Hard Cover. New York: Covici-Friede, 1934. First Edition. Very Good / Dust Jacket Included.
First edition, first printing. Presentation copy, inscribed in green ink by West on front free endpaper: "For Sally and Phil - / Affectionately / Pep / Nathanael West." Publisher's tan cloth with titles in green to front board and spine; original orange dust jacket with wraparound illustration of youth holding a gun, lettered in black, jacket designed by William Cotton. Very good or better with some toning to spine and endpapers, hint of dampstaining to top left corner of rear board, mild fraying to foot of spine, and a tiny closed tear to spine; very good unclipped dust jacket with light fading to spine, a chip to upper left of front panel, some shallow chipping to spine ends, and a few tiny creases and nicks to jacket edges. Overall, a great copy with an excellent association. A Cool Million tells the story of Lemuel Pitkin, a poor boy who optimistically goes out into the world to find his fortune and is met with a series of devastating mishaps, most of them resulting in some type of disfigurement. At the same time, unscrupulous banker and former president Shagpoke Whipple uses anti-Semitic and anti-communist rhetoric to become a fascist leader. The book satirizes Horatio Alger's "rags to riches" stories and shines a light on the dark side of the American Dream. The literary critic Harold Bloom included the book in his prestigious canon of Western literature. F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose classic book The Great Gatsby (1925) also satirizes the American Dream, praised West's "scenes of extraordinary power" and "vividly drawn grotesques." This copy is inscribed by West to Philip Wylie, a best-selling American author who wrote an incredibly wide range of fiction and non-fiction. Similar to West, much of Wylie's writing reflected his concerns with American society. Wylie co-authored the book When Worlds Collide, an early apocalyptic novel that laid the groundwork for doomed planet heroes like Flash Gordon and Superman. He also wrote Generation of Vipers, a collection of essays that he characterized as "a catalogue of what I felt to be wrong morally, spiritually and intellectually with my fellow citizens." The collection attacks many foundational aspects of American society - politics, Christianity, etc., and is perhaps best known for the controversial essay "Common Women," in which Wylie opposes the "sanctification of motherhood" in America and coins the term "Momism." As an example of the essay's impact, Roger Ebert cited it as a likely influence on the family dynamic displayed in the iconic film, Rebel Without a Cause. In his inscription, West signs his name "Pep," a childhood nickname that stemmed from his "notable deficiency in that quality" (The Atlantic).