Review- West, “Miss Lonelyhearts”

Nathanael West, “Miss Lonelyhearts” (1933) – This is a sixty-ish page novella by the author of the great Hollywood novel “The Day of the Locust.” Miss Lonelyhearts (we never learn his real name) is an advice columnist for a contemporary — that is, Depression-era — New York newspaper. He’s assailed by the woes of his correspondents and by his own impotence to help them, and also his boss, Mr. Shrike, trolls him all the time. He tries various things — booze, country getaways, affairs — but nothing helps. The consequences of his coping mechanisms catch up with him, in the end- an ironic Christ figure, Christ but a incapable sinner who gets owned all the time, he does get his martyrdom in the end. Wikipedia describes this as “expressionist” and if this means work that’s a thinly-described bummer, that sounds about right. It’s not bad but “The Day of the Locust” is better and more fleshed out. ***

Review- West, “Miss Lonelyhearts”

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