In Jonathan Lethem's wryly funny second novel, we meet a young man named Chaos, who's living in a movie theater in post-apocalyptic Wyoming, drinking alcohol, and eating food out of cans.It's an unusual and at times unbearable existence, but Chaos soon discovers that his post-nuclear reality may have no connection to the truth. So he takes to the road with a girl named Melinda in order to find answers. As the pair travels through the United States they find that, while each town has been affected differently by the mysterious source of the apocalypse, none of the people they meet can fill in their incomplete memories or answer their questions. Gradually, figures from Chaos's past, including some who appear only under the influence of intravenously administered drugs, make Chaos remember some of his forgotten life as a man named Moon.
An uninvited guest, entering the empty New York apartment of a man known to intimates as "Dom," proceeds to write for his absent host a curious confession. Its close accounts of friendship since boyhood with two men surely unknown to Dom and certainly to each other is interleaved with the story of Dom himself.Ancient History is one of the only novels by Joseph McElroy to not have been re-issued in paperback, coming out alongside his new novel after a year-long re-introduction of his work to readers via eBooks.
Anna Karenina left her husband for a dashing officer. Lady Chatterley left hers for the gamekeeper. Now Alice Coombs has her boyfriend for nothing ... nothing at all. Just how that should have come to pass and what Philip Engstrand, Alice's spurned boyfriend, can do about it is the premise for this vertiginous speculative romance by the acclaimed author of Gun, with Occasional Music. Alice Coombs is a particle physicist, and she and her colleagues have created a void, a hole in the universe, that they have taken to calling Lack. But Lack is a nullity with taste--tastes; it absorbs a pomegranate, light bulbs, an argyle sock; it disdains a bow tie, an ice ax, and a scrambled duck egg. To Alice, this selectivity translates as an irresistible personality. To Philip, it makes Lack an unbeatable rival, for how can he win Alice back from something that has no flaws--because it has no qualities? Ingenious, hilarious, and genuinely mind-expanding, As She Climbed Across the Table is the best boy-meets-girl-meets-void story ever written. From the Trade Paperback edition.
In 1939, James Agee was working for Fortune magazine. Commissioned to write an article on Brooklyn for a special issue on New York, Agee moved to the Flatbush neighborhood for two months, later producing "Southeast of the Island: Travel Notes". As had earlier happened with the essay that was to become his classic portrait of southern farmers, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men", Fortune declined to publish, and the essay remained unpublished until its 1968 Esquire appearance under the title "Brooklyn Is". In the words of Brooklyn-born novelist Jonathan Lethem, who provides the introduction to the essay in this volume, "the narrative rises up on the swirling imaged-junked cone of Agee's prophetic style to see the borough and its people whole".
Chase Insteadman, un apuesto e inofensivo producto de la escena social de Manhattan, lleva una vida de ocio gracias a las rentas que recibe de su breve carrera como actor infantil. Además, últimamente ha vuelto a la vida pública por una tragedia que los medios no se cansan de cubrir: su amor de la adolescencia y prometida, Janice Trumbull, está atrapada en la Estación Espacial Internacional, desde donde le envía arrebatadas cartas de amor. La vida de Chase cambia radicalmente cuando conoce a Perkus Tooth, un ermitaño virtual y enigmático que es adorado en los círculos más modernos por su arte callejero de vanguardia y sus caústicos comentarios. Su labia incendiaria y su voraz paranoia arrastran a Chase a un Manhattan completamente diferente, un Manhattan distópico y sesgado en el que la verdad es a gusto del consumidor.Un árbol de marihuana ancestral y poderoso llamado Chronic, una espesa niebla gris que cubre Manhattan y un tigre mecánico que tiene aterrorizados a los habitantes de Nueva York son otros de los personajes de la nueva novela de Jonathan Lethem.
The acclaimed author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude returns with a roar with this gorgeous, searing portrayal of Manhattanites wrapped in their own delusions, desires, and lies. Chase Insteadman, a handsome, inoffensive fixture on Manhattan's social scene, lives off residuals earned as a child star on a beloved sitcom called Martyr & Pesty. Chase owes his current social cachet to an ongoing tragedy much covered in the tabloids: His teenage sweetheart and fiancée, Janice Trumbull, is trapped by a layer of low-orbit mines on the International Space Station, from which she sends him rapturous and heartbreaking love letters. Like Janice, Chase is adrift, she in Earth's stratosphere, he in a vague routine punctuated by Upper East Side dinner parties. Into Chase's cloistered city enters Perkus Tooth, a wall-eyed free-range pop critic whose soaring conspiratorial riffs are fueled by high-grade marijuana, mammoth cheeseburgers, and a desperate ache for meaning. Perkus's countercultural savvy and voracious paranoia draw Chase into another Manhattan, where questions of what is real, what is fake, and who is complicit take on a life-shattering urgency. Along with Oona Laszlo, a self-loathing ghostwriter, and Richard Abneg, a hero of the Tompkins Square Park riot now working as a fixer for the billionaire mayor, Chase and Perkus attempt to unearth the answers to several mysteries that seem to offer that rarest of artifacts on an island where everything can be bought: Truth. Like Manhattan itself, Jonathan Lethem's masterpiece is beautiful and tawdry, tragic and forgiving, devastating and antic, a stand-in for the whole world and a place utterly unique.
A mixture of personal memory and cultural commentary, The Disappointment Artist offers a series of windows onto the collisions of art, landscape, and personal history that formed Jonathan Lethem's richly imaginative perspective on life at the end of the twentieth century. Lethem illuminates the process by which a child invents himself as a writer, and as a human being, through a series of approaches to the culture around him. In the title piece, a letter from his aunt (a children's book author) spurs a meditation on the value of writing workshops, the role and influence of reviews, and the uncomfortable fraternity of writers. In 'Defending The Searchers', Lethem explains how a passion for the classic John Wayne Western became occasion for a series of minor humiliations. In 'Identifying with Your Parents', an excavation of childhood love for superhero comics expands to cover a whole range of nostalgia for a previous generation's cultural artefacts. And '13/1977/21', which begins by recounting the summer he saw Star Wars twenty-one times, 'slipping past ushers who'd begun to recognize me. . . ', becomes a meditation on the sorrow and solace of the solitary moviegoer.
A dazzling novel from one of our finest writers--an epic yet intimate family saga about three generations of all-American radicalsAt the center of Jonathan Lethem's superb new novel stand two extraordinary women: Rose Zimmer, the aptly nicknamed Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens, is an unreconstructed Communist who savages neighbors, family, and political comrades with the ferocity of her personality and the absolutism of her beliefs. Her precocious and willful daughter, Miriam, equally passionate in her activism, flees Rose's influence to embrace the dawning counterculture of Greenwich Village. These women cast spells over the men in their lives: Rose's aristocratic German Jewish husband, Albert; her cousin, the feckless chess hustler Lenny Angrush; Cicero Lookins, the brilliant son of her black cop lover; Miriam's (slightly fraudulent) Irish folksinging husband, Tommy Gogan; their bewildered son, Sergius. Flawed and idealistic, Lethem's characters struggle to inhabit the utopian dream in an America where radicalism is viewed with bemusement, hostility, or indifference. As the decades pass--from the parlor communism of the '30s, McCarthyism, the civil rights movement, ragged '70s communes, the romanticization of the Sandinistas, up to the Occupy movement of the moment--we come to understand through Lethem's extraordinarily vivid storytelling that the personal may be political, but the political, even more so, is personal. Lethem's characters may pursue their fates within History with a capital H, but his novel is--at its mesmerizing, beating heart--about love.From the Hardcover edition.
Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens's story of a powerful man whose callous neglect of his family triggers his professional and personal downfall, showcases the author's gift for vivid characterization and unfailingly realistic description. As Jonathan Lethem contends in his Introduction, Dickens's "genius . . . is at one with the genius of the form of the novel itself: Dickens willed into existence the most capacious and elastic and versatile kind of novel that could be, one big enough for his vast sentimental yearnings and for every impulse and fear and hesitation in him that countervailed those yearnings too. Never parsimonious and frequently contradictory, he always gives us everything he can, everything he's planned to give, and then more." This Modern Library Paperback Classic was set from the 1867 "Charles Dickens" edition.From the Trade Paperback edition.
What's a novelist supposed to do with contemporary culture? And what's contemporary culture supposed to do with novelists? InThe Ecstasy of Influence, Jonathan Lethem, tangling with what he calls the 'white elephant' role of the writer as public intellectual, arrives at an astonishing range of answers. A constellation of previously published pieces and new essays as provocative and idiosyncratic as any he's written, this volume sheds light on an array of topics from sex in cinema to drugs, graffiti, Bob Dylan, cyberculture, 9/11, book touring and Marlon Brando. Then there are investigations of a shelf's worth of his literary models and contemporaries: Norman Mailer, Philip K. Dick, Bret Easton Ellis, James Wood, and others. And, writing about Brooklyn, his father, and his sojourn through two decades of writing, one of the greats of contemporary American literature sheds an equally strong light on himself. Funny and unfettered,The Ecstasy of Influencesimmers with direct challenges to conventional wisdom and deep insights into the kaleidoscopic nature of artistic vision, the primacy of the writer in the cultural marketplace, and the way the author's own experiences have fuelled his creative passions.
"A great and calamitous sequence of arguments with the universe: poignant, terrifying, ludicrous, and brilliant. The Exegesis is the sort of book associated with legends and madmen, but Dick wasn't a legend and he wasn't mad. He lived among us, and was a genius."--Jonathan Lethem. Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnificent and imaginative final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception, the malleability of space and time, and the relationship between the human and the divine. Edited and introduced by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, this will be the definitive presentation of Dick's brilliant, and epic, final work. In The Exegesis, Dick documents his eight-year attempt to fathom what he called "2-3-74," a postmodern visionary experience of the entire universe "transformed into information." In entries that sometimes ran to hundreds of pages, Dick tried to write his way into the heart of a cosmic mystery that tested his powers of imagination and invention to the limit, adding to, revising, and discarding theory after theory, mixing in dreams and visionary experiences as they occurred, and pulling it all together in three late novels known as the VALIS trilogy. In this abridgment, Jackson and Lethem serve as guides, taking the reader through the Exegesis and establishing connections with moments in Dick's life and work. The e-book includes a sample chapter from A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick.
Esta es la historia de un chico negro y uno blanco: Dylan Ebdus y Mingus Rude, vecinos que comparten sus días y defienden su amistad a capa y espada desde un rincón de Nueva York. Ésta es la historia de su infancia en Brooklyn, un barrio habitado mayoritariamente por negros y en el que comienza a emerger una nueva clase blanca. Ésta es la historia de la América de los años setenta, cuando las decisiones más intrascendentes -qué música escuchar, qué zona ocupar en el autobús escolar, en qué bar desayunar- desataban conflictos raciales y políticos. Ésta es la historia de América veinte años más tarde, cuando a nadie parecen importarle ya estos asuntos. Ésta es la historia del punk o la revolución blanca, del crack o la plaga monstruosa, del nacimiento del graffiti y de la soledad del artista. Y ésta es la historia de lo que habría pasado si dos adolescentes obsesionados con superhéroes de cómic hubieran desarrollado poderes similares a los de los personajes de ficción. Ésta es la historia que Jonathan Lethem nació para contar. Esta es La Fortaleza de la Soledad.
From the prize-winning author of Motherless Brooklyn, a daring, riotous, sweeping novel that spins the tale of two friends and their adventures in late 20th-century America. This is the story of two boys, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude. They live in Brooklyn and are friends and neighbours; but since Dylan is white and Mingus is black, their friendship is not simple. This is the story of 1970s America, a time when the simplest decisions - what music you listen to, whether to speak to the kid in the seat next to you, whether to give up your lunch money - are laden with potential political, social and racial disaster. This is also the story of 1990s America, when nobody cared anymore. This is the story of what would happen if two teenaged boys obsessed with comic book heroes actually had superpowers: they would screw up their lives.
Don Carpenter was one of the finest novelists working in the west. His first novel, A Hard Rain Falling, first published in 1966, has been championed by Richard Price, and George Pelacanos who called it "a masterpiece...the definitive juvenile-delinquency novel and a damning indictment of our criminal justice system," is considered a classic. His novel A Couple of Comedians is thought by some the best novel about Hollywood ever written.He was a close friend of Evan Connell and other San Francisco writers, but his closest friendship was with Richard Brautigan, and when Brautigan killed himself, Carpenter tried for some time to write a biography of his remarkable, deeply troubled friend.He finally abandoned that in favor of writing a novel. Friday's at Enricos, the story of four writers living in Northern California and Portland during the early, heady days of the Beat scene. A time of youth and opportunity, this story mixes the excitement of beginning with the melancholy of ambition, often thwarted and never satisfied. Loss of innocence is only the first price you pay. These are people, men and women, tender with expectation, at risk and in love, and Carpenter also carefully draws a portrait of these two remarkable places, San Francisco and Portland, in the 50s and early 60s, when the writers and bohemians were busy creating the groundwork for what came to be the counterculture.Recently discovered in a complete penultimate manuscript, having been lost since the author's death, we re thrilled to see this book into print. A great champion of Don Carpenter, Jonathan Lethem, has taken on the task of editing and developing this last draft into the shape we imagine Carpenter would have himself accomplished had he lived to see this through. And Lethem provides a wonderful introduction to this book, to Carpenter, and to the broad influence of his work which resonates until this very day.
One the irrepressibly inventive Jonathan Lethem could weld science fiction and the Western into a mesmerizing novel of exploration and otherness, sexual awakening and loss. At the age of 13 Pella Marsh loses her mother and her home on the scorched husk that is planet Earth. Her sorrowing family emigrates to the Planet of the Archbuilders, whose mysterious inhabitants have names like Lonely Dumptruck and Hiding Kneel--and a civilization that and frightens their human visitors. On this new world, spikily independent Pella becomes as uneasy envoy between two species. And at the same time is unwilling drawn to a violent loner who embodies all the paranoid machismo of the frontier ethic. Combining the tragic grandeur of John Ford's The Searchers and the sexual tension of Lolita and transporting them to a planet light years, Girl in Landscape is a tour de force. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Gumshoe Conrad Metcalf has problems-there's a rabbit in his waiting room and a trigger-happy kangaroo on his tail. Near-future Oakland is a brave new world where evolved animals are members of society, the police monitor citizens by their karma levels, and mind-numbing drugs such as Forgettol and Acceptol are all the rage. Metcalf has been shadowing Celeste, the wife of an affluent doctor. Perhaps he's falling a little in love with her at the same time. When the doctor turns up dead, our amiable investigator finds himself caught in a crossfire between the boys from the Inquisitor's Office and gangsters who operate out of the back room of a bar called the Fickle Muse. Mixing elements of sci-fi, noir, and mystery, this clever first novel from the author of Motherless Brooklyn is a wry, funny, and satiric look at all that the future may hold.
First published by Random House in 1968, Russell H. Greenan's It Happened in Boston? is the story of a brilliantly talented, unbalanced artist who strives to meet God face-to-face in order to destroy Him. It is "a magic spell of a book--phantasmagoric, lushly written, full of unforgettable characters and brilliant twists of plot," writes Jonathan Lethem in his Introduction. With a vivid depiction of the art world and a breathtaking narrative that incorporates forgery, time travel, and murder, Greenan's hilarious and disturbing debut novel--now an underground cult classic--is ripe for rediscovery.
Following in the footsteps of the late great Lester Bangs -- the most revered and irreverent of rock 'n' roll critics -- twenty-four celebrated writers have penned stories inspired by great songs. Just as Bangs cast new light on a Rod Stewart classic with his story "Maggie May," about a wholly unexpected connection between an impressionable young man and an aging, alcoholic hooker, the diverse, electrifying stories here use songs as a springboard for a form dubbed the lit riff. Alongside Bangs's classic work, you'll find stories by J.T. LeRoy, who puts a recovering teenage drug abuser in a dentist's chair with nothing but the Foo Fighters's "Everlong" -- blaring through the P.A. -- to fight the pain; Jonathan Lethem, whose narrator looks back on his lost innocence just as an extramarital affair careens to an end -- this to the tune "Speeding Motorcycle" as recorded by Yo La Tengo; and Jennifer Belle, who envisions a prequel to Paul Simon's "Graceland" -- one that takes place at a children's birthday party replete with a real live kangaroo. With original contributions from Tom Perrotta, Nelson George, Amanda Davis, Lisa Tucker, Aimee Bender, Darin Strauss, and many more -- riffing on everyone from Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen to the White Stripes, Cat Power, and Bob Marley -- this is both an astounding collection of short stories and an extraordinary experiment in words and music. Soundtrack available from Saturation Acres Music & Recording Co.
The incomparable Jonathan Lethem returns with nine stories that demonstrate his mastery of the short form.Jonathan Lethem's third collection of stories uncovers a father's nervous breakdown at SeaWorld in "Pending Vegan"; a foundling child rescued from the woods during a blizzard in "Traveler Home"; a political prisoner in a hole in a Brooklyn street in "Procedure in Plain Air"; and a crumbling, haunted "blog" on a seaside cliff in "The Dreaming Jaw, The Salivating Ear." Each of these locates itself in Lethem-land, which can be discovered only by visiting. As in his celebrated novels, Lethem finds the uncanny lurking in the mundane, the irrational self-defeat seeping through our upstanding pursuits, and the tragic undertow of the absurd world(s) in which we live. Devoted fans of Lethem will recognize familiar themes: the anxiety of influence taken to reductio ad absurdum in "The King of Sentences"; a hapless, horny outsider summoning bravado in "The Porn Critic"; characters from forgotten comics stranded on a desert island in "Their Back Pages." As always in Lethem, humor and poignancy work in harmony, humans strive desperately for connection, words find themselves misaligned to deeds, and the sentences are glorious.From the Hardcover edition.
By the winner of the Hugo, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Life Achievement Awards, this latest volume finds Theodore Sturgeon in fine form as he gains recognition for the first time as a literary short story writer. Written between 1957 and 1960, when Sturgeon and his family lived in both America and Grenada, finally settling in Woodstock, New York, these stories reflect his increasing preference for psychology over ray guns. Stories such as "The Man Who Told Lies," "A Touch of Strange," and "It Opens the Sky" show influences as diverse as William Faulkner and John Dos Passos. Always in touch with the zeitgeist, Sturgeon takes on the Russian Sputnik launches of 1957 with "The Man Who Lost the Sea," switching the scene to Mars and injecting his trademark mordancy and vivid wordplay into the proceedings. These mature stories also don't stint on the scares, as "The Graveyard Reader"--one of Boris Karloff's favorite stories--shows. Acclaimed novelist Jonathan Lethem's foreword neatly summarizes Sturgeon's considerable achievement here.
G. K. Chesterton's surreal masterpiece is a psychological thriller that centers on seven anarchists in turn-of-the-century London who call themselves by the names of the days of the week. Chesterton explores the meanings of their disguised identities in what is a fascinating mystery and, ultimately, a spellbinding allegory. As Jonathan Lethem remarks in his Introduction, The real characters are the ideas. Chesterton's nutty agenda is really quite simple: to expose moral relativism and parlor nihilism for the devils he believes them to be. This wouldn't be interesting at all, though, if he didn't also show such passion for giving the devil his due. He animates the forces of chaos and anarchy with every ounce of imaginative verve and rhetorical force in his body.From the Trade Paperback edition.
L.J. Davis's 1971 novel, A Meaningful Life, is a blistering black comedy about the American quest for redemption through real estate and a gritty picture of New York City in collapse. Just out of college, Lowell Lake, the Western-born hero of Davis's novel, heads to New York, where he plans to make it big as a writer. Instead he finds a job as a technical editor, at which he toils away while passion leaks out of his marriage to a nice Jewish girl. Then Lowell discovers a beautiful crumbling mansion in a crime-ridden section of Brooklyn, and against all advice, not to mention his wife's will, sinks his every penny into buying it. He quits his job, moves in, and spends day and night on demolition and construction. At last he has a mission: he will dig up the lost history of his house; he will restore it to its past grandeur. He will make good on everything that's gone wrong with his life, and he will even murder to do it.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Jonathan Lethem's new collection of stories is a feast for his fans and the perfect introduction for new readers--nine fantastic, amusing, poignant tales written in a dizzying variety of styles, as Lethem samples high and low culture to create fictional worlds that are utterly original. Longtime readers will recognize echoes of Lethem's novels in all these pieces--narrators who can't stop babbling, hapless would-be detectives, people with unusual powers that do them no good, hot-blooded academics, and characters whose clever repartee masks lovelorn desperation as they negotiate both the stumbling path of romance and the bittersweet obligations of friendship. Among them: "The Vision" is a story about drunken neighborhood parlor games, boys who dress up as superheroes, and the perils of snide curiosity. "Access Fantasy" is part social satire, part weird detective story. Evoking Lethem's earliest work, it conjures up a world divided between people who have apartments and people trapped in an endless traffic jam behind The One-Way Permeable Barrier. "The Spray" is a simple story about how people in love deal with their past. A magical spray is involved. "Vivian Relf" is a tour de force about loss. A man meets a woman at a party; they're sure they've met before, but they haven't. As the years progress this strangely haunting encounter comes to define the narrator's life. "The Dystopianist, Thinking of His Rival, Is Interrupted by a Knock on the Door" is a Borgesian tale that features suicidal sheep. (This story won a Pushcart Prize when first published inConjunctions. ) "Super Goat Man" is a savagely funny exposé of the failures of the sixties baby boomers, and of their children. Sparkling with the off-beat humor and subtle insights,Men and Cartoonsis a welcome addition to the shelf of the writer "whose bold imagination and sheer love of words defy all forms and expectations and place him among his country's foremost novelists. " --Salon
Norman Mailer was one of the towering figures of twentieth-century American letters and an acknowledged master of the essay. Mind of an Outlaw, the first posthumous publication from this outsize literary icon, collects Mailer's most important and representative work in the form that many rank as his most electrifying. As America's foremost public intellectual, Norman Mailer was a ubiquitous presence in our national life--on the airwaves and in print--for more than sixty years. With his supple mind and pugnacious persona, he engaged society more than any other writer of his generation. The trademark Mailer swagger is much in evidence in these pages as he holds forth on culture, ideology, politics, sex, gender, and celebrity, among other topics. Here is Mailer on boxing, Mailer on Hemingway, Mailer on Marilyn Monroe, and, of course, Mailer on Mailer--the one subject that served as the beating heart of all of his nonfiction. From his early essay "A Credo for the Living," published in 1948, when the author was twenty-five, to his final writings in the year before his death, Mailer wrestled with the big themes of his times. He was one of the most astute cultural commentators of the postwar era, a swashbuckling intellectual provocateur who never pulled a punch and was rarely anything less than interesting. Mind of an Outlaw spans the full arc of Mailer's evolution as a writer, including such essential pieces as his acclaimed 1957 meditation on hipsters, "The White Negro"; multiple selections from his seminal collection Advertisements for Myself; and a never-before-published essay on Sigmund Freud. Incendiary, erudite, and unrepentantly outrageous, Norman Mailer was a dominating force on the battlefield of ideas. Featuring an incisive Introduction by Jonathan Lethem, Mind of an Outlaw forms a fascinating portrait of Mailer's intellectual development across the span of his career as well as the preoccupations of a nation in the last half of the American century.Advance praise for Mind of an Outlaw "The 50 essays collected in this retrospective volume span 64 years and show Mailer (1923-2007) at his brawny, pugnacious, and egotistical best. . . . Featuring an introduction by Jonathan Lethem, this provocative collection brims with insights and reflections that show why Mailer is regarded as a great literary mind of his generation."--Publishers Weekly (A "Top 10" Pick for Fall)"By the late . . . bad boy of postwar American literature . . . as good an introduction to Mailer's habits of mind as there's ever been."--Kirkus ReviewsPraise for Norman Mailer "[Norman Mailer] loomed over American letters longer and larger than any other writer of his generation."--The New York Times "A writer of the greatest and most reckless talent."--The New Yorker "Mailer is indispensable, an American treasure."--The Washington Post "A devastatingly alive and original creative mind."--Life "Mailer is fierce, courageous, and reckless and nearly everything he writes has sections of headlong brilliance."--The New York Review of Books "The largest mind and imagination [in modern] American literature . . . Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book."--Chicago TribuneFrom the Hardcover edition.
"A primer for Big Bad City disillusionment, unsparing in its portrayal of New York's debilitating entropy."--The Village Voice. With a new introduction by Jonathan Lethem. First published in 1933, Miss Lonelyhearts remains one of the most shocking works of 20th century American literature, as unnerving as a glob of black bile vomited up at a church social: empty, blasphemous, and horrific. Set in New York during the Depression and probably West's most powerful work, Miss Lonelyhearts concerns a nameless man assigned to produce a newspaper advice column -- but as time passes he begins to break under the endless misery of those who write in, begging him for advice. Unable to find answers, and with his shaky Christianity ridiculed to razor-edged shards by his poisonous editor, he tumbles into alcoholism and a madness fueled by his own spiritual emptiness. During his years in Hollywood West wrote The Day of the Locust, a study of the fragility of illusion. Many critics consider it with F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished masterpiece The Last Tycoon (1941) among the best novels written about Hollywood. Set in Hollywood during the Depression, the narrator, Tod Hackett, comes to California in the hope of a career as a painter for movie backdrops but soon joins the disenchanted second-rate actors, technicians, laborers and other characters living on the fringes of the movie industry. Tod tries to seduce Faye Greener; she is seventeen. Her protector is an old man named Homer Simpson. Tod finds work on a film called prophetically "The Burning of Los Angeles," and the dark comic tale ends in an apocalyptic mob riot outside a Hollywood premiere, as the system runs out of control.
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