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Miss Lonelyhearts

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3.61  ·  Rating details ·  3,441 ratings  ·  343 reviews
As described by Atkinson in the NY Times: "A scornful feature editor of a newspaper picks an ambitious young reporter to conduct the advice of the lovelorn column. Ambitious, opportunistic, 'Miss Lonelyhearts,' as the conductor of the column is inevitably dubbed, begins with contempt of the correspondents and confidence in his own cleverness. As time goes on, the genuinene ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published July 17th 2013 by New Directions (first published 1933)
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3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,441 ratings  ·  343 reviews


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Bill  Kerwin
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, novels

This is a great little novel, so compelling and disturbing that I have trouble writing about it. It is unique in its elliptical development, its harsh realism verging on nightmare, and its emotional viciousness. I have read it three times, at least, and each time I have a slightly different reaction to it.

The novel's main character is an advice columnist--hence the name "Miss Lonelyhearts"--who is going insane under the weight of his disordered life and the burden of the letters from desperate s
...more
BlackOxford
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
Choosing Your Poison

A story of relentless, universal, even cosmic failure. Every character is a failure: as writer, poet, husband, wife, journalist, and most importantly, follower of Jesus Christ. All are "stamped with the dough of suffering," demonstrate a sort of extreme frustration-neurosis, and are demoralised. Failure provokes cruelty and hatefulness: men dislike each other; men despise women, and gay men only slightly less; women manipulate men when they can; they ignore them when they can
...more
Petal Eggs
This is another book that has disappeared from my shelves. GR insist on treating each instance of this as though I might have deleted the book 'by accident' or it's a one-off bug, but I have lost a lot of books and I'm not the only one. I suspect it has something to do with either librarians combining books or changing the names of authors, correcting them. But I can't quite work out how. However I can't think of any other actions that would affect just the odd book and not a lot of books wholes ...more
Duane
Don’t be misled by the title and the cover. This short book takes a hard look at serious human issues. Published in 1933 during the “Great Depression”, Miss Lonelyhearts is a dark comedy making light of readers problems. The unnamed narrator and writer of the column is a man. The newspaper considered the advice column a joke, and so did the writer at first. He sums it up best in a conversation with a lady friend, and I’m paraphrasing here. “After a time he doesn’t consider the column a joke anym ...more
Richard Derus
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Book Circle Reads 100

Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: Praised by great writers from Flannery O'Conner to Jonathan Lethem, Miss Lonelyhearts is an American classic. A newspaper reporter assigned to write the agony column in the depths of the Great Depression seeks respite from the poor souls who send in their sad letters, only to be further tormented by his viciously cynical editor, Shrike. This single volume of Miss Lonelyhearts features its original Alvin Lustig jacket design, as well a
...more
Jan Rice

A popular notion that makes the rounds on Facebook goes something like this: Life doesn't come with a remote. If you don't like something, get up off your (couch) and change it.

Last Sunday's Prickly City comic strip expressed it this way:
PricklyCity2015/08/09
"I was wondering: Why do you let bad things happen?"
"Why do you let bad things happen"
"Touché."
Prickly City, August 9, 2015


But, what if one is confronted with horrific circumstances way beyond one's pay grade? And really believes it's one's personal responsib
...more
Perry
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stela-eða-láni
Charged with Meaning; Lefty Leaning

"I don't really like to stop the show
But I thought that you might like to know
That the singer's going to sing a song
And he wants you all to sing along"
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," Lennon-McCartney

I wasn't nearly as enamored by this 1933 eighty-page novella, full of existential black humor, as the Yale prof/lit critic Harold Bloom, primarily because Nathanael West couldn't hide his contempt for all religion nor his scarlet leanings.

As the book be
...more
Vipassana
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who can laugh at the absurdity of it all
Shelves: humour, fiction
I had a really weird laugh at the end of this one. Something that might be born if 'huh?' and 'haha!' were to copulate.

Miss Lonelyhearts, a man known only by the name of his agony aunt style column, is deeply affected by the letters from his readers. At the beginning of the tale he appears to be on the fence with his ideas on faith and slowly tumbles into a full blown messiah complex. Along the way, Nathanael West's astute observations and sharp wit keep us entertained.

Man has a tropism for ord
...more
classic reverie
While reading my last book, The Man in the High Castle, a character was asked if he read "Miss Lonelyhearts"(ML) by Nathanael West which he replied he never read that story, so he could not tell the Asian couple the meaning of it. After having read this I bet the Asian couple were in a kind of culture shock. I googled (ML) & it was a real book published during the Depression, 1933, so of course I had to read this short story to find out what made Philip K. Dick mention it in his works. I lov ...more
Rebecca
West was a contemporary of F. Scott Fitzgerald; in fact, the story goes that when he died in a car accident at age 37, he had been rushing to Fitzgerald’s wake, and the friends were given adjoining rooms in a Los Angeles funeral home. There’s more than a hint of similarity to The Great Gatsby here: this is a very American tragedy and state-of-the-nation novel, and it’s remarkable how much it achieves in so few pages. “Miss Lonelyhearts” (never given any other name) is a male advice columnist for ...more
Nicole
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: little-gems, re-reads
that was....not what I expected.

There is a section where Shrike effectively tortures Miss Lonelyhearts with narrative, telling story after story of other lives, possible lives, while Miss Lonelyhearts lies in bed suffering from an illness that may or may not be entirely spiritual.

Then you've got the letters to Miss Lonelyhearts, themselves also narratives of other lives, of suffering lives, though these are nothing like what Shrike puts together, the slick, generic productions he uses to torme
...more
Amal Bedhyefi
This has got to be one of the strangest book I've ever read.
Miss Lonelyhearts is a very American tragedy and state-of-the-nation novella published in 1933 .
The unsuspecting, poetic, obnoxious and tragic characters , the illiterate letters-to-the-editor, describing the personal misery and failures of the public and the peculiar writing style filled with dark humour left me dazzled.
This short novella is a brutal depiction of everything that went wrong during the "Great Depression".

Chrissie
I guess I will write a review, but all it can possibly contain is a list of what I dislike.

The way the book is described in the Audible book description made me think it might be interesting! To be fair, I will tell you what they say:

“Miss Lonelyhearts is Nathanael West's second novel. It is an Expressionist black comedy set in New York City during the Great Depression.”
“In the story, Miss Lonelyhearts is an unnamed male newspaper columnist writing an advice column, which is viewed by the newsp
...more
Antonomasia
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: a will-o-the-wisp
[4.5] Such finely-wrought internal thought; clumsiness, sometimes brutality in the external world. (Plenty of reviewers seem to disagree with the former: many give this short novella either 2-3 stars for having an awful, unrelatable protagonist - I've read plenty nastier - or 5 for all-round brilliance.) It's a close-third person narrative, which, during pauses, I recalled as a first-person, such was its access to one character's inner life whilst the rest remained as if behind a pane of frosted ...more
Beth
Jul 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miss Lonelyhearts is the tale of a male advice columnist in Depression Era New York City. Though the column is intended to be fluff, and is seen as such by the editor to whom Lonelyhearts reports, for the people who write seeking advice, it is serious. The columnist finds himself overwhelmed by the many versions of tragedy that he must respond to, becomes depressed, and turns, on one hand, to drink, fights, and affairs, and on the other to a Christianity he deeply believes in, but which is mocke ...more
Catherine Elcik
Feb 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What the hell just happened?? I wanted to love this book. I bought this book because a sign from a bookseller recommended it by saying, "the only book Jane and I have ever agreed on." Oh. I see the problem now. I assumed they agreed it was great. Clever bookseller. Alas, no. He probably loved it. As Flannery O'Connor is on record loving it. As Harold Bloom (aka literary tastemaker who revived this book) is on record saying it's his favorite work of American prose fiction. There are some lovely t ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: list-1001, usa
Aside from terrible selection of cover, this is a beautiful book - a small existional capsule set in times of Great Depression. It probably would have made a more powerful theatrical play. Miss Lonelyhearts is name of a newspaper column written by (surprise! Surprise!!) a man, offering religious advice when he is himself bored and distressed by his job. As if it wasn't enough of commoditification, the real name of writer is not named and he is constantly refered to as Miss Lonelyhearts.


"Everythi
...more
Rick Slane
A somewhat amusing look at life in the USA in about 1930 from the perspective of a reluctant advice columnist.
Alex
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mallory ortberg
Shelves: 2016
Nathanael West wrote four short books, of which two - Miss Lonelyhearts and Day of the Locust - eventually became minor classics. He died in a car crash at 37, ensuring a namecheck in JG Ballard's Crash. He was a modernist, by which I mean he's a little confusing.

Miss Lonelyhearts was almost a graphic novel, which would certainly have been something; as it is, it's something else. The title character, never named aside from "Miss Lonelyhearts," stumbles through a life of agonizing empathy. He w
...more
Bryan
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea what to make of this. I am just going to back away slowly from it.
Cphe
A depressing little novella that reads much longer than the 80 pages listed. A story about a male journalist who replies to letters that are sent to the column "Miss Lonelyhearts". He is ill equipped to deal with the woes of humanity.

This isn't what I expected, I thought it would be much lighter in content but I should have guessed otherwise as it is listed on the Boxall 1000 list.
Laura
Free download available at eBooks@Adelaide.

Opening lines:
The Miss Lonelyhearts of The New York Post–Dispatch (Are-you-introuble? — Do-you-need-advice? — Write-to-Miss–Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. On it a prayer had been printed by Shrike, the feature editor.
Nazish
It would not be wrong to say that this unconventional modern American prose is a work of genius! How much does it encompass the abstract aberration of this world is another matter altogether. The characters come out so murky and noir at the end of the chapters that you silently shiver under the intricacies of the plot.
Miss Lonelyhearts is a journalist who runs an advice column for the Desperate, Brokenhearted, Sick-of-it-all, and Disillusioned-with-tubercular-husband. People believe in his inte
...more
C.J. Cummings
I am, once in a while, stunned by a book for the reasons bordering on bad, and this was one of those times. Miss Lonelyhearts, and West, were truly ahead of their time, and the murky and dark and downtrodden nature of the words are an aspect I can say I gained enjoyment from, but the story itself, the content, the plot, and the way it unfolded, was something I found very difficult to like. This isn't a bad book, and some might even call it magnetic and brilliant, but for me it was a huge disappo ...more
Sarah
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has got to be one of the strangest book I've ever read. Like a wild, acid dripping fever dream, the characters in this book are over the top, unsuspecting, poetic, obnoxious and tragic all at the same time. The narrator, both a hero and antihero in varying moments, has layers and layers of complexity, and he never even gets a name.
West undoubtedly worked tirelessly on this because the interwoven themes of depression, spirituality and social anxiety really came through in a nuanced and hear
...more
Nigeyb
Dec 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a bizarre book. I raced through it. I quite enjoyed it but overall found the unremitting Depresson-era bleakness a bit too much and the humour, such as it was is so very dark.

I suspect there are numerous themes that might be interesting to dwell upon but, to be honest, I am glad to finish it and not particularly keen to dwell upon it.

I read it for a group read discussion in January 2015 so, after we've discussed it, and I've reflected on it, I may come back and update this review. For now
...more
Vanessa
A cynical sombre and quietly depressing feel amidst some manic ramblings and religious fervour, this is one book that captures the mood of New York City during the oppressive depression era and takes us on a dark tour de force. Witty yet bleak this is definately not a lite book although short in length. A good read if you enjoy something left of centre.
Ebtihal Abuali
Jan 13, 2017 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I blame myself for not reading the advice of one of the reader's professor: "Do not read this book if you are already in a bad state of mind. "
Failed to engage with the story. So will stop at page 70.
Kimbofo
I’m quite a sucker for books written or set during the Great Depression. Nathanael West’s novella Miss Lonelyhearts, published in 1933, fits into this category, but I’m afraid it didn’t really tickle my fancy.

This dark and comic tale about an agony aunt on a Manhattan newspaper is described in Peter Boxall’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die as an “interesting examination of the problematic role of Christianity in the modern world”. But for me it serves as a warning to be careful of what y
...more
Lauren
My lit professor assigned this and said, "This book is depressing! Do not read this book if you are already in a bad state of mind. I will reward you with happy poetry next week if you get through this book." As someone prone to emotional outbursts when reading seriously sad things, I got nervous. So I sat down in the learning center next to the office of my sort of on-campus emotional and academic advisor and poured through it. It wasn't long until I realized that this wasn't depressing at all. ...more
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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 Rhode Island, 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 too ...more
“He read it for the same reason an animal tears at a wounded foot: to hurt the pain.” 49 likes
“He's an escapist. He wants to cultivate his interior garden.” 25 likes
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