In response to:
Hollywood: Having Fun from the March 22, 1973 issue
To the Editors:
The heading on Joan Didion’s article [NYR, March 22] indicates that she is reviewing my book Figures of Light. In the course of her piece, she makes some adverse comments about me, quoting nine phrases. Four of those phrases come from a different book of mine, and one of them is quoted incompletely. (I said that Huston is a talent “corrupted—not implemented—by success,” somewhat different from the “corrupted by success” that she makes it.)
Figures of Light was published in 1971. Why this belated attention? A possible reason: In the December 9, 1972, issue of The New Republic, I reviewed Miss Didion’s film Play It As It Lays, referred to her novel of that name, and stated my utter loathing of both. (On much the same grounds that she substantiates in her article: the film pretended to deal with serious subjects but was patently an industry product.) Perhaps Miss Didion would dislike my writing just as much if I had praised her work. I hope so. But your readers might care to know about a possible tit for tat.
New York City
Joan Didion replies:
Let me assure Mr. Kauffmann that if he had praised my work, I would dislike his writing “just as much,” and would also have some doubts about my own. Actually I thought I was doing him a small kindness by leaving out the “implemented” but it is his word and he is welcome to it.
April 19, 1973