Michael Sauter
May 21, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Shut Up He Explained

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Kate Lardner
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it a B

As the daughter of Oscar-winning screenwriter Ring Lardner Jr. — and granddaughter of all-purpose man of letters Ring Sr. — Kate Lardner probably would have had a good story even if her dad hadn’t been one of the famed ”Hollywood Ten” and jailed in 1950 during the notorious HUAC hearings. She recalls his incarcerated year (and the almost-as-difficult blacklist aftermath) with a nimble crosscutting of personal memories and reproduced letters. Her own recollections are sketchy, but the letters reveal the courageously cheerful way her parents coped, lingering over such matters as Christmas gifts or a new car. To read between the lines of her father’s jaunty missives is to discover a refined, bittersweet sense of irony.

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