Quote of the Day: Miss Lonelyhearts

The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (are-you-in-trouble? — Do-you-need-advice? — Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. On it a prayer had been printed by Shrike, the feature editor.

“Soul of Miss L, glorify me.

Body of Miss L, nourish me

Blood of Miss L, intoxicate me.

Tears of Miss L, wash me.

Oh good Miss L, excuse my plea,

And hide me in your heart,

And defend me from mine enemies.

Help me, Miss L, help me, help me.

In saecula saeculorum. Amen.”

Although the deadline was less than a quarter of an hour away, he was still working on his leader. He had gone as far as: “Life is worth while, for it is full of dreams and peace, gentleness and ecstasy, and faith that burns like a clear white flame on a grim dark altar.” But he found it impossible to continue. The letters were no longer funny. He could not go on finding the same joke funny thirty times a day for months  on end. And on most days he received more than thirty letters, all of them alike, stamped from the dough of suffering with a heart-shaped cookie knife.

~ from Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West.

Miss L

I love that Rod Serling leap into the metaphor zone at the end there — purple and fully extended.  


5 Responses to “Quote of the Day: Miss Lonelyhearts”

  1. Now all you need is a still of Monty Clift in Lonelyhearts — the rather damp film version of West’s excoriatingly bitter (word-du-jour stateside) little masterpiece.

    He was better served by John Schlesinger in Day of the Locust.

  2. I didn’t even realise there WAS a film. Robert Ryan as Shrike, that immediately intrigues. I guess the title change stems from no leading man wanting to play a “miss”.

    I quite like the Schlesinger, that riot at the end was one of the most enduring visions of hell I’d ever seen when I saw it on TV as a kid. And Karen Black compels attention.

    Checking IMDb I find an Eric Roberts Miss Loneyhearts and TWO Lee Tracy’s, both of which seem like gross distortions of the novel’s tone. I’d dig seeing Tracy in a straight-on adaptation though: the depressive flip-side of all his manic journalists!

  3. Donald Sutherland stomping Jackie Earle Haley to death is in image that will never leave my brain pan.

    The film also captures the light in L.A. like no other. There’s a wonderful moment where Karen Black is hovering on the doorstep of Willaim Atherton’s bugalow — moving in and out of the inense light of the late afternoon.

  4. All this, in the Schlesinger, and the song “Hot Voodoo” too!

  5. There’s a really distinct look to most Hollywood recreations of the ’30s — they tend to use blown-out windows and diffusion all over the place which, combined with them being in colour and widescreen, makes them look completely unlike actual ’30s films — WC Fields and Me is the other one that comes to mind, but I’m sure there are others. But I’m pleased at the thought that Day of the Locust is ACCURATE in terms of light.

    Chinatown gains points for adopting a look that’s even less like 30s cinema but which feels MORE real.

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