Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mini Review of the Little Religion of "Miss Lonelyhearts"

Boy-o, "Miss Lonelyhearts" is a short read by Nathanael West. I don't know that I have tons of thoughts about it. It started much stronger than I believe the rest of the story held up. It has an excellent climax. Someone forgot the middle, I think. Or maybe I'm just being lazy, as reviewing goes.

The story was, if I'm being overly critical, far too concerned with Miss Lonelyhearts, the man (Miss Lonelyhearts is a nom de plum that, nonetheless, is the only name by which the main character is referenced throughout the novel), and not enough with his job, which is advice dispenser for a widely read advice column.

My copy came used and annotated by an individual who focused on the many allusions to religion West makes. I think these allusions are a bit trite and obvious, not to make light of the reader who came before me and her (the handwriting suggests it was a female) interests / concerns.

The humanity of the story is in its people who populate Miss Lonelyhearts' column. Those who desire advice, those who are in many ways victims of the advice itself. For example, what proves Miss Lonelyhearts' undoing is when he allows himself to become romantically entangled with one particularly effusive advice seeker. In exposing himself as something quite human and of the earth he relinquish the quasi-deity potency he once held, not so much to his public but to himself, though his hold of it was already beginning to wane. And in fact that is what the story speaks to, the notion of adequacy as dispenser of truth. Miss Lonelyhearts is just another man behind the curtain, no Great and Powerful Oz. Why should his fate be any different than ours?

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