On Elia Kazan’s East of Eden and the Revelation That Was James Dean: for Library of America

Recently, I wrote a small piece which could be given a High School English class title: What James Dean and East of Eden meant to me. When I wrote it, I was deep in research for a huge piece which finally went live. It’s for the new film site, part of The Library of America, The Moviegoer. It’s been up for a year and already has an impressive archive, written by an illustrious roster of writers. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be included in such company. (Also, the Library of America! I mean, look at this bookshelf of mine.) The idea is: writers write about film adaptations of books in the Library of America catalog. When the editor, Michael Sragow, reached out to me, he asked for a bunch of pitches, books I was interested in covering. I went through the catalog, and picked out a bunch of possibilities. He immediately asked me to write about East of Eden. The thought of my personal history with that film made his choice so exciting, so daunting to me. Bonus was that, unbelievably, I had never written about the film before in any in-depth way. Probably BECAUSE the history is so personal. Now, finally, I got the chance.

Here’s the essay:

Unforgettable lonely boy James Dean carries East of Eden on his narrow shoulders

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