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The Day of the Locust and The Dream Life of Balso Snell

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  126 ratings  ·  11 reviews
These two novellas demonstrate the fragility of the American dream, from two very different perspectives. In 'The Day of the Locust', talented young artist Tod Hackett has been brought to Hollywood to work in the design department of a major studio. He discovers a surreal world of tarnished dreams, where violence and hysteria lurk behind even the most glittering facade. Li ...more
Paperback, 234 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (first published April 25th 1991)
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The five stars, for The Day of the Locust not the dream life of Balso Snell. The first part of this book is some kind of nightmare, with the city of Los Angeles,set in flames. I want to read this book again, mostly The day of the locust , I wonder if this text should be thought of as a literary horror story its a text about a city that's eating its self alive and some of the main characters in this text are just a small cluster of this self eating organ. The Dream Life of Balso Snell, I don't kn ...more
it's not perfect, but i like it
An intoxicating book which explores the Surrealism underlying the American Dream. Here the Hollywood dream is subverted, and the life of the characters' that inhabit this dream-scape (filled with culture-clashes, falling stage-props, dwarfs, paper sphinxes, rubber dead horses in pools) imitate art. Characters become inter-textual, stuck in a cycle of following out the American Novel, objectified as works of art: Goya, Rosa, Daumier, the Surrealists - everything is parodied in Hollywood. Even the ...more
Sarah Hall
Not bad. Tod, the talented artist, meditates on the disenfranchisement of middle class America. Culminating in a riot scene, he has an epiphany about all the people he knows.
Darryl Berger
Insidious, desperate, creepy.
There were a few moments when I felt the book was upto something great, especially in Balso Snell, but it soon faded. The Day of the Locust seemed predictable, and even in its relative shortness seemed pretty lengthy. The book is about showmanship and how people get addicted to it, a theme which has already been beautifully depicted by showmen themselves, so much so that a book on that subject seems dull.
*The review is for The Day of the Locust.

Really liked this book. A lot of passages make you sit up and take notice. I think the author is fantastic in the way he makes you feel the ugliness on the streets and either the desperation or glaring arrogance in the faces of many of the characters. This is a unique and memorable group of people he brings together if only for a short time.
Chris Burland
For a book touted as a look at the movie industry, there's much of the narrative takes place away from the studio's control. Its a dark atmosphere filled with fringe characters doing unsavoury things to each other. Sad and short....
Homer Simpson is in the book, but this one's more self-conscious than the other. There's a painting in it too. In Balso Snell they all climb into the anus of a trojan horse and find things. Good fun.
Interesting, kind of predictable, abrupt ending. It was good but I don't know that it was 100 greatest modern novels good.
The three stars are all for The Day of the Locust, which is good if obvious. The Dream Life of Balso Snell is poor.
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Born Nathanael von Wallenstein Weinstein to prosperous Jewish parents; from the first West set about creating his own legend, and anglicising his name was part of that process. At Brown University in New York, he befriended writer and humourist S. J. Perelman (who later married his sister), and started writing and drawing cartoons. As his cousin Nathan Wallenstein also attended Brown, West took to ...more
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