06 April 2009

Day of the locust - Nathanael West

A short yet poignant novel on life in the early Hollywood era. Tod Hackett is a young set designer who comes to Hollywood with notions of glamor and stardom. What he finds is a litany of characters that not only embrace but seem to revel in depravity, excess, boredom and lust. Hollywood in the 1930s may appear luxurious in front of the camera, but behind the scenes, it is a wretched wasteland where humanity's worse attributes seem to flourish in those that uprooted their lives to follow a dream. The swarm of boredom and dissilusion wreaks havoc on the characters very souls.

West has a kean sense of wit and a biting pen (or is it typewriter?) Certain scenes of the novel are some of the best writing I have ever come across. Plus, one of the characters is named Homer Simpson! What's there not to like.

It was almost all face, like a mask, with deep furrows between the eyes, across the forehead and on either side of the nose and mouth, plowed there by years of broad grinning and heavy frowning. Because of them, he could never express anything either subtly or exactly. They wouldn't permit degrees of feelings, only the furthest degree.

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