It's the birthday of novelist Nathanael West, born Nathan Weinstein in New York City (1904), who wrote two great novels that mixed tragedy and comedy: Miss Lonely Hearts (1933), about an advice columnist who's overcome by the sadness of the world, and The Day of the Locust (1939), about the Hollywood subculture of failed actors who become stuntmen, extras, criminals, and prostitutes. West had terrible luck as a writer, and his books sold few copies. In a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, he wrote, "Somehow or other I seem to have slipped in between all the 'schools.' ... I forget the broad sweep, the big canvas, the shot-gun adjectives, the important people, the significant ideas, the lessons to be taught ... and go on making ... private and unfunny jokes." Eight months after he got married, he and his wife were killed in a car accident. Most of his work is collected in Novels and Other Writings, published by Library of America in 1997. Nathanael West said, "Forget the epic, the masterwork ... you only have time to explode."
I liked Alison Bechdel's blog post today. Gonna read her links later.
However, what I really want to say is How could I have not known yet of Beth Ditto?