The book under consideration, written by Nathanael West, is situated in 1930sHollywoodand goes about the lives of quite a few natives who are in some way or the other connected to the film industry. In the present day, a lot of critics deem it the most excellent novel aboutHollywoodthat has ever been written, but at the time when it was published not too many people took notice of it and it was left somehow ignored. As has been said by Richard B. Gehman in his foreword to the reprint of this novel that took place in the year 1976, several detractors of that time believed that the novel was definitely in “bad taste.”
The novel combines down-to-earth features, for example characters that have various flaws, with the synthetic and dreamlike ambiance of the film production. People today also tend to live lives that are somewhat dreamy. A fresh graduate from Yale University, Tod Hackett is presented as a demonstrator and set designer for a motion picture company. He shares his apartment building with Faye Greener, an aspirant and go-getting actress who would never go out with Tod considering that he is neither well-off nor good-looking. This somehow holds true for the American teenagers for today as well. Riches and looks here still matter a lot. By means of Faye, Tod gets to be introduced to a cast of sordid and depressing individuals who he has it in mind to take in in his outsized painting, “The Burning of Los Angeles.” His entire life is spent unproductively going behind Faye and envisaging the aggressive panoramas that he wished to produce in his painting, just like a vast number of Americans today who try to grab something that is totally out of reach and in the meanwhile let go off what they can achieve.
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