Park Avenue.Fellow chorine in stage whisper And is her homework tough The whole movie rests on the assumed notion that the real currency of the world of showbiz is not money, it s sexual favours And the chorus girls are very likely hooking, with some of them daintily trying to pretend they re not As the great song Lullaby of Broadway puts it When a Broadway baby says Good night, It s early in the morning.Manhattan babies don t sleep tight until the dawn Good night, baby,Good night, milkman s on his wayThe Day of the Locust is set in Hollywood, not Broadway, but the rapacious slobbering over and trading in young female flesh is the exact same Quite shocking it is, too, for the modern reader the leading lady in this teensy acidulous bedlam of a novel is all of 17 years old and a wannabe movie actress and like almost everyone else in this book is stony broke and so just naturally contemplates joining a call girl service, and does so too Which drives the leading gentleman of this story not a little demented Makes him frantically figure if he could afford her for a couple of nights, but realises he couldn t.The whole thing reads like the novel Tom Waits would have written if he da been born way back when and had a deal patience In fact it reads like his song monologue 9th and Hennepin the moon s teeth marks are on the skyAnd the broken umbrellas are like dead birdsAnd the steam comes out of the grillLike the whole goddam town is ready to blowAnd the bricks are all scarred with jailhouse tattoosAnd everyone is behaving like dogsAnd all the rooms they smell like dieselAnd you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept thereAnd I m lost in the windowAnd I hide in the stairwayAnd I hang in the curtainAnd I sleep in your hatAnd no one brings anything small into a bar around hereAnd the girl behind the counter has a tattooed tearShe has that razor sadness that only gets worseWith the clang and the thunder of the Southern Pacific going byAnd the clock ticks out like a dripping faucetTill you re full of rag water and bitters and blue ruinAnd you spill out over the side to anyone who ll listenSo here are your losers, bores, chumps, no hopers, hopheads, drunks, the flotsam of the infested scummy shores of outer Hollywood, there s no story here, just some or less connected scenes of a pitchblack nature at which it s hard to smile unless you get your fun from watching autopsies, the only laughter is the staccato near hysteria inappropriate sort you try to suppress at the scene of an accident It s real nasty stuff then at the end it all goes to hell in a major crowd scene symbolical sort of way If you re looking for the milk of human kindness it done got syphoned out the tank, try another book.3.5 stars


  9. says:

    A dark and foreboding look at 1930 s Los Angeles where screen writer Tod Hackett falls for aspiring young actress Fay Greener, but this is a long way from being a love story and has an atmosphere filled with dread, sexual tension and desperate lives, where everything felt like a surreal nightmare than a Hollywood dream, and although on the short side, West captures this era perfectly, where the glitz and glamour of the movie industry becomes an obsession for those with high hopes of hitting the big time, no matter what the cost With the added bonus of containing one of my favourite ever endings, this was an absorbing read hard to forget.


  10. says:

    The Great Depression might not sound like a particularly comforting background for a narrative, but for an inexplicable reason it strangely enough turns out to be in The Day of the Locust , Nathanael West s often overlooked masterpiece West has chosen Hollywood and its amalgamation of wannabe movie stars, hangers on, generic cowboys, agents and prostitutes as the scenario for his 1939 novel His ostentatious tinseltown is a place where dreams are rarely fulfilled, but rather where they come to die an often slow and painful death We only peripherally hear about the real Hollywood stars, as the leading men and women in West s universe are the indisputable losers and pursuivants in the carnival of fools that are often as hollow as the glittering world they inhabit The bawdy chaos that litters their comings and goings seems hilarious at first, but when it merely abates to be reignited and replayed over and over again, the unbearable notion of everlasting despair rapidly begins to penetrate the ultra thin time worn veneer West offers up a weakened imitation of a Hollywood masquerade drained through the proximity to the make believe of the silver screen and its sycophantic admiration for its own artificiality, and though his characters on the surface seem too ridiculous to be true an Arizonan cowboy, a cockfighting Mexican, a book keeping angry dwarf and a wannabe teenage starlet, and that their often overlapping trials seem too outlandish, their absurd tribulations nevertheless envelop the reader in a distorted kaleidoscopic universe that refuses to let go I found it remarkable how poignant this novel is and how well it resonates in a contemporary society where the many still look for acceptance by the few at the top of an exclusive hierarchy that so successfully has learned to master its own grotesqueness through a process of alienation and abandonment It was genuinely amazing how the novel s combination of despaired escapism and hollow contemporariness continues to spellbind nearly eight decades after it was originally published.The poetic and elucidatory language is routinely inventive and the predominately absurd characters are all brilliantly captured and described Their ludicrously exaggerated and often gaudy, alcohol infused collective behavior on their way to inexorable oblivion makes their miserable dissimulation a compelling and thought provoking read.


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