The Dream Life of Balso Snell

The Dream Life of Balso Snell In this Dada inspired work the first novel of the author of Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust the eponymous anti hero stumbles across the Trojan Horse and climbs inside His journey ta

  • Title: The Dream Life of Balso Snell
  • Author: Nathanael West
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 467
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Dream Life of Balso Snell

    In this 1931 Dada inspired work, the first novel of the author of Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust, the eponymous anti hero stumbles across the Trojan Horse and climbs inside His journey takes him through a mental jungle, offering an unforgettable look at the dark side of the American dream.

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      Posted by:Nathanael West
      Published :2019-06-19T06:11:52+00:00

    One thought on “The Dream Life of Balso Snell

    1. Travelin

      Warning: this is a review of a sophomoric book you're unlikely to read. It also contains a hint of insult about some readers.I once kept a stack of recycled printouts at university, for keeping notes on the back. On turning a printout over, I discovered a short, really hilarious paragraph spewed out one night, probably by a bored engineer with nothing better to do, about his old dog, somewhere in a gothic south, and the lump it developed on its back. For some reason I remember that passage bett [...]

    2. Heather Fryling

      The entitled man's Alice in Wonderland, the illusions that strips away all pretense and leaves our author with nothing but scat and entitlement. Funny, crazy, offensive. I would never have read it had it not been included with Miss Lonelyhearts in a collection I bought. A fascinating little gem.

    3. Dan

      intelligent, innovative, surreal, obsessive, short, unsatisfying work of an american in paris in 1920s. tale-within-a-tale theme reminded me of robert irwin, though i like his arab settings better. but you need to be in the right mood for that, which i'm not sure i ever am.

    4. Tanner

      Totally awesome piece of weird/magical realism fiction. At least those are the genres I think it falls under. Under appreciated novel by West.

    5. Alan

      This is a greatly entertaining, snide, petulant, hilarious and rather tossed off little surrealist jig. It contains some great writing and great depravity: I am thinking specifically of one character’s first person account of why it was absolutely imperative to the preservation of his sanity that he murder a certain ‘idiot’ dishwasher of his acquaintance. The physical descriptions of this idiot’s neck do clearly justify murder. But what I love most about the book is its disgust it with w [...]

    6. Ben Dutton

      That title. From the moment you hear it, you cannot forget it. In a first year university course on contemporary American writing, one of the works we studied was West’s last novel, The Day of the Locust. The edition I bought of that work came with Balso Snell, and though I never got around to reading it then, the title remained lodged in memory. Sorting out my library the other week – most of my books have been stored in boxes since university, some years ago now – I discovered those book [...]

    7. Chris

      Nathanael West is known best for "The Day of the Locust," and then probably "Miss Lonelyhearts." He only wrote four novels before his untimely death by head-on auto accident in 1940, none of them likely to keep your back door open on a gusty day. This one, his debut, is the smallest by far, clocking in at a sub-novella length of 59 pages. Still, it doesn't feel like a short story, just a short What makes "Miss Lonelyhearts" and "Day of the Locust" so interesting (especially in light of his years [...]

    8. Seth

      "O Anus Mirabilis!"Woah. Weird, even by West's standards. While I wish he didn't feel the need to spell it out, this novel is a rag-tag assortment of different voices of urgency and rapture--voices of writers who cry out in vanity to be listened to. I have little luck finding a more defining "theme" to the novel (other than lackadaisically applying other West themes to it [ones that certainly show their faces here and there] such as hedonism versus traditional morality and the vanity of creative [...]

    9. Gabriel

      Closer in spirit and structure to the proto-Surrealism of De Chirico (and his brother, Alberto Savinio-- his "Psyche" is a strange half-brother to Balso Snell) than to the principled chaos of dAdA (the blurb at the top of this page likens it to dAdA for some reason). Also reminded me a great deal of Luis Bunuel; made me want to watch "The Exterminating Angel" and "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" back-to-back. It's 62 pages, funny, and maybe not a world-beater, but still a pretty good way [...]

    10. Jamie Grefe

      West's prose seduces me to the hightest degree, but I can't help think about his untimely death and the possibilities of what he could have went on to produce. This short piece, to me, someone who greatly enjoys bizarre forms of music, film, poetry, television and so on, resonates and gives joy to my life. I feel caught in a mind in love with the strangeness of life, the strangeness of creation and love and lust and beauty and comedy. Yes, this is a funny book, but funny in the way that PFFR cre [...]

    11. Mike

      At 50 pages, West's early, surreal parody of literary genres is exactly the right length. I laughed, I was impressed, and just as I started to lose patience with it, it was over.

    12. Chris

      Bizarre yet engaging. Nihilistic for sure, but: “And when dying, will you be able to say, I turn down an empty glass, having drunk to the full, lived to the full? Is it not madness to deny life?”

    13. Daniel Polansky

      Hysterical, vicious. An elaborate series of very cruel jokes about the pointless futility of writing and of art more generally. There's nothing really by way of story, just a lot of peculiar asides and a pretty fabulous Dostoevsky impression. West is one of the better comic writers I think I ever read, laugh out loud funny. Keep.

    14. Tiffany

      Ermmm I'm sure there were a ton of allusions in here that I just didn't get. What I was able to get, though, was complete nonsense and absurdity. Some of it was entertaining, and some not. It wasn't Terrible, but I was also glad it was a short story.

    15. Josh A

      Balso Snell takes a journey of weirdness, stories and pain INSIDE of the Trojan Horse. Balso is a Poet, and encounters other writers and storytellers searching for an audience. Another wild and wacky cynical satire from West!

    16. Griff

      Tedious, highly referential, and distractingly experimental. It felt like reading young Beckett with less sparks. There are enjoyable tidbits but they're consumed and swallowed up by the format and the author's infatuation with proving to the reader that he is well-read. I had just finished Miss Lonelyhearts and wanted to read more West; I'd advise similar readers to look elsewhere to whet their whistles.

    17. Dalia

      I've made some pretty good progress with my reading "boundaries", so to speak. It took me a while to warm up to existentialist/absurdist literature but, alas, I did it. I've been truly enjoying Camus works, and intend to delve into the other writes as well. But surrealism may be where I have to draw the line. I don't know, I just felt like that was a complete waste of my time. I love Nathanael West, but this one is really experimental and I wouldn't recommend it.

    18. Roger

      West is a master satirist. Balso Snell is an exploration of the concept of the novel, and even fiction in general. It takes place within the Trojan horse -- a symbol for the beginnings of literature. Funny, funny stuff. West draws readers in with sorrowful musings, then slaps them in the face by reminding them again and again: this is nothing but a book, you silly thing.

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