In the winter of 1933, after the ups and downs of publishing Miss Lonelyhearts and finally selling it to Hollywood for some $4,000, Nathanael West went to Hollywood to write for the movies. The idea that he might leave the hotel business and become a writer was now a real possibility. However, within weeks of arriving his contract was dropped and he was returning east.
West decided then he'd use his new fortune to support himself while he worked on a new novel. That novel, originally titled America, America, was written in a matter of a few months and finally titled A Cool Million: The Dismantling of Lemeul Pitkin.
West dedicated the novel to S. J. Perelman, his brother-in-law and known satirist. It is the "dismantling" tag that is often left off of any description of it. Yet, it is the most important part. It is a political novel, West's only, and is certainly relevant to America today--especially as we prepare to go to the polls to vote tomorrow. West's novel of warning, warning of a coming "American Fascism" was brutally frank. It's message a clear one: "See How We Are." Whether you agree with his description of the forces behind it all is another story. Whether you find it funny, too.