"THE FINEST PROSE TALENT OF OUR AGE" (WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS): FIRST EDITION OF NATHANAEL WEST'S COOL MILLION
WEST, Nathanael. A Cool Million: The Dismantling of Lemuel Pitkin. New York: Covici-Friede, (1934). Octavo, original green cloth, original dust jacket. $5000.
First edition of West's "brilliantly successful" satire, in rare variant green cloth, a handsome copy in the colorful original dust jacket.
A Cool Million, West's wickedly funny third novel, was "conceived as a satire on the American dream of success—one of the most illusory and bitterly disappointing dreams during the depression. More personally, West's family's fortunes and his own had suffered considerable decline. As a child he had read Horatio Alger, and his parents had been inspired by the American Dream, but the success story was now thoroughly revealed as mythical. West's hero, Lemuel Pitkin, is a classic schlemiel, whose every effort at success is a failure" (ANB). "It describes, in prose that is like a long heavy wink, the adventures of a country bumpkin called Lemuel Pitkin in search of success on the American pattern of free enterprise. By the time he has finished he has been in jail, lost his teeth, his eyes, a leg, his scalp, witnessed an infinite number of rapes, riots, and been the tool for both Communist and Fascist organizations… in its awareness of political technique, its devastatingly true analysis of unrestricted capitalist method, its foreshadowing of Americanism turned into a possible Fascism, A Cool Million is brilliantly successful" (Ross, Complete Works, xvii). First edition, in rarely found variant green cloth (instead of tan or russet cloth) containing horizontal rule instead of spine imprint: one of only two copies in this binding cited by White, the other in a collection of the late Allan Covici. Bruccoli & Clark I:411. White 4. Hanna 3738.
Book fine; small chip to lower front corner of bright near-fine dust jacket.