- Paperback: 108 pages
- Publisher: Important Books (June 28, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 8087830261
- ISBN-13: 978-8087830260
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.2 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 178 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Day of the Locust Paperback – June 28, 2013
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The protagonist, Tod Hackett, is a frustrated commercial artist working for the movie studios, a "sellout" according to his art school compatriots back on the East Coast. The narrator's voice never fails to reflect the immediate events around him with fluidity and insight, key to the book's readability. Tod's philosophical examination and keen insight into his adopted City of Angels encompasses the city's unique role as a destination of dreamers that can deteriorate into a nightmare as the distinctions become clear between those that "made it," those that think they're going to make it, and those that know they aren't. Tod's experiences with various characters in Hollywood could itself make a movie (and, indeed, has): the capricious survivor Faye Greener and her worn-out father Harry; contentious dwarf Abe Kusich, drugstore cowboy Earle Shoop, and perhaps the most complex and troubled character, Homer Simpson, a Midwest emigrant to the "promised land" who also is briefly a narrator. Throughout various scenarios ranging from religious revivals, movie openings, the business of a bordello, and the everyday ephemera known as life, West creates a memorable portrait of a man who is seeking something that perhaps can never be found. Tod is overwhelmed with nihilism but seeks to temper it with a dual objectification and repulsion towards Faye Greener.
Perhaps what West creates most movingly is a portrait of L.A.- the excitement, the grunge, the messiness, the beauty of it all juxtaposed with the fairy tale meeting cold reality. With so few "making it" L.A. is a city filled with those who believe they are one step away from success, or have more chillingly, resigned themselves to feeding off the city and its inhabitants through various means. You have to be hungry, smart, and relentless to make it in L.A. Behind the sunshine and palm trees lies a spirit of fierce competition and brutal one-upmanship.
I would strongly recommend this book for its straightforward yet beautifully insightful prose, and the unforgettable characterization of Tod Hackett, perhaps one of my favorite male narrators
outside of Holden Caulfield. Entertaining, witty, and realistic, "The Day of the Locust" doesn't have a Hollywood ending. But would we want it to?