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The Day of the Locust.

The Day of the Locust

Nathanael West

Signet Classic

Penguin Putnam Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

0451523482, $6.95

Potent And Penetrating

I read Nathanael West's potent and penetrating THE DAY OF THE LOCUST every year, and do so for the finely limbed characters, for the spot-on dialogue, and for the blood-and-feathers cock fight.

Rooster pugilism stands, of course, as the perfect symbol for the actions of the eclectic coterie of suitors (including Homer Simpson) vying and brawling for the chance to bed Faye Greener, the aspiring starlet.

So, too, does Todd Hackett's painting, the "Burning of Los Angeles" stand as a symbol. Todd is West, and Todd's painting is West's book, which burns the phony facade off Hollywood forever.

Props should always be given to the writer who can craft each character's dialogue in a distinct voice. Hemingway, West's contemporary, couldn't do it; all his characters sound alike, men interchangeable with women. However, one could read a snatch of West's dialogue and identify any one of the more than half dozen grotesques that people this memorable tale.

One constructive criticism: maybe the book ends too abruptly, or perhaps the ending seems too abrupt because West doesn't properly set up the last scene. Somewhere prior West should have mentioned the movie premier.

Geoffrey Smagacz

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Author:Smagacz, Geoffrey
Publication:Reviewer's Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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