"West, a parodist with rancid genius, achieved his masterwork in Miss Lonelyhearts." - Harold Bloom
An American classic praised by great writers from Flannery O'Conner to Jonathan Lethem, Miss Lonelyhearts is an Expressionist black comedy set in New York City during the Great Depression.
The blackly comic energy of Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts - its caustic ebullience, the strange buoyancy of its suffering - is a remarkably American achievement, a kind of death-dance capered on the corpse of a vividly rendered early 1930s Manhattan. In the darkening curl of the Depression, misery is the fulcrum of national experience, a dismal engine that purrs especially for West's titular protagonist. As a newspaper advice columnist, he is privy to the secret despair of an American chorus: the lost, the young, the deformed, the forgotten. A decidedly off-kilter, darkly comic tale.
"My favorite work of modern American fiction." - Harold Bloom
"In dark times, Miss Lonelyhearts shines the brightest light in the blackest places. For this reason West's novel has never felt more alive than today." - The Daily Beast
'The most diabolical humor ...' - John Fante
"Scenes of extraordinary power ... vividly drawn grotesques." - F. Scott Fitzgerald
"By applying the magpie aesthetics of Surrealism and T.S. Eliot to the 'American Grain, ' by delving into the popular culture and emerging not with surrender or refusal but a razor-cool critique, West became the great precursor to Heller, Pynchon, Philip K. Dick, George Saunders, and so much else." -Jonathan Lethem
"[West's] novels say more about the way we live now - and the things that brought us to our present pass - than any other work of fiction I can think of." - The New Yorker
"Nathanael West's stunning four novels are American tales, rooted in our transmogrifying soil. Morality plays they are, classified as comedies. They are indeed often funny. Funny as a crutch." - Elizabeth Hardwick, The New York Review of Books
Admired by F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Fante, Bob Dylan, Dorothy Parker, Harold Bloom, and Dashiell Hammett, West's offers a classic indictment of American life.
About the author
Nathanael West published four novels during the thirty-six years of his life. The first, The Dream Life of Balso Snell
, an experimental work written in the 1920s, was well-received but sales were poor. The second, the brilliant Miss Lonelyhearts
, was published in 1933, a few months before his publisher went bankrupt. The third, A Cool Million
, vanished into the depths of the Depression. It was at this point that West went to Hollywood to earn his living as a scriptwriter. From his Hollywood experience came The Day of the Locust
. Publishing in 1939, the novel received very little recognition. The following year, on December 22nd, the day after his neighbour F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack, Nathanael West and his wife were killed in a California highway accident. When West died, at the age of thirty-seven, his originality and brilliance were little known outside an intensely admiring circle of fellow writers: William Carlos Williams, Edmund Wilson, S. J. Perelman, and others. Not until West's four novels were reissued in the late 1950s was he acknowledged as one of the most gifted writers of his generation. His masterpieces blend manic farce and despairing compassion, and their vision of an America awash in its own mass-produced fantasies, read like a prophecy of much that was to come in American literature and life.