Nathanael West Popular Books

Nathanael West Biography & Facts

Nathanael West (born Nathan Weinstein; October 17, 1903 – December 22, 1940) was an American writer and screenwriter. He is remembered for two darkly satirical novels: Miss Lonelyhearts (1933) and The Day of the Locust (1939), set respectively in the newspaper and Hollywood film industries. Early life Nathanael West was born Nathan Weinstein in New York City, the first child of Ashkenazi Jewish parents, Anuta (Anna, née Wallenstein, 1878–1935) and Max (Morduch) Weinstein (1878–1932), from Kovno, Russia (present-day Kaunas, Lithuania), who maintained an upper middle class household in a Jewish neighborhood on the Upper West Side. West displayed little ambition in academics, dropping out of high school and only gaining admission into Tufts College by forging his high school transcript.After being expelled from Tufts, West got into Brown University by appropriating the transcript of a fellow Tufts student, his cousin, Nathan Weinstein. Although West did little schoolwork at Brown, he read extensively. He ignored the realist fiction of his American contemporaries in favor of French surrealists and British and Irish poets of the 1890s, in particular Oscar Wilde. West's interests focused on unusual literary style as well as unusual content. He became interested in Christianity and mysticism, as experienced or expressed through literature and art.West's friends at "Camp Paradox," a summer camp in Adirondack, New York, nicknamed him "Pep" in ironic reference to his somnolent disposition. West himself acknowledged and made fun of his lack of physical prowess in recounting the story of a baseball game where he cost his team the game. Wells Root, a close friend of West, remembers hearing this tale half a dozen times, recalling that everyone had placed bets on the game, which came down to the final inning with the score tied and the enemy at bat with two outs. At that point the batter hit a long fly towards West; He put his hands up to catch it and for some inexplicable reason didn't hold them close together. The ball tore through, hit him in the forehead, and bounced into some brush. There was a roar from the crowd and [West] took one look and turned tail. To a man, the crowd had risen, gathered bats, sticks, stones, and anything they could lay hands on and were in hot pursuit. He vanished into some woods and didn't emerge until nightfall. In telling the story he was convinced that if they had caught him they would have killed him. It is unclear whether this ever actually happened, but West later re-imagined this in his short story "Western Union Boy". As Jewish students were not allowed to join most fraternities, his main friend was his future brother-in-law S. J. Perelman. (Perelman married West's sister Laura.) West barely finished at Brown with a degree. He then went to Paris for three months, and it was at this point that he changed his name to Nathanael West. His family, who had supported him thus far, ran into financial difficulties in the late 1920s. West returned home and worked sporadically in construction for his father, eventually finding a job as the night manager of the Hotel Kenmore Hall on East 23rd Street in Manhattan. One of West's real-life experiences at the hotel inspired the incident between Romola Martin and Homer Simpson that would later appear in The Day of the Locust (1939).In 1933 he was employed as the manager of the Sutton Hotel in New York City, located at 330 E. 56th Street. Author Although West had been working on his writing since college, it was not until his quiet night job at the hotel that he found the time to put his novel together. It was then that West wrote what would eventually become Miss Lonelyhearts (1933). Maxim Lieber served as his literary agent in 1933. In 1931, however, two years before he completed Miss Lonelyhearts, West published The Dream Life of Balso Snell, a novel that he had conceived of in college. By then, West was within a group of writers working in and around New York City that included William Carlos Williams and Dashiell Hammett.In 1933, West bought a farm in eastern Pennsylvania but soon got a job as a contract scriptwriter for Columbia Pictures and moved to Hollywood. He published a third novel, A Cool Million, in 1934. None of West's three works sold well, earning him less than $800, so he spent the mid-1930s in financial difficulty, sporadically collaborating on screenplays. Many of the films he worked on were B movies, such as Five Came Back (1939). It was at this time that West wrote The Day of the Locust. He took many of the settings and minor characters of his novel directly from his experience living in a hotel on Hollywood Boulevard.In November 1939, West was hired as a screenwriter by RKO Radio Pictures, where he collaborated with Boris Ingster on a film adaptation of the novel Before the Fact (1932) by Francis Iles. West and Ingster wrote the screenplay in seven weeks, with West focusing on characterization and dialogue and Ingster focusing on the narrative structure. RKO assigned the film, eventually released as Suspicion (1941), to Alfred Hitchcock; but Hitchcock already had his own, substantially different, screenplay. Hitchcock's screenplay was written by Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison (Hitchcock's secretary), and Alma Reville (Hitchcock's wife). West and Ingster's screenplay was abandoned, but the text can be found in the Library of America's edition of West's collected works. Death On December 22, 1940, West and his wife Eileen McKenney were returning to Los Angeles from a hunting trip in Mexico. West ran a stop sign in El Centro, California, resulting in a collision in which he and McKenney were killed. (Their deaths occurred the day after that of their friend F. Scott Fitzgerald.) McKenney had been the inspiration for the title character in the Broadway play My Sister Eileen, and she and West had been scheduled to fly to New York City for the Broadway opening on December 26.West was buried in Mount Zion Cemetery in Queens, New York, with his wife's ashes placed in his coffin. His work Although West was not widely known during his life, his reputation grew after his death, especially with the publication of his collected novels by New Directions in 1957. Miss Lonelyhearts is widely regarded as West's masterpiece. Day of the Locust was made into a film which came out in 1975, starring Donald Sutherland and Karen Black. Likewise Miss Lonelyhearts (1933) saw production in film (1933, 1958, 1983), stage (1957), and operatic (2006) versions; and the character "Miss Lonelyhearts" in Hitchcock's film Rear Window has parallels to West's work.The obscene, garish landscapes of The Day of the Locust gained force in light of the fact that the remainder of the country was living in drab poverty at the time. Though West attended socialist rallies in New York City's Union Square, his novels have no affinity to the novels of his contemporary activist writers such as John Steinbeck and John Dos Passos. Wes.... Discover the Nathanael West popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Nathanael West books.

Best Seller Nathanael West Books of 2023

  • Ein Roman mit Apellfunktion - Nathanael Wests - The Day of the Locust synopsis, comments

    Ein Roman mit Apellfunktion - Nathanael Wests - The Day of the Locust

    Eva Steinbrecher

    Wests Plot der 1939 erschienenen Novelle The Day of the Locust ist im Los Angeles zur Zeit der großen Depression (19291941) angelegt. In seinem sozialkritisch motivierten Hollywo...

  • Study Guide to The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West synopsis, comments

    Study Guide to The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West

    Intelligent Education

    A comprehensive study guide offering indepth explanation, essay, and test prep for Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust, one of West’s great novels that comments on the social an...

  • Essential Novelists - Nathanael West synopsis, comments

    Essential Novelists - Nathanael West

    Nathanael West & August Nemo

    Welcome to the Essential Novelists book series, were we present to you the best works of remarkable authors.For this book, the literary critic August Nemo has chosen the two most i...

  • The Last Equation of Isaac Severy synopsis, comments

    The Last Equation of Isaac Severy

    Nova Jacobs

    Wall Street Journal’s “Mysteries: Best of 2018” Book of the Month Club Selection Edgar Award Nominee: Best First Novel by an American Author A “hugely entertaining” (Wall Street Jo...

  • Alive Inside the Wreck synopsis, comments

    Alive Inside the Wreck

    Joe Woodward

    “Wildly funny, desperately sad, brutal and kind, furious and patient, there was no other like Nathanael West.” Dorothy Parker "Joe Woodward gives us an invaluable guide to the diff...

  • Lonelyhearts synopsis, comments


    Marion Meade

    A “breezily entertaining” look at the comic couple who hobnobbed with Dorothy Parker, S. J. Perelman, Bennett Cerf, and other luminaries of their day (The New York Times Book Revie...

  • O DIA DO GAFANHOTO - Nathanael West synopsis, comments

    O DIA DO GAFANHOTO - Nathanael West

    Nathanael West

     Nathanael West, nome original Nathan Weinstein, (1903 – 1940), foi um escritor americano, conhecido principalmente por seus romances satíricos na década de 1930. Suas obras m...