RE: RARA-AVIS: N. West Minutiae

From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 18 Nov 2002

Doug wrote: Some connections were made a little while back between West's writings and other works, maybe with some mention of Charles Willeford. Without giving away too much, I'd point out that the end of the Woman Chaser seems to echo
(at least in my mind, maybe because I was reading them too closely together)

the end of The Day of the Locust.

******** I snipped the details you added about West's life, but they were interesting. I've been pulling biographical information from short online articles and not bothering to verify much of it. The ambiguity in his college education is interesting.

West was not a successful author. Some people have noted that perhaps part of the problem was that his work didn't fit into a comfortable slot, or genre. Mario said that West's work followed in a Kafka-like tradition. I bought a nice cheap trade paperback of collected Kafka stories to see if I could see the connection. Although I haven't read them yet, the intro gives me the idea that the common theme is alienation and insanity in a world that's somewhere between totally bizarre
(Kafka's "Metamorphosis" and West's "Balso Snell") and just plain strange (Kafka's "Penal Colony" and West's "Day of the Locust").

Incidentally, my statement that West was not successful is not meant to imply that he is a bad writer. I don't much care for him, but I don't consider popularity to be the deciding factor in whether an author is good or not.


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