RARA-AVIS: Re: Nathanael West

From: Doug Hoffman, MD ( hoffmand@cc.northcoast.com)
Date: 12 Jun 2002

Nathanael West as proto-noir? Works for me. I re-read Miss Lonelyhearts about six months ago and found it as gripping as ever. I have the Library of America collection, which also contains West's short essay, "Some Notes on Miss L." Some very interesting musings on West's part; it proved to me that no matter how much you think you understand a story, you might have no idea what the author had in mind. Just a short quote:

"...Miss Lonelyhearts became the portrait of a priest of our time who has a religious experience. His case is classical and is built on all the cases in James' _Varieties of Religious Experience_ and Starbuck's
_Psychology of Religion_. The pyschology is theirs not mine. The imagery is mine."

It's a short essay, barely a page, but boy is it a read. Another quote, one some of you may have heard before:

"Leave slow growth to the book reviewers, you only have time to explode. Remember William Carlos Williams' description of the pioneer women who shot their children against the wilderness like cannonballs. Do the same with your novels."

Doug Hoffman

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