From his name to his college transcript to his literary style, Nathanael West was self-invented. Born Nathan Weinstein, the author of the classics Miss Lonelyhearts (1933) and The Day of the Locust (1939) was an uncompromising artist obsessed with writing the perfect novel. He pursued his passion from New York to California, flirting dangerously with the bleak, faux-glamour of Hollywood as the country suffered through the grim realities of the Great Depression. At the center of a circle of vigorous young literary writers that included Malcolm Cowley, William Carlos Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald, S. J. Perelman, and Dashiell Hammett, West rose to become one of the most original literary talents of the twentieth century—an accomplished yet regrettably underappreciated master of the short lyric novel. West was finally starting to enjoy financial stability as a Hollywood screenwriter when he died in the California desert. A notoriously bad driver, he was racing back from a vacation in Mexico with his young bride of eight months when he crashed at full speed into another car. He was dead at the age of 37. Out now on OR Books by Joe Woodward, a biography of Nathanael West entitled Alive Inside The Wreck. You can also purchase the biography here.