‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

The Day of the Locust

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“Scattered among these masquerades were people of a different type. Their clothing was somber and badly cut, bought from mail-order houses. While the others moved rapidly, darting into stores and cocktail bars, they loitered on the corners or stood with their backs to the show windows and stared at everyone who passed. When their stare was returned, their eyes filled with hatred. At this time Tod knew very little about them except that they had come to California to die.” – The Day of the Locust – Nathanael West –

n1800251 The story centers around a group of misfit individuals who work on the outside of the Hollywood Film Industry. The real sadness is that these individuals seem to be unaware, if not unaware, then at least willfully blind of their condition.  The artist, the fading vaudevillian, the starlet, the everyman, the gangster, the cowboy, the child star/prima donna, and the doting mother.

Set in the late 1930’s, just before WWII. What this book presents is the exact opposite of what Hollywood is touted to be for so much of the time. B-Movie stars stuck in a land that only privileges the A.

Despite these sad figures that dominate the landscape of the novel, there is something beautiful, beautiful and vulgar about the way that these characters insist on living their life, in fighting for their dream. I am not sure if that is a hopeful image or a tragic one.

It’s a quick read and well worth your time. There was a definite Hemingway The Sun Also Rises feel to this novel. Some of that same bleak sit around and wander, not really sure where to go. The pacing of the novel was a bit slow but I found it allowed for a more in depth exploration of the characters. The ending of the novel is quite disturbing and presents an image that will not go away anytime soon. Check it out at the library or bookstore. Worth it and as I said, a fairly quick read. I finished this in one day. Penguin: 183 pp.

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