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Miss Lonelyhearts
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Group Reads Archive > January 2015- Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West

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message 1: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
Welcome to the first group read of 2015! Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West


message 2: by Nigeyb (last edited Jan 01, 2015 06:45AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb What a bizarre book. I raced through it just before Xmas.

I quite enjoyed elements of it but overall found the unremitting Depresson-era bleakness a bit too much and the humour, such as it was is oh so very dark. I also found the casual misogyny dated and grating.

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

Once I'd finished it, my overriding emotion is relief that I read it so fast and it's over. It's unusual and eminently readable but dark and bleak too. Not really to my taste.

I'm very interested in what my fellow BYTers make of it as I wonder if I was a bit harsh as it was a so out of kilter with the bonhomie and good vibes of Xmas.

message 3: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I saw it at the library the other day and after thumbing through it, decided it was best left on the shelf. Maybe if others like it, I'll give it a chance, or maybe at some other time.

message 4: by Nigeyb (last edited Jan 01, 2015 01:41PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb Understandable Jennifer.

It got votes from Lori, Amy, Jan C, Barbara, and Bronwyn in the poll so we'll get plenty of comment and participation throughout the next few weeks.

I'm really interested in reading alternate views, as I say I think it might have been the right book at the wrong time.

Barbara | 394 comments I just read this article which I found quite interesting.

Barbara | 394 comments More in the next couple of days as I ponder this book.

Did anyone else notice the humor in naming the editor Shrike? That's a bird that impales its prey. It's sometimes called a butcher bird. Seems pretty appropriate!

message 7: by Nigeyb (last edited Jan 02, 2015 04:30AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb ^ That Daily Beast link makes it sound brilliant. Perhaps it is?

The novel’s power lies in its sick laughter in the face of implacable doom. No act of charity goes unpunished.

I did indeed notice the significance of naming the editor Shrike. What a bizarre character he was eh? "Bizarre" sums up the whole book actually.

I'm looking forward to reading a few more reactions from other BYTers as I think it was a really curious novel and perhaps, not always in a good way.

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments I found this very dark, and am not sure I always understood it, but thought the writing was powerful. I hadn't noticed the naming of Shrike, Barbara, thanks for that.

I'd recommend the film starring Montgomery Clift, but I think the book is more complex and disturbing.

Nigeyb ^ Monty Clift eh? Not seen that one. I will investigate further. Thanks Judy.

message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments I believe it's on Youtube in sections.

message 11: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 833 comments I'm not sure Hollywood would make a film as dark as the book. I thought they prefered to send the audience out with some little ray of hope.

Nigeyb ^ I've just watched the first three parts (about 15-20 mins) of the fllm version just to get a feel for it.

Based on what I watched it is, and as you suggest Val, nowhere near as dark as the book version.

That impression is confirmed by Wikipedia...

In 1958 the plot was again filmed as Lonelyhearts, starring Montgomery Clift, Robert Ryan, and Myrna Loy, produced by Dore Schary and released by United Artists. Although following the plot of the book more closely than Advice to the Lovelorn, many changes were made. The movie greatly softens the cynical edge of the original book, and the story is once more given a happy ending—the woman's husband is talked out of shooting Miss Lonelyhearts, who finds happiness with his true love, and Shrike is considerably kinder at film's end.

Here's part one for anyone that is interested...

message 13: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments I'd seen the film first, so I was somewhat startled by how dark and despairing the book is by comparison. I do like the film though, and think Clift gives a good performance.

message 14: by Charles (new)

Charles Val wrote: "I'm not sure Hollywood would make a film as dark as the book. I thought they prefered to send the audience out with some little ray of hope."

The Day of the Locust was filmed. It's pretty good.

message 15: by Charles (new)

Charles Maybe it should be said that West's ability to raise these responses and evoke such unrelieved blackness and despair is evidence of his craft. I myself think a book as unrelievedly happy as this one is dark would be revolting and a much stronger tour de force, but so far West's achievement goes unchallenged. Some Graham Greene, perhaps.

message 16: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments Barbara, thanks for the link to The Daily Beast piece - to learn that the letters in the story are real makes it all the bleaker.

message 17: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 833 comments Charles wrote: "The Day of the Locust was filmed. It's pretty good."
I have not seen that film either, but it is also a dark book. The characters in it are victims of their own desires and delusions to a greater extent than the ones in Miss Lonelyhearts (although West might argue that to hope for anything is a delusion).

Nigeyb How are other BYTers getting on with Miss Lonelyhearts?

Jan? It was your nomination....

Jan C wrote: "This is a repeat nomination - Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West. My copy comes in a combination set - Miss Lonelyhearts/The Day of the Locust."

Lori, Amy, Barbara, Bronwyn?

I'm looking forward to reading more thoughts and ideas about this one.

message 19: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I'm reading. I did see the movie years ago.

Years ago I remember reading a book which had 4 short bios on 4 authors, one of which was West.

Much like his friends, he followed the call to Hollywood. Most of them complained about being whores - Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, etc. So while he was out there whoring for his living he also purchased a motel (possibly up to 3) where most of his friends stayed when down on their luck and wouldn't pay and paid some minimal amount. I found it interesting that he married the "Eileen" from My Sister Eileen. Unfortunately, they both died in a car wreck on their way back from Mexico the weekend Fitzgerald died.

I am also still reading a biography of West, Lonelyhearts: The Screwball World of Nathanael West and Eileen McKenney by Marion Meade.

message 20: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments The motel may have been the basis for The Day of the Locust - also a good movie; although there is a portion I have difficulty watching (squeamish me!).

message 21: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin | 39 comments I thought this was a great book, but didn't find it enjoyable to read - although perhaps a timely reminder that greatness in art can come from a very different place to enjoyability. I also felt that this was a book I would need to come back to in time - it had one of those slightly eerie optical-illusion feels, in that it was such a short book containing so many ideas that you couldn't take it all in at once. Jarring and a little overwhelming, but both in good sense.

message 22: by Nigeyb (last edited Jan 06, 2015 12:10AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb Jan C wrote: "I'm reading. "

What do you think of it so far Jan?

Erin wrote: "I thought this was a great book, but didn't find it enjoyable to read - although perhaps a timely reminder that greatness in art can come from a very different place to enjoyability."

That's an interesting way of thinking about it...

Greatness vs enjoyment

I had a similar response in terms of the extent to which I enjoyed it. Once I'd finished it, my overriding emotion was relief that I read it so fast and that it was over. I thought it was original and interesting too,

I had a similar feeling when reading Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr., which is unquestionably an important book: groundbreaking, shocking and original, however - and in common with Miss Lonelyhearts - I would not go back for another go. I'm glad I've read both books but both were too bleak and too dark for me.

Erin wrote: "Jarring and a little overwhelming, but both in good sense."

An interesting concluding comment Erin. Please say a bit more about that - especially the "good sense" part. How was the jarring good? And the sense of being overwhelmed? I'm very intrigued.

message 23: by Pink (new) - rated it 2 stars

Pink I have a free online copy in my computer background, but I have so much else to read I'm not sure I'll get to this one. Any thoughts on whether it's worth trying to squeeze in, or perhaps give it a miss for now?

message 24: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 833 comments It is very short Pink, and also very depressing.

message 25: by Pink (new) - rated it 2 stars

Pink Haha, short is good and depressing is something I like in a book!

message 26: by Nigeyb (last edited Jan 06, 2015 01:24AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb I read it in a couple of hours.

It is sufficiently original that I would say it is definitely worth reading 50 pages. If you don't like it you can always abandon it.

message 27: by Greg (new)

Greg | 330 comments I've had this on my bookshelves for some years. Thank you BYT for jogging me into reading it. The synopsis sound like it will appeal to me. I'm reminded of the character in The Loved One, the sage advice columnist the Guru Brahmin, though I doubt Miss Lonelyhearts is anything like the Guru Brahmin.

Nigeyb ^ Happy new year Greg. Great to see you back at BYT. I have a sneaky feeling you're going to like Miss Lonelyhearts. I look forward to your musings.

message 29: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I'm about halfway through. I don't know about depressing yet but I don't think he is that pleasant a character so far.

message 30: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin | 39 comments NigeyB, I found it jarring in a good sense in that the combination of end of the year rush, far too much rich food and a spell of humid weather had left me with a sense of inertia, which this book (as my first of the year) yanked me out of and reminded me why books are so important. I found it pleasantly overwhelming in that I knew it was tackling so many big issues about the human condition - far more than I could take in at the first read, and seemingly more than should fit in such a short book. I hope this explains it a bit better.

Nigeyb ^ Thanks Erin. That makes perfect sense and yet was a completely different explanation from what I had assumed you might say. I had no idea your own circumstances where playing a part in your reaction to the book. I find it fascinating to consider how our response to books, or indeed anything cultural, is, in part, determined by our circumstances, mood etc.

Jan C wrote: "I'm about halfway through. I don't know about depressing yet but I don't think he is that pleasant a character so far."

I'm trying to remember if there are any pleasant, or indeed sympathetic, characters in the book? What do you think Jan?

It's interesting that you have not found it depressing. I found the letters, the way the characters treated each other, the book's tone, the casual misogyny etc. to be very dark. Thinking about Erin's comment above, I now wonder how much that might have been about my mood. I felt a bit resentful about reading such a bleak book over Xmas. Perhaps I should have waited until January.

message 32: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments Maybe I am seeing it as a book about newspapermen and their world - possibly a darker world than you or I reside in. Although I did live in a fairly dark world before I retired - that of lawyers, courts and taxes (as we head once more into tax season).

I grew up reading Ann Landers and can't say I ever thought about what drove people to write their stupid letters. They were rarely a thing to shed a tear over, particularly after someone wrote a letter that must have had something to do with blindness. My father, at that time, was head of a sheltered workshop for the blind. They were inundated with letters from people after Ann mentioned his place in the column. All of them required a letter, mostly saying that he couldn't help them, whatever their problem was.

I guess the people must be desperate. But not so desperate that they want to pay for advice.

Of course, I am forgetting myself and forgetting that we are in the heart of the Depression here and most people can't afford to pay for advice.

message 33: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 833 comments The letters he quotes look more as though the writers are under-educated rather than stupid.
It was courteous of your father to decide that each letter writer required an individual reply, even though most of them were people he could not help.

message 34: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments Nigeyb, I'm interested in your comment about casual misogyny - do you mean the author is exposing this or that there is misogyny in the writing?

I certainly felt the book exposed misogyny - so many of the letters are from women who have been ill-treated. There's also the fact that the hero (if that is the right word) has to take on a female identity and this is what exposes him to hearing about their suffering.

But there could also be some misogyny in the portrayal of female characters, like the girlfriend who doesn't understand.

Nigeyb ^ HI Judy, It was more of a feeling than anything specific. The female characters are variously foolish, helpless, manipulative, and duplicitous. The men seem to also view them in these terms.

As a test I googled "Miss Lonelyhearts" and "misogyny" and got a few results back. This one is quite interesting (about chapter 7)...

This chapter's heading is one of the most effectively satirical lines in the novel. The "field trip" ostensibly takes Miss Lonelyhearts out of his confined office and into the world where his correspondents live and suffer. The "field," however, turns out to be Fay Doyle's body, and Miss Lonelyhearts makes his trip to satisfy his lusts, not to gather knowledge useful for his "priestly calling." The section opens with Miss Lonelyhearts back at his desk in a state of reverie. Statistics about murder and about home runs by Babe Ruth blend in his mind, suggesting that for the journalist and for the popular mind, murder is just another entertainment. These events take place, in West's words, in an imaginary desert, a desert which encloses Miss Lonelyhearts' desperate correspondents, who, spelling his name out with imaginary clam shells, look towards him as a picturesque Redeemer.

After Miss Lonelyhearts reads Fay Doyle's letter, he plans a sugary and trite pep-talk for his readers, but the imaginary desert reappears and his correspondents are now spelling out his name with random junk, adding even more ugliness to the desolation of the earlier fantasy.

Note here that Goldsmith, Miss Lonelyhearts' colleague, delivered Fay Doyle's letter to Miss Lonelyhearts with a knowing leer, for he has already read it, and he and Miss Lonelyhearts enact sort of a comic routine. Then Miss Lonelyhearts tosses the letter into the wastebasket, but as soon as he imagines his name spelled out with junk, he retrieves the letter. Fay's letter echoes the misogyny of the entire novel, this time from a woman's viewpoint, as Fay declares her distrust of women. In particular, Fay expresses scorn for her crippled husband as if his being crippled is the whole of his identity and prevents him from being a real husband. She has seen Miss Lonelyhearts — he was pointed out to her in Delehanty's — and the help that she really wants is not advice. Fay wants and needs sex with Miss Lonelyhearts.

Rest here...

message 36: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 833 comments It is a 'Miss Lonelyhearts' column, not a general advice column (if they exist). I suspect that a lot of people who say they want 'a full relationship' actually just want sex.

Nigeyb Whilst I was looking up references to misogyny in this book I came across some observations and questions that seemed to be related to a study of Miss Lonelyhearts.

I've pasted the text below. I think there's some quite interesting observations and questions for us to mull over during this discussion. I hope you find it interesting and provocative....

* * * * *
What’s In a Name?

- Miss Lonelyhearts: raises concerns over gender coding, social isolation, feeling and sentimentality

- Shrike: a bird, also known as the butcher- bird, which impales its prey upon thorns. The obvious reference to Christ is no doubt intended.


Miss Lonelyhearts is often read as a text about:

- New England Puritanism (The Scarlet Letter)
- The workplace (“Bartleby”)
- A failed Walt Whitman (Song of Myself)
- A hysteric (“The Yellow Wallpaper”)

Situating the Text

The Great Depression

- Between 1929 and 1932 the income of the average American family was reduced by 40%, from $2,300 to $1,500. Instead of advancement, survival became the keyword.

- The Depression impacted every area of American life, having a significant effect on arts and culture.

Situating the Text

- As a work of literature, the text presents as satire, allegory, and a novel of psychological development.

- It is primarily as a novel of psychological development, the key category into which the text falls, that we will discuss the text.


A topical literary work holding up human vices, folly, abuses, or shortcomings to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other means, sometimes with an intent to bring about improvement.

Examples of satire include: Gulliver’s Travels (Swift, 1726); Candide (Voltaire, 1759)


- A more or less symbolic fictional narrative that conveys a secondary meaning (or meanings) not explicitly set forth in the literal narrative. [Think of fables or parables.]

-Examples of allegory include: The Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan, 1678); Animal Farm (Orwell, 1945)

Novel of Psychological Development:

- Centres upon a gifted but incomplete individual and his/her struggle to become whole.

- This form of the novel is derived from the confessional tradition.

- Examples of the novel of psychological development include; The Sun Also Rises (Hemingway, 1926)

Miss Lonelyhearts and Religion

- Miss Lonelyhearts as a modern Christ figure

- Miss Lonelyhearts as Adam (story of the fall)

- Sin and redemption

- Shrike as Satan

- The apocalypse, the temptation of Christ in the wilderness.

- Nathanael West’s rejected Jewishness

- William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience

Miss Lonelyhearts and Gender Studies

- The repressed homosexual relationship between Shrike and Miss Lonelyhearts

- The designation of Miss Lonelyhearts under a feminine moniker.

- The question of misogyny in the text.

Miss Lonelyhearts and Psychoanalysis

- Miss Lonelyhearts as saint, psychotic, both

- Life as progress toward death

- Miss Lonelyhearts as hysteric

- The Oedipus complex: the Shrikes as Oedipal parents: the voice and the breast

- Sadism and the perversion of love

Miss Lonelyhearts and Social Criticism

- The exploration of social illusions regarding happiness and fulfillment

- A challenge to the notion that fulfillment can be achieved through nature, mysticism, self-sacrifice, sentimental love, or worldliness

Discussion Question #1

Though Miss Lonelyhearts almost certainly has a Christ complex, Christianity is primarily addressed by the text in terms of failure. Why might this be? What are the implications?

Discussion Question #2

Some critics have claimed that all suffering in the text is essentially female. Do you agree with this claim? Why or why not? What are the implications of such a reading of the text?

Discussion Question #3

Is Miss Lonelyhearts an hysteric? Why or why not? Considering our discussion of hysteria in “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a condition primarily ascribed to women, what are the implications of rendering Miss Lonelyhearts hysterical?

Note: For our purposes hysteria denotes an emotional excess.

* * * * *

What do you make of that?

message 38: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin | 39 comments Nigeyb wrote: "^ Thanks Erin. That makes perfect sense and yet was a completely different explanation from what I had assumed you might say. I had no idea your own circumstances where playing a part in your rea..."

Nigeyb, I think for me, circumstances often play a part in how I respond to books, which is why I am loathe to ever completely write off a book part way through. While Miss Lonelyhearts was bleak in many ways, I think it's brevity also saved it from being oppressively so. In contrast, The Jungle still sits on my table half-read, as I just couldn't face any more bad things happening to those poor, poor people. I had also attempted to read it on a lovely spring holiday, so I think it may have been the wrong time.

Barbara | 394 comments I agree with you totally, Erin. Miss Lonelyhearts was super bleak but it was such a quick read that I didn't really suffer while reading it. The Jungle was a real slog. Very interesting but just too many horrible things happened to that family.

Sorry I haven't made any comments on Miss Lonelyhearts. I still seem to be in holiday mode. Am part-way through several books, but making no real progress in any of them!

message 40: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I still have about 15 pp left in this book and I still haven't noticed the bleakness that everyone keeps talking about. I was hoping to finish it this weekend but got distracted by my new Roku. So, hopefully, the next day or so, unless I have to spend a lot of time cleaning the snow off the car - up to 4".

Re The Jungle - the part I found bad about this book was the lengthy introduction which drove me to listen to the book. I did know beforehand that it had such an effect as to make changes in the meat packing business. I think I was prepared for much worse than was in the book.

message 41: by Greg (new)

Greg | 330 comments I think the book is brilliant, some great writing. There are some great passages. The story is allegorical. I didn't find it 'depressing', I thought Go Tell It On The Mountain was somewhat depressing.

Thanks Nigeyb, for posting those points to consider.
I certainly agree with Erin and Barbara about how one responds to a book depending on when one reads it. Also, I find sometimes there can be one thing in a book that can hit a nerve and affect how I like the book.

Back soon with some thoughts.

message 42: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 833 comments I think where this book differs from The Jungle and Go Tell it On the Mountain is that there is nothing to get angry about. In The Jungle we can see the exploitation, injustice, corruption and profit-driven poor working conditions and poor hygiene; in Go Tell it On the Mountain we can see the narrow-mindedness and perhaps see it as partly a legacy of slavery. In Miss Lonelyhearts there is no 'enemy' except hope that things might be different or better.

message 43: by Greg (last edited Oct 29, 2015 06:36PM) (new)

Greg | 330 comments The story is allegorical. As is common with the allegorical form, it uses religion.
The trouble with a lonelyhearts newspaper column is the sort of crossing the proscenium arch between art and life - a newspaper column and people's real life problems. There's a dual negative/positive that that involves. On one hand, the positive of allowing one to talk to a stranger about their problems, just getting it off their chest, or a cry for help, albeit to an anonymous stranger (Miss Lonelyhearts), in a public forum, which is kind of a weird space. The negative is asking a stranger to advise how to solve their problems - problems that in a lot of letters, can't be solved.
The aching sadness in the letters highlights the fact that most of the letter writers find themselves in situations not of their making. The main reason the Miss Lonelyhearts column exists is the voyeuristic instinct to read about other peoples problems. The remark by Shrike advising Miss Lonelyhearts not to recommend suicide because that would reduce the readership, is shocking. If that is meant as dark satire, that's getting too dark.

Another observation, while reading this story, is comparing the social media available during the Depression era and that of today, now overwhelmingly narcissistic self promotion.

Here's a powerful piece of writing to reflect on and come back to.
'He found himself in the window of a pawnshop full of fur coats, diamond rings, watches, shotguns, fishing tackle, mandolins. All these thing were the paraphernalia of suffering: Man has a tropism for order. Keys in one pocket, change in another. Mandolins are tuned GDAE. The physical world has a tropism for disorder, entropy.'
'For the first time in his life, he is forced to examine the values by which he lived. Prodded by his conscience, he began to generalize. Men have always fought their misery with dreams. Although dreams were once powerful, they have been made puerile by the movies, radio, and newspapers. Among many betrayals, this one is the worst. The thing that made his share in it particularly bad was that he was capable of dreaming the Christ dream. He felt that he had failed at it, not so much because of Shrike's jokes or his own self-doubt, but because of his lack of humility.'

There are lots of great pieces of writing in there.
"Then he remembered Betty. She had often made him feel that when she straightened his tie, she was straightening much more". What is the symbolism here?

And so - the allegory has an oblique ending. We are not told Miss Lonelyhearts real name or how he fairs with his encounter on the stairs with Mr. Doyle.

message 44: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 833 comments Thank you for an interesting and thoughtful review Greg.
One of the links suggests that there is humour in the book, but I agree with you that it is very bleak, cynical humour and I could not find much to smile at.

message 45: by Pink (new) - rated it 2 stars

Pink I read this today and really didn't like it. Yes the content was bleak and I really hated the use of sex and violence. I guess it's true for the time, but it left me with quite a bad feeling.

Nigeyb Pink wrote: "I read this today and really didn't like it. Yes the content was bleak and I really hated the use of sex and violence. I guess it's true for the time, but it left me with quite a bad feeling."

Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Here's what I said above....

Nigeyb wrote: "Once I'd finished it, my overriding emotion was relief that I read it so fast and it's over. It's unusual and eminently readable but dark and bleak too. Not really to my taste."

That said, and as Greg so eloquently explains, there is also a lot in there for those that want to analyse and ponder the content.

message 47: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments Nigeyb, many thanks for all the material you posted above, including the thoughts on misogyny from the Cliff's Notes site and the discussion pointers and questions. A lot there to take in.

One question that particularly struck me was "Some critics have claimed that all suffering in the text is essentially female. Do you agree with this claim?"

I don't agree that it is *all* female, but I do think there is an overwhelming weight of female suffering, especially in the letters. I wonder if "The designation of Miss Lonelyhearts under a feminine moniker", to quote another line from the site you found, expresses how he is taking on all that suffering through his job.

message 48: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments Looking at this discussion and how many different topics this book brings up, I'm increasingly seeing how great it is, even though it isn't something I enjoyed reading - as Erin said above. One to revisit in future.

message 49: by Pink (new) - rated it 2 stars

Pink I think you're probably right Judy. I don't think I'd read it again, but I'm still glad to have read it.

message 50: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments Finally finished Miss Lonelyhearts. While some of you raced through it, I took my time. Actually, I just kept forgetting to pick it up.

I didn't really see anything depressing or bleak about it. Thought it was good.

Like Lonelyhearts, I, too, was a preacher's kid. Maybe that affects my outlook on the book. In the beginning I noticed that he might also have a bit of an OCD thing going on. But that seemed to be kind of dropped. Unless it helps to explain how much time he was spending in bed.

Most of the women were leading their lives, as hard as they might have been. But the person who seemed to be in pain throughout the book was Lonelyhearts himself. Through much of the book he is drinking like a fish - now they call it self-medicating.

While it isn't clear what happens at the end, we can surmise that the cripple and Lonelyhearts (also somewhat of a cripple) are dead or at least severely injured. But this is brought on more by Lonelyhearts' actions rather than the cripple's intentions. For both, it is a release.

On to Day of the Locust in my book.

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