Monday, January 19, 2015

Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West (Liveright 1933)

Miss Lonelyhearts, help me, help me

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.

On his desk were piled those he had received this morning. He started through them again, searching for some due to a sincere answer.

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