Home | Reviews | Blog | Daily | Glossary | Orrin's Stuff | Email

The Day of the Locust ()

Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (73)

This book is often called the best book ever written about Hollywood.  It is the story of set designer Tod Hackett & a cast of lowlifes living on the fringe of the movie business, all of them drawn to the same wannabe starlet.

The characters are uniformly unsympathetic & it is nearly impossible to care what happens to them. Perhaps the book was more shocking when we knew less about the movie business & the personal lives of entertainers, but this tale of the dross behind the Silver Screen leaves one unmoved today.


Grade: (C-)


Book-related and General Links:
    -Nathanael West (1903-1940)
    -ESSAY: Let This Be a Lesson to You: The Snakebit Life of Nathanael West (Gerald Howard, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: A Wasteland of Contradictions:  The California Dreams of Nathanael West (Jim Tejani, Literary Traveler)
    -REVIEW: of NATHANAEL WEST: NOVELS AND OTHER WRITINGS True West: During the 1930s, a master of the short novel hallucinated a grotesque, erotic America we can recognize as our own (Virginia Heffernan)
    -F.W. Dupee: Doing West REVIEW: of Nathanael West: The Art of His Life by Jay Martin (NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: Nathanael West: Novels and Other Writings edited by Sacvan Bercovitch (Martin Filler, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: Novels and Other Writings by Nathaneal West (Algis Valiunas, Commentary)

If you liked The Day of the Locust, try:

Roszak, Theodore

Salamon, Julie
    -The Devil's Candy : The Bonfire of the Vanities Goes to Hollywood

Viertel, Peter
    -White Hunter, Black Heart

Wagner, Bruce
    -Force Majeure


The remarks herein re DAY OF THE LOCUST are not really so startling, and might be seen as proof or verification of West's bleak, nihilistic views on human nature. DOL is his masterpiece, even if it is not as cohesive and of-a-piece as MISS L. The eager lunacy of mass culture, the imbecility of the entertainment industry, and the perverse machinations of corporate America, all so vibrant and 'new' today (in the eyes of the blind)were given perfect "representation" seventy years ago by Pep West. I've visited West's shabby Parva Sed Apta apts. on Ivar, and his last bungalow, where he had moved with his wife, as well as the mean streets he wrote about with such pitiless clarity...To this day we have not seen his equal, and no amount of hyberbolic log-rolling among authors from Barmack to Veitch will alter that.

- acutestunts

- Nov-05-2005, 17:00


I disagree completely with your review. Day of the Locust is a terrific novel. Nat West is one of our greatest writers. I couldn't put the book down. i don't think you know what you're talking about. Well, there's hope for you after all--you did give Miss Lonelyhearts a positive review.

Nat West lives on. Try the Fantes next: John (no longer with us) and his son Dan, who is.

- K.A.

- Feb-13-2004, 08:57