Although West did little schoolwork at Brown, he read extensively.
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He ignored the realist fiction of his American contemporaries in favor of French surrealists and British and Irish poets of the s, 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 classmates at Brown nicknamed him "Pep" after a school trip where after only a few minutes of walking he quickly ran out of breath.
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.
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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.
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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.
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 s. 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 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 Albert Camus — He had planned to take the train from Provence back to Paris.
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But at the last minute, the Nobel laureate Albert Camus accepted a ride from his publisher and friend, Michel Gallimard. On Jan.
Camus, 46, died instantly and Gallimard died a few days later. Both survived. He also sank into a depression that led him to slash his left wrist and arm in early The suicide attempt failed, and a month later his wife Mary committed him to a psychiatric hospital in Chapel Hill, N. He was there when his final book of poems, The Lost World , appeared to some savage reviews. Though stung, Jarrell returned to UNC-Greensboro in the fall, where he was a dedicated and revered teacher.
In October he was back in Chapel Hill undergoing treatments for the wounds on his left arm. On the evening of Oct. As a car approached, Jarrell stepped into its path.
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His head struck the windshield, punching a hole in the glass. Was it a suicide? A tragic accident? One thing we do know is that this brilliant critic, uneven poet and inspiring teacher died too young, at 51, the same age as his heroes Proust and Rilke. The driver entered an S-curve at excessive speed, lost control and tore through a barbed-wire fence.
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Farina died instantly, at the age of Wallace Stegner — For a writer who lived such a long and fruitful life — he was a teacher, environmentalist, decorated novelist and author of short stories, histories and biographies — Wallace Stegner does not enjoy the readership he deserves. It was at Stanford that Stegner started the creative writing program and nurtured a whole galaxy of supernova talents, including Edward Abbey, Ernest Gaines, George V.
A heart attack and pneumonia followed, and he died in the hospital at the age of For all his love of the West, Stegner knew it was no Eden.
The West as a whole is guilty of inexplicable crimes against the land: admit that too. The West is rootless, culturally half-baked. So be it. Steve Allen — Though best known as a television personality, musician, composer, actor and comedian, Steve Allen also wrote more than 50 books on a wide range of topics, including religion, media, the American educational system and showbiz personalities, plus poetry, plays and short stories.
On Oct. Neither driver appeared to be injured in the fender bender, and they continued on their ways. He never woke up. On the day of his death Allen was working on his 54th book, Vulgarians at the Gate , which decried what he saw as an unacceptable rise of violence and vulgarity in the media. Sebald — It has been said that all of the German writer W.
I lived for a time in Cologne, target of some of the most merciless bombing. But I never heard anyone say a word about the horror of watching the sky rain fire. Until Sebald dared to speak. She grew up in Cleveland and moved to Manhattan at 21 in search of romance and adventure. She and her sister lived in a basement apartment in the Village with a street-level window into which men frequently peered.
Lonelyhearts: The Screwball World of Nathanael West and Eileen McKenney
Husband and wife were intimate with F. Perelman, Bennett Cerf, and many of the literary, theatrical, and movie notables of their era.
With Lonelyhearts , biographer Marion Meade, whose Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin earned accolades from the Washington Post Book World "Wonderful" to the San Francisco Chronicle "Like looking at a photo album while listening to a witty insider reminisce about the images" , restores West and McKenney to their rightful places in the rich cultural tapestry of interwar America.
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