April 10, 2012

Mystery Solved

One of my favorite novels, Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust, features a character named Homer Simpson who is a putz. I'd never seen any proof other than the fact that it would be too much of a coincidence for Matt Groening's character to share such a unique name with a character in an old novel, but here we go:
Back in high school I wrote a novel about a character named Bart Simpson. I thought it was a very unusual name for a kid at the time. I had this idea of an angry father yelling “Bart,” and Bart sounds kind of like bark—like a barking dog. I thought it would sound funny. In my novel, Bart was the son of Homer Simpson. I took that name from a minor character in the novel The Day of the Locust, by Nathanael West. Since Homer was my father’s name, and I thought Simpson was a funny name in that it had the word “simp” in it, which is short for “simpleton”—I just went with it.
In Day of the Locust, Homer Simpson tries desperately to seem cool and suave when, in fact, he's just clumsy and has homoerotic tendencies. The former is an obvious quality of Groening's Homer but I've never detected the latter in The Simpsons.