Books From the Slush Pile: ‘The Selected Letters of Elia Kazan’


The bins of rejected review copies. Aspiring authors, avert thine eyes!


Note: I have been rummaging through the bins of review copies put out for the staff, trying to pick out books that are related in some fashion to the L.A. Daily Mirror’s themes.

“The Selected Letters of Elia Kazan,” edited by Albert J. Devlin and Marlene J. Devlin, published by Alfred A. Knopf, $40, caught my interest. I’m a snoop at heart and enjoy reading old letters and I suspect I’m not the only one. A volume of William Faulkner’s correspondence from World War I enjoyed a long and happy life in the guest bathroom at the Daily Mirror HQ before it eventually vanished.

This is a weighty book – 672 pages – but is, unfortunately, only half the conversation as we never hear from any of Kazan’s correspondents, who include Tennessee Williams, Clifford Odets,  John Steinbeck, Budd Schulberg, Molly Day Thacher (Kazan’s wife) and many others.

An in-depth review appears in the New York Times | A review in the Hollywood Reporter

A few of the letters are short – like the one warning Warren Beatty to clean up his act to avoid being typed as a troublemaker. But most are long and involved. The book is certainly not beach reading and more likely to end up in nuggets in DVD commentaries, but it’s worth keeping around. On the jump, a sample selected at random, to Marlon Brando, Pages 241-244, regarding “On the Waterfront.”





About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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