For a while now I've been trying to remember the name of this novel. I read it back in 2003 when I was studying abroad in Wales. I took some great classes there and one I took for fun was a class called "Crisis of the American Self". No kidding. Did you know they have "American Studies" majors? I mean, it makes sense. But it still boggles my mind.
Anyway, along with The Catcher in the Rye, A Farewell to Arms, etc. we had to read Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West. I really loved this novel and was surprised I hadn't heard about it before. Have you?
It was published in 1933 and is set in New York City during the Great Depression. The protagonist of the story is a guy who writes an advice column for the newspaper, known as Miss Lonelyhearts. He is basically a big joke for the newspaper. Obviously after reading so many letters for advice he becomes very depressed and alcoholic. Obviously he gets into brawls and all that stuff. But at the same time it's pretty funny. It reminded me of a black and white movie...the one where the detective is sitting and smoking and the gorgeous lady asks for help. Picture that only the detective is a newspaperman pretending to be a lady writing an advice column. Definitely a black black comedy if you like that sort of humor.
I remember reading this and wondering why I hadn't heard of it before. It wasn't until I was perusing the 1001 To Read List that it popped out and rang a bell. I am definitely going to re-read it.
Oh, and I just love some of these covers. I don't remember which one I read (I think the duel novel one) but I'd love to own an old version: