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The Day of the Locust (1939)

by Nathanael West

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,657458,240 (3.63)56
Admired by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and Dashiell Hammett, and hailed as one of the "Best 100 English-language novels" byTime magazine,The Day of the Locust continues to influence American writers, artists, and culture. Bob Dylan wrote the classic song "Day of the Locusts" in homage and Matt Groening's Homer Simpson is named after one of its characters. No novel more perfectly captures the nuttier side of Hollywood. Here the lens is turned on its fringes -- actors out of work, film extras with big dreams, and parents lining their children up for small roles. But it's the bit actress Faye Greener who steals the spotlight with her wildly convoluted dreams of stardom: "I'm going to be a star some day--if I'm not I'll commit suicide."… (more)
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» See also 56 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
A little obvious in its symbolism and its exposition of its symbolism but I'm a sucker for what it's about. ( )
  Popple_Vuh | Oct 24, 2021 |
A novel like this you have to evaluate it in the time it was written. Characters are racist, sexist and in general not from this time anymore. It's a hard one to read even with an understanding that those were different times in the 30s. Still, it's clear why this is a classic with its vivid description of Hollywood in its exploration of talkies, movies with sound.

There is not much to be found here in terms of a plot and you have to conclude that this is mainly a character study. I kept wondering if in about a hundred years we will think the same way about the novel Less Than Zero as we now do about this one.

It's a hard one to read with today's standards and sensibilities but it's also worth it if only to see how far we've come. If you are curious about Hollywood in the 30s and you like a total immersion in the days when the place started to gain its stride then this book is highly recommended. If you're looking for a good read then perhaps a different book fits the bill. ( )
  TheCriticalTimes | Sep 19, 2021 |
The setting is Hollywood in the 1930's. I believe the author was trying to show his contempt for Hollywood and its corrupting morals. The man character, Faye, is abusive, both physically and emotionally. A really bleak book, nothing redeeming. 160 pages ( )
  Tess_W | Aug 16, 2021 |
What a strange little book. ( )
  SarahRita | Aug 11, 2021 |
ugh. ( )
  flemertown | Jul 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
The year 1939, when Europe was going up in flames and America clung to the hope that it need not become part of a world at war, turned out to be a miracle moment for Los Angeles fiction, seeing the publication of "The Big Sleep" by Raymond Chandler, John Fante's "Ask The Dust," and "The Day of the Locust" by Nathanael West (the latter just reissued in a new edition, along with "Miss Lonelyhearts," by New Directions, $11.95), three books that distilled distinctly and in very different ways the city that was being written about, and have continued to dictate how Los Angeles is perceived today.
 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
West, Nathanaelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boos, CeesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fruttero, CarloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Güttinger, FritzTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lustig, AlvinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schulberg, BuddIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Around quitting time, Tod Hackett heard a great din on the road outside his office.
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Admired by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and Dashiell Hammett, and hailed as one of the "Best 100 English-language novels" byTime magazine,The Day of the Locust continues to influence American writers, artists, and culture. Bob Dylan wrote the classic song "Day of the Locusts" in homage and Matt Groening's Homer Simpson is named after one of its characters. No novel more perfectly captures the nuttier side of Hollywood. Here the lens is turned on its fringes -- actors out of work, film extras with big dreams, and parents lining their children up for small roles. But it's the bit actress Faye Greener who steals the spotlight with her wildly convoluted dreams of stardom: "I'm going to be a star some day--if I'm not I'll commit suicide."

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"The Day of the Locust" is the celebrated 1939 novel about the Great Depression, set in Hollywood, California, its over-arching themes dealing with the alienation and desperation of a broad group of odd individuals who exist at the fringes of the Hollywood movie industry. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Day of the Locust #73 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Time magazine included the novel in its list of 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.

Novel by Nathanael West about the savagery lurking beneath the Hollywood dream. Published in 1939, it is one of the most striking examples of the "Hollywood novel" in American fiction. Tod Hackett, a set designer, becomes involved in the lives of several individuals who have been warped by their proximity to the artificial world of Hollywood. Hackett's completion of his painting "The Burning of Los Angeles" coincides with the explosion of the other characters' unfulfilled dreams in a conflagration of riot and murder. --The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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