I'm not a big fan of the naturalism movement in American lit., which was heavily influenced by French writers, and included Dreiser, London and Crane. They depicted a world driven by external forces (esp. economic) and characters with little inner life whose primal instincts for sex, survival and power often drove them to destruction. Hemingway wasn't all that far removed from their philosophy, although he added a veneer of existentialism and glamor. Anyway, Frank Norris, who also wrote "The Octopus," was one of the major writers of the period and this is perhaps his best book, a tale of a couple undone by greed, bad luck and stupidity. Don't look for much redemption here. Like Dreiser, his style is crude, but powerful, like a dumb beast. This was the basis for Erich Von Stroheim's ambitious, sprawling and doomed film "Greed," which is only available in a truncated version.
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