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Life And Legend

April 08, 1990

Ernest Callenbach (Book Review, March 11) says that for more than half of my novel "Destiny Express" I keep "the dramatic materials of the (Fritz Lang) legend off-stage." This may be true; but it's a criticism only if you intend to write a book following that legend, which, in fact, I didn't. I am accused of neglecting what Callenbach envisions as "the heart of (my) tale," i.e., the legend, for "an oblique and tedious account of the deteriorating relationship between Lang and his collaborator-wife."

Unfortunately, it's in this other part that my work as a novelist resides--in the fiction about the marriage. It is just the material that Callenbach dismisses as irrelevant, in fact, that the New York Times Book Review termed "depicted in the novel with the artfulness of one of (Lang and von Harbou's) exquisitely structured screenplays... sparely, deeply poignant." It's the material that Thomas Pynchon called "darkly romantic" . . .

I read your Book Review often; my only real criticism is that it can, at worst, tend toward blandness. So it's with some pleasure that I greet the appearance in the review of a piece that has some teeth.

Which only multiplies my regret that those teeth were sunk into my book.

HOWARD A. RODMAN

LOS ANGELES

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