The Day of the Locust of the Locust by Nathaniel West (1903 to 1940 - he died in a car wreck- real name Nathan Von Wallstein) is set in Hollywood among people drawn there by the motion picture industry. It is full of grotesque characters and somehow brought to my mind a Southern California version of the people in the stories of Flannery O'Connor. It is second best to his sublime master work, Miss Lonely Heart (1933) which is one of the greatest of American novels.
The central figure works as a set designer for a Hollywood studio but his passion is his in process work on a painting in the grand tradition of 19th century Spanish painters, a painting he calls The Burning of Los Angeles. Everyone in this story is fatally flawed. The only person of decent character, one Homer Simpson (I think the creators of the cartoon have acknowledged this source) is pretty much of a clueless idiot. The novel has hookers, con men, Mexican cock fighting fans (there is a horrific scene of a cock fight which is kind of a metaphor for the lives of the people in the story), a trouble making dwarf among others.
Southern California in 1939, America was just getting ready to go into W W Two and exit a terrible ten year economic depression, was kind of a magnet for the rootless, a new promised land. There is a good bit of religious symbolism in the novel, from the title on. It is a lot of fun to read and hilarious in places.
I would suggest you first read Miss Lonely Heart and then if you like that read The Day of the Locust.
I hope to read his other two novels, both also under 200 pages, one day.
The Day of the Locust is in the public domain and can be downloaded for free.
Interesting plot. I will bookmark this for future reading. Thanks for sharing.
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