RARA-AVIS: Miss Lonelyhearts: Mario

From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 03 Oct 2002

Mario wrote: Miker, I place West within a specifically Jewish tradition. To the classic "I'm getting screwed", this tradition adds
"And I'm a schmuck". In Goodis, you just have the getting screwed thing. There is no irony. It's an important difference. Another difference is that West was a much more sophisticated writer than Goodis, more cerebral. With Goodis, you get the raw picture of the loser thrashing about; with West (as with Willeford, an important parallel), you get a smart and articulate observer telling you about the schmuck.

************ Thanks for commenting, Mario. There's been some interesting connections to ponder in the last few I've read. I thought some about the similarities and the differences in O'Hara's APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA and West's MISS LONELYHEARTS. Both portray the leading characters acting badly in an environment that's pretty darned bad itself, and I don't think either of the characters really know why they're acting so poorly. An obvious difference between the two characters is that, while Miss Lonelyhearts is all too aware of the horror show he is living in, Julian English appears clueless all the way to the end. There's a big difference in the problems that are por- trayed, too. Julian lives in a world of hypocritical and shallow upper-middle class snobbery, whereas Miss Lonely- hearts's world, by the nature of his job, is dominated by unbelievable suffering of the lower classes, and an incredibly calloused and uncaring attitude in almost everybody else.

Oh! I could even throw in the book I'm reading now, Cald- well's TOBACCO ROAD. This is essentially a long, long letter to Miss Lonelyhearts, with a dose of wicked humor and satire thrown in for fun.

I shouldn't be talking about this in 20's month, should I? I'm using up all my good lies I should be saving for the 30's. ;-)

Sorry about accidentally reposting Mario's commment.


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