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****Excellent ***Good **Fair *Poor : AUDIOCASSETTES

November 17, 1987|CHARLES CHAMPLIN | Compiled by Terry Atkinson

"The Day of the Locust" by Nathanael West. (Abridged by Serena Helps, two cassettes.) Listen for Pleasure. West's dark, nightmarish look at Hollywood's failing hopefuls, circa 1940, was filmed by John Schlesinger in 1975, with a cast including reader William Atherton himself as Tod Hackett, West's sane observer among the crazies. The actor's calm telling of the fiercely satirical goings-on, building to the mad, premiere-night riot which ends the book, makes it all seem more like reportage than invention. Not a bad idea, since the Hollywood West wrote about can still be sensed in the bungalowed streets just off the boulevards and in the architecturally garish hills. Yet so sensible a reading unfortunately also dilutes the gaudy colors of West's vision, which becomes more plot than atmosphere. Information: (800) 843-8404. ***

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