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Nathanael West (1903–1940)

Author of Miss Lonelyhearts & the Day of the Locust


Also includes: Nathaniel West (3)

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Short biography
Nathan Wallenstein Weinstein wrote four works; Miss Lonelyhearts, The Day of the Locust, A Cool Million and The Dream Life of Balso Snell. They are, unfortunately, published in many combinations. He was the child of German-speaking Russian-Jewish parents living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He dropped out of high school and gained admission to college by falsifying his high school transcript. Although he didn't achieve well academically, he read extensively, favoring French surrealists and British and Irish poets, and befriended writers in and around New York City, including William Carlos Williams and Dashiell Hammett. In 1931, West published his first work, The Dream Life of Balso Snell. In 1933, he got contract as a scriptwriter for Columbia Pictures and moved to Hollywood. Many of the films he worked on were B-movies, such as "Five Came Back." West published his novel The Day of the Locust in 1934, taking many of the settings and minor characters directly from his experience living in a hotel on Hollywood Boulevard. He and his wife were both killed in a car accident in 1940.
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