Monday, February 29, 2016

Miss Lonelyhearts

by Nathanael West

This story about a man who writes a newspaper advice column posing as "Miss Lonelyhearts" in 1933 is quite unlike the story you might easily imagine being made into a rom-com movie today. It is a bleak black comedy, further colored by the casual misogyny and classism of the period. Y'know, just some hard-boiled men belting back rye, neat, and joking about the usefulness of corrective gang-rape when women "get ideas" and try to succeed on their own. (Yes, really.)

The main character has the odd moment of humanity here and there, struggling with the real pathos of the letters sent in by readers for the advice column that was meant to be a gimmick to increase circulation. But he's a narcissist and a drunk besides, and he's cruel to the only people who are genuinely nice to him.

So, I suppose it's interesting as an artifact and surely could be interesting to study, but this book is nothing to read if you're just looking to pass the time, even if you think you like dark and challenging literature.

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