Miss Lonelyhearts

Nathanael West, born Wallenstein in NYC, died in a car crash in El Centro, CA, buried in Queens.  Two novels make his name:  Miss Lonelyhearts, the story of soul tortured by religion and self-contempt in 1930s Los Angeles, making his living ‘writing’ an advice column; and The Day of the Locust, a harrowing story of degradation and violence in Hollywood.  Both are great, but Locust is far the best of the two, I think. 

Funny, I don’t read West’s name in association with noir, but then, he is way beyond noir into his own vortex of human tragedy.  Noir is too ironic and entertaining for real tragedy, I think…

Story goes that he ran a stop sign and died in a crash, his wife died too, when he heard on the radio that his good friend F. Scott Fitzgerald was dead.  In El Centro of all places, and one that I actually visited.

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