A Cool Million and The Dream Life of Balso Snell: Two Novels

A Cool Million 1934 subtitled The Dismantling of Lemuel Pitkin , is a satiric Horatio Alger story set in the midst of the Depression and is written in a bracing, mock heroic style that has lost none of its wit or power The Dream Life of Balso Snell 1931 , West s first work, was described by one delighted critic as a fantasy about some rather scatalogical adventures oA Cool Million 1934 subtitled The Dismantling of Lemuel Pitkin , is a satiric Horatio Alger story set in the midst of the Depression and is written in a bracing, mock heroic style that has lost none of its wit or power The Dream Life of Balso Snell 1931 , West s first work, was described by one delighted critic as a fantasy about some rather scatalogical adventures of the hero in the innards of the Trojan Horse.
A Cool Million and The Dream Life of Balso Snell Two Novels A Cool Million subtitled The Dismantling of Lemuel Pitkin is a satiric Horatio Alger story set in the midst of the Depression and is written in a bracing mock heroic style that has lost none o

  • Title: A Cool Million and The Dream Life of Balso Snell: Two Novels
  • Author: Nathanael West
  • ISBN: 9780374502928
  • Page: 234
  • Format: Paperback
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    1 thought on “A Cool Million and The Dream Life of Balso Snell: Two Novels”

    1. Surprisingly surprising! Surprisingly violent! And to think that this yellowing Avon paperback languished in my parents’ unused basement sauna for at least 10 years, only to be rescued by me during the holidays; which is one of the few heartwarming stories in these “tough economic times”, as I’ve been reduced to scrounging around for free books anywhere I can, and if they’re set in the depression so much the better.The back cover copy says that “A Cool Million dismantles, piece by pi [...]

    2. Certainly lacking in contrast, both of these works percolate in the fears and insecurities of not only a nation unsure of regaining its footing, there is something fundamental in his horror, Edmund Wilson was correct, West was our Kafka.

    3. This books resides on my "WTF-s" bookshelf because of the novella "The Dream Life of Balso Snell". Not to spoil anything, but the novel recounts the said Mr. Snell's journey into the anus and up the colon and beyond of the Trojan Horse (of yore) and his encounters with various personages along the "journey". One might call this "experimental" fiction, but it's more of an odd footnote (I almost said "hoofnote") to the genre of "the hero's quest", though Mr. Snell is not exactly heroic. Critics ha [...]

    4. I probably found out about Nathanael West & read his 4 short bks when I was in my late teens. What a discovery! I divide his novels into the absurd (these 2) & the 'realistic' ("Miss Lonelyhearts" & "The Day of the Locust") but the delineation is tenuous. All 4 novels are social criticism. "The Dream Life of Balso Snell" is from 1931 & is a slim 60 pages. All I remember of it is that the protagonist finds the Trojan Horse & enters it thru its asshole - finding graffiti along [...]

    5. I feel that A Cool Million deserves more readers. An outrageous lampooning of the American dream and a picaresque which manages to out-brutalize Lazarillo de Tormes. The Dream Life of Balso Snell was a bit of a mess, not really worth my time.

    6. "A Cool Million." A savage, dark, cynical, and very un-PC little book. You were warned ;-)"The Dream Life of Balso Snell." I read this book -- also very short (about 60 pages) -- as an allegory. The protag is a poet who enters the Trojan horse (i.e. an iconic artifact of the classical literary canon) through "the posterior opening of the alimentary canal" (heh) (The only other two openings were the the mouth, but that was out of Balso's reach, and the navel, but that "proved a cul-de-sac." Doubl [...]

    7. "A Cool Million" is to literature what Preston Sturges' "Miracle at Morgan's Creek" was to cinema: a cleverly satirical jab at society that uses conventional narrative forms as a means of criticism and creativityd unstoppable laughter. West's "Million" is like a cinema serial gone completely awry though the naive heros and heroines of those cliffhanger episodes were dragged through the worst that contemporary life had to offer. "The Dream Life of Balso Snell," on the other hand, is an intriguing [...]

    8. Nathanael West wrote two of my favorite 20th Century American novels: Miss Lonelyhearts and Day of the Locust. I didn't realize (until a few months ago) that he'd also written two other novels: The Dream Life of Balso Snell and A Cool Million. These novels aren't nearly as good as his others and aren't really worth reading, unless you are a student of American Literature or a completist.Of the two in this collection, A Cool Million does have some entertaining moments, but gets so ridiculous that [...]

    9. Greatly enjoyed this book and these stories! Hard to believe these were written in 1931 and 34, the language and issues are quite contemporary. West has a unique voice and vision, I read his "collected works" sometime back and these were the two stories that stood out from that collection, even thought they aren't hailed as his best pieces. Dream Life of Balso Snell is simply bizarre and weird and trippy, never read anything quite like it. Wonderfully inventive and playfully irreverent! A Cool M [...]

    10. Balso was fun but weird. A Cool Million was exactly as advertised, a very (very) sarcastic jab at Horatio Alger stories. Both were good. Day of the Locust/Miss Lonelyhearts are clearly the high points in his criminally short career. I always forget how funny West is and more so, how modern his humor feels. His sarcasm and satire still feel razor sharp today. I really wish we could have gotten one more novel out of him. Reading his earlier work has only reinforced my feeling that he was one novel [...]

    11. One of Hunter Thompson's favorites, and thanks to the Doctor for listing it. Stunningly cynical, this dark little gem decapitates the Horatio Alger myth and dumps a load down its throat. In its own evil way, "A Cool Million" sheds more light on the American Dream - our most cherished national delusion - than a hundred thousand pages of Ayn Rand.

    12. Narratorial intrusions, shifts of person and register (pastiches of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Arthur Rimbaud, and William Shakespeare in the latter work), and different literary forms—the letter, the drama, the narrative, the poem. The resonance with Thomas Pynchon’s work is evident—verbal excesses, fantasies, satiric exaggerations.

    13. Haven't read A Cool Million yet, although I plan to.Read Dream Life over the course of a couple drunken train rides back from the city, and maybe it's not such a great book to read when you're not sober. Intentionally, kind of over-the-top bizarre in a way that isn't so satisfying, as I never felt like there was much of a payoff.

    14. Some moments of brilliance, but there's a reason why most people talk about Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust as his masterworks.The Dream Life of Balso Snell, however, makes me wonder if John Barth or any of the other slightly wacky metafiction folks held it as an influence, especially since it was written all the way back in 1931.

    15. Did West assume his readers were too simple to understand any degree of subtlety or was he too simple to write with one? At least it was a quick read. I didn't mind either tale, and did find humor in several parts, but thought there wasn't as much substance behind the too-obvious satire as I had hoped to uncover.

    16. The thing with Nathanael West is that his concepts are more interesting than his prose style. Yes, he's funny, but he's also straightforward and dry, in my opinion. So as a grouping of novels, yes, he's a terrific satirist. But taken individually, the novels areh.

    17. Not as resonant as A Day of the Locusts, but certainly worth the time it takes to read these novellas. A Cool Million just gets drearier and drearier. I laughed a lot. Strange that West isn't required reading.

    18. Nathanael West changed my life in college. My professor William Melvin Kelley suggested I read him and everything about West's writing blows me away. I wish I could write like him. Please read these two novels. West deserves to be heard.

    19. The. Worst. Just total ugh and disgusting on multiple levels. For a very particular sense of humor that I'm very thankful not to have.

    20. The Dream Life of Balso Snell is brilliant!Cool Million was also really enjoyable but not quite as hilarious.Both are heavily satirical and ironic. West is (as always) a brilliant writer

    21. A bit sophmoric and heavy handed when compared with Day of the Locust and Miss Lonelyhearts, but then what isn't?

    22. 'a cool million' is perfect satire, capturing the amercian dream in a twisted yet oddly humerous way

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