Post 7: Fun Facts and more research.

I’m continuing to research West by writing summaries of the materials I found on my trip as well as re-reading all of West’s novels and minor works. Looking over my work this summer, I’m pleased to have made much progress on my thesis and I look forward to the intense and rewarding work ahead of me during the next two semesters. My current feeling on West’s novels are that Miss Lonelyhearts is the best book by a small margin over The Day of the Locust, followed by The Dream Life of Balso Snell, and A Cool Million being his weakest novel.

Some interesting facts I’ve learned about West and his works:

1. Flannery O’Connor said that her two favorite novels which had the greatest influence on her were Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts and William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.

2. West claimed to write upwards of 4,000 words in his 8 hour work days as a screenwriter (given his screenplay output, this claim is believable.) When I have written 4,000 words in 8 hours, the results were less than admirable so I commend his success here.

3. West’s prolific screenplay writing is reflected on his IMDB page (but not all of his works are on there.)

4. West’s wife was Eileen Mckenney who the play My Sister Eileen is based on (which was later made into a musical by Leonard Bernstein called Wonderful Town.)

5. West was a horrific driver by S.J. Perelman’s and his friends’s accounts.

6. Every screen adaptation of Miss Lonelyhearts either discards the plot or uses only the most superficial details from the novel (the premise and the title were appealing to adapt alone, it seems.)

7. West’s first novel took him several years to write, as did Miss Lonelyhearts (which was painstakingly reworked multiple times), but his subsequent two novels were finished on a faster timeline. I suspect his prolific screenplay writing helped immensely with his speed in writing The Day of the Locust in comparison to The Dream Life of Balso Snell.

Stay tuned for more fun facts and more details about my research!