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The Day of the Locust (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – September 6, 1983

ISBN-13: 978-0451523488 ISBN-10: 0451523482

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Product Details

  • Series: Signet Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics (September 6, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451523482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451523488
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Nathanael West (1903-1940) - original name Nathan Weinstein (until 1926) American writer who died in a car crash at thirty-seven. Nathanael West published four novels. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

I will read on a bit, but if I find many more, I will be returning the book.
La Favola
His description of his characters pain is so vivid that it touches you inside.
P. Jourdenais
The number of typos, wrong line breaks and grammatical errors are countless.
Jill A. Bossert

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 83 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on July 27, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Day of the Locust" is about the strange, disparate people that invariably get drawn to Los Angeles in the 1930's, a time when studios put out assembly-line low-budget movies and employed revolving crews of extras, writers, and various technicians. The novel seems influenced by Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio" in its portrayal of "grotesques," emotionally or behaviorally defective people on the fringe of society, but its tone is much more vibrant and frenetic; if "Winesburg, Ohio" is a petting zoo, "The Day of the Locust" is a three-ring circus.
At the center of the action is an artist and scene designer named Tod Hackett. He observes southern California with a sort of concerned detachment; he sees it as a wasteland of incongruous, tacky architecture and rootless people who come here to die. His discontent is manifested in his extracurricular plan to paint a canvas called "The Burning of Los Angeles."
Even though Tod may be considered the main character, he's the least interesting member of the cast; he's like the "straight man" in a comedy team. He's in love with an aspiring actress and occasional prostitute named Faye Greener who likes to use men. She has managed to hook a shy, lonely unemployed hotel bookkeeper named Homer Simpson (!) who moved to L.A. from Iowa for his health. Homer has compulsively fidgety hands and occasionally even exhibits the simplemindedness of his bald, mustard-colored cartoon namesake. Faye is also attracted to a lanky cowboy named Earle Shoop who works in a Sunset Boulevard saddlery store, does occasional movie work, and doesn't seem to know he's a caricature.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jason Richard on April 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I've read all of West's other novels - The Dream Life of Balso Snell, A Cool Million, Miss Lonelyhearts - and all three seemed to miss something that is hard for me to explain. A little two-dimensional, a little hollow. Neither the characters nor the novels themselves seemed to be totally fleshed out. But The Day of the Locust is different. And ultimately I think it is on this novel that West's reputation will either rise or fall.
This book will really live with you long after you've read it. I can easily bring to mind that spectacular cockfight (a fine bit of descriptive writing), Faye's teasing, Harry Greener, the midget, the scene in the nightclub when the cross-dresser sings, and that final horrific scene when the riot breaks out in LA. You can skip West's other novels and you won't be very deprived, but The Day of the Locust is not to be missed.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jabberwocky on June 12, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Locust does a great job of showing the ugly side of the shiny veneer of Hollywood. The book deals with lust, desire, hope, disappointment, failure, rage, and death. To avoid being misleading, I should say that the movie business is not the front and center story here. The interpersonal relationships between a woman and her father and her suitors is the main plotline. Hollywood acts as a backdrop.

Faye is a failed actress who only gets work as an extra, and Homer and Todd are just two of the men who are drunk with desire for her.

This alternates with The Sound and the Fury for my favorite book. I've read it 3 times, which is as much as I've read any book.

...Locust is a quick read and never boring. Check out the movie too.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy P. Bushnell on June 25, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Some of the depravities of Hollywood and LA depicted here seem slightly quaint today (now that the area has had sixty years to surpass West's vision), but this book still hits the mark with a remarkable frequency. When West is writing at his best he functions as a baleful documentor of what would grow into the LA we all know and love. Cults, pseudoreligions, celebrity-worship, crowds, riots, child actors, hodgepodge architecture, and an industry dedicated to the falsification of reality: all of them are here, and West's writing on these afflictions still retains force today. Ultimately, West sees LA as an environment in which no human goodness can survive-a kind of moral black hole-and this is certainly reflected in the novel's array of characters, who are largely a batch of self-centered xenophobes. Even Tod, ostensibly the novel's "hero," tries (more than once) to summon up the courage to simply rape Faye. In other words, this book won't be a big hit with people who use "I didn't like any of the characters" as a criticism: a shame, because there's a reasonably good study of human desperation to be found here, and West's focus on how certain environments and cultures exacerbate that desperation is still profoundly relevant to our own day. A quick read, not very difficult, dense, or lyrical, but a fine addition to the "literature" on LA.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Now I know why Flannery O'Connor so admired West. His prose is crystal clear, his craft virtuoso. His characters, however ugly, are utterly compelling and tragic. There was simply no stopping them. They would hang on to their delusions even if it destroys them. And then there are the people with no hope whatsoever, existing just for surface pleasure and materialism. Tod, the 'artist', tries to help these people, and nearly goes mad with frustration. West's compassion for these people (cloaked by his biting sarcasm and wit) makes this book a great work of art. It, like O'Connor's "Wise Blood," are among the masterpieces of American fiction. Read it and be ennobled.
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