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IT'S THE WHAT OF HOLLYWOOD NOVELS?

August 28, 1994

In response to David Ehrenstein's review of "Playland" by John Gregory Dunn (Aug. 14): If a Hollywood novel that could top Nathanael West's "The Day of the Locust" could be written, it would be interesting.

I personally don't think it can be done--the only thing that outranks that novel are the true stories of those stars such as Frances Farmer, Jean Harlow and Judy Garland, in West's day, and later Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Jim Morrison.

West's book is so visionary and most others seem trite and banal in comparison to it. It's "The Heart of Darkness" of Hollywood novels.

ALEX MORGAN, LOS ANGELES

All right, so reviewer David Ehrenstein doesn't care all so much for John Gregory Dunne's novel "Playland." But to mention F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Last Tycoon," Budd Schulberg's "What Makes Sammy Run?" and Nathanael West's "Day of the Locust" and omit richly deserved mention for Joan Didion (Dunne's wife) and her great, spare, elliptical novel "Play It as It Lays" does the review reader who may be unaware of this artwork a disservice. It is "The Grapes of Wrath" of Hollywood novels.

LEN MACALUSO, LOS ANGELES

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