Miss Lonelyhearts

Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nathanael West
spend
an evening beside the fireplace with Proust and an apple. Alas, after much good
fun the day comes when you realize that soon you must die. You keep a stiff
upper lip and decide to give a last party. You invite all your old mistresses,
trainers, artists and boon companions. The guests are dressed in black, the
waiters are coons, the table is a coffin carved for
you by Eric Gill. You serve caviar and blackberries and licorice candy and
coffee without cream. After the dancing girls have finished, you get to your
feet and call for silence in order to explain your philosophy of life. 'Life,'
you say, 'is a club where they won't stand for squawks, where they deal you
only one hand and you must sit in. So even if the cards are cold and marked by
the hand of fate, play up, play up like a gentleman and a sport. Get tanked,
grab what's on the buffet, use the girls upstairs, but remember, when you throw
box cars, take the curtain like a dead game sport, don't squawk.'...
    "I won't even ask you what you
think of such an escape. You haven't the money, nor are you stupid enough to
manage it. But we come now to one that should suit you much better...
    "Art! Be an artist or a writer.
When you are cold, warm yourself before the flaming tints of Titian, when you
are hungry, nourish yourself with great spiritual foods by listening to the
noble periods of Bach, the harmonies of Brahms and the thunder of Beethoven. Do
you think there is anything in the fact that their names all begin with B? But
don't take a chance, smoke a 3 B pipe, and remember these immortal lines: When
to the suddenness of melody the echo parting falls the failing day. What a
rhythm! Tell them to keep their society whores and pressed duck with oranges. For you l'art vivant, the living art, as
you call it. Tell them that you know that your shoes are broken and that
there are pimples on your face, yes, and that you have buck teeth and a club
foot, but that you don't care, for to-morrow they are playing Beethoven's last
quartets in Carnegie Hall and at home you have Shakespeare's plays in one
volume."
    After art, Shrike described suicide
and drugs. When he had finished with them, he came to what he said was the goal
of his lecture.
    "My friend, I know of course
that neither the soil, nor the South Seas, nor Hedonism, nor art, nor suicide,
nor drugs, can mean anything to us. We are not men who swallow camels only to
strain at stools. God alone is our escape. The church is our only hope, the
First Church of Christ Dentist, where He is worshiped as Preventer of Decay.
The church whose symbol is the trinity new-style: Father, Son and Wirehaired
Fox Terrier...And so, my good friend, let me dictate a
letter to Christ for you:
     
    Dear
Miss Lonelyhearts of Miss Lonelyhearts --
    I
am twenty-six years old and in the newspaper game. Life for me is a desert
empty of comfort. I cannot find pleasure in food, drink, or women--nor do the
arts give me joy any longer. The Leopard of Discontent walks the streets of my
city; the Lion of Discouragement crouches outside the walls of my citadel. All
is desolation and a vexation of the spirit. I feel like hell. How can. I
believe, how can I have faith in this day and age? Is it true that the greatest
scientists believe again in you?
    I
read your column and like it very much. There you once wrote: 'When the salt
has lost its savour , who shall savour it again?' Is the answer: 'None but the Saviour ?'
    Thanking
you very much for a quick reply, I remain yours truly,
    A
Regular Subscriber"

 
MISS LONELYHEARTS IN THE COUNTRY
     
    Betty came to see Miss Lonelyhearts the next day and every day thereafter. With
her she brought soup and boiled chicken for him to eat.
    Hie knew
that she believed he did not want to get well, yet he followed her instructions
because he realized that his present sickness was unimportant. It was merely a
trick by his body to relieve one more profound.
    Whenever he mentioned the letters or
Christ, she changed the subject to

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