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Next Up: The Day Of The Locust


I thought this title sounded like a real pick-me-upper to read over the Christmas holidays. I’ll say I have zero familiarity with The Day of the Locust and its author, Nathanael West. So I’m coming in completely cold on this one.

It’s a short book. My version is just 150ish pages, so that’s good.

The story is about a group of struggling artists trying to make a living in 1930s Hollywood.

Other than that trivial fact, I know nothing about this book. But here’s a few facts about The Day of the Locust and Nathanael West that I gathered from some quick research.

  • The Day of the Locust was published in 1939.
  • In addition to being featured on the Time list, the novel was #73 on the Modern Library’s Top 100.
  • The novel features a character named Homer Simpson. Yes, Homer Simpson. I’ll definitely be exploring that connection, if there is one.
  • It was made into a 1975 feature film of the same name, starring William Atherton and Donald Sutherland.
  • Bob Dylan recorded a song called “Day of the Locusts” in 1970.
  • Nathanael West was good friends with F. Scott Fitzgerald and died in a car crash the day after Fitzgerald’s death.  He was only 37.
  • In West’s short life, he wrote 4 novels, 2 plays, and a couple of short stories.

This one sounds like an interesting book.

I’m also intrigued by the connection between West and Fitzgerald. I’ve read that West was distraught by Fitzgerald’s death the day before when he ran a stop sign and died in a car crash.

More to come on The Day of the Locust after the holidays.

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16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Always love your posts. Wanted to let you know that for some reason my anti-virus software keeps warning me that your site has exhibited suspicious behavior and warned me not to visit. Don’t know if it’s just a problem/glitch on my end or if something’s going on at your end. In any case, Merry Christmas & Happy Blogging!!!

    December 19, 2013
    • Thanks! That’s weird about the virus software. Any other commenters having this problem?

      December 19, 2013
      • I have noticed that this site is passing along spam messages as if they were valuable posts for sharing. These are mostly commercial-type spam but who knows what is lurking in the message or at one of the embedded links. I know it’s often hard to resist but overly smarmy praise is often a strong clue that the message is not what it seems.

        December 19, 2013
        • WordPress’s spam filter catches a ton of that but some of them slip through into the comments. Usually, I catch them and delete but sometimes I might be busy and let one get by. I’ll double check the more recent comments to make sure nothing looks too spammy.

          December 19, 2013
      • Nope, no problems here.

        December 19, 2013
  2. You’re joking, right? Whatever suggested The Day of the Locust is a light pick-me-upper? Well, I guess if you consider The Lord of the Flies to be a fun pastoral romp …

    December 19, 2013
    • Definitely joking. Anytime the word “locust” is in the title, I don’t expect a light read.

      December 19, 2013
  3. If it’s anything like Miss Lonelyhearts, one of his other novels, you’re in for (another) depressing read. Good luck.

    December 19, 2013
  4. Interesting facts. It’s one of those books that if I’d judged it by title alone, I would have been so far off! Now I’m going to look out for it!

    December 19, 2013
    • Sounds a little sci-fi-ish, doesn’t it?

      December 19, 2013
  5. This may be too much of a downer for the Christmas season. Would probably have been better to save it for another day. Nathaniel West’s Day of the Locust and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished The Last Tycoon may be two of the best portrayal’s of the Hollywood of the studio system days. Good luck with your reading.

    December 19, 2013
  6. Reblogged this on kgajithmenon2007.

    December 20, 2013
  7. I read Miss Lonleyhearts, also by Nathanael West, many years ago. Looking forward to reading your thoughts about The Day of the Locust. Happy reading!

    December 22, 2013
  8. Huh I also find the Fitzgerald connection interesting. Looking forward to hearing more about that relationship.

    December 25, 2013
  9. Because artists are completely similar to locusts. I`d be interested to find if there is any deeper meaning to that at the end of the book.

    January 3, 2014
  10. Interesting post. i had never heard of this book but I’m now very interested in picking it up. Thanks for sharing.

    January 30, 2014

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