Miss Lonelyhearts, the masterwork, West's second, is a triumph. Published in 1933, it's a lyric celebration of what is possible in the short novel. What is possible, what can be done, is this: SEE HOW WE ARE.
In fifteen short entries, I'll take you the best of the novel's fifteen short chapters--sharing the best of it. Pointing to the page...
"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.
"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."
"And on most days he received more than thirty letter, all of them alike, stamped from dough of suffering with a heart-shaped cookie knife."
"Art Is a Way Out."
"Do not let life overwhelm you. When the old paths are choked with the debris of failure, look for newer and fresher paths. Art is just such a path. Art is distilled from suffering."
"For those who have not the talent to create, there is appreciation. For those..."
"Go on from there."
Indeed, the psychological break caused by Miss L's religious conversion is underway, is in mid-stream. If Christ is not the way. If Art is not the way. Well...well...that's West. He writes novels of questions. His villans are beautiful and always win, and so on.