RARA-AVIS: Influences: Nathanael West

From: Mario Taboada ( matrxtech@yahoo.com)
Date: 11 Jun 2002

I am currently rereading the works of Nathanael West, and it occurred to me that his bleak view of the human condition (which, in his case, means *all humans*) is very much in line with what we call "noir". A novel like A Cool Million could easily be rewritten as a tight fifties paperback by changing the tongue-in-cheek narrators voice into the voice of a dude who actually believes in what he's doing, even if he doesn't know what he's doing. The Day of the Locust wouldn't need any such stylistic changes: it is a perfect cold dish of dark stuff.

So I propose that we add West to the list of noir precursors and practitioners. When we go down that way, we end up collecting a lot of the greatest American writers, starting with Twain and including Faulkner and Hemingway - and now West.

Next is Nelson Algren, whose work is staring at me from the library.

Best regards,


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