Nathanael West: The Art of His Life. By Jay Martin. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1970. 435 pp.

Joe Ryan


In 1930, Nathanael West was 26 years old and had just finished his first novel, The Dream Life of Balso Snell. He worked as night manager at the Kenmore Hall Hotel, a glorified rooming house in Manhattan, which was partially owned by his uncle. Later that year he was hired as manager of the Sutton Hotel, which gave him the opportunity to observe the life of the masses, with whom he had a great propensity to identify. In a sense, these hotels became
West's laboratory, his imaginative Paris. They evoked a vivid
personal response in him and were a fertile source of fantasy. In the thirties when, like West, a great number of Americans escaped the horrors of the depression through fantasy, the author dealt in fiction with mass life on the deepest possible and most relevant level by concentrating on the fantasies of the masses.


English Language; English


Copyright (c) 1990 Joe Ryan

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