He reached the end of Vine Street and began the climb into Pinyon Canyon. Night had started to fall. The edges of the trees burned with a pale violet light and their centers gradually turned from deep purple to black. The same violet piping, like a Neon tube, outlined the top of the ugly, hump-backed hills and they were almost beautiful.” Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West

October 17, 2013 marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of Nathanael West, author of the 1939 novel The Day of the Locusta biting depiction of Hollywood, the movie business, and life in Los Angeles.

West, like his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald, was working as a screenwriter in 1940 — the year that marked the end to both men’s lives. Fitzgerald dropped dead of a heart attack at age 44 on December 21, 1940 at an apartment in near Sunset and LaCienega. West and his wife died the following day in an auto accident — when some believe they were on their way to a memorial service for Fitzgerald. During his four years in Los Angeles, West wrote over a dozen screenplays.

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