Books: Incaution on A Grand Scale ELIA KAZAN: A LIFE

by Elia Kazan; Knopf; 848 pages; $24.95

"I imagine that, from time to time, you've thought my book unfair, ugly, and hateful," writes Elia Kazan, 78, toward the end of this bustling, bruising autobiography. "Here and there it is vulgar too." Well, er, yes, now that you mention it . . .

By this time, though, it is too late to cop a simple, honesty-is-the-best- pol icy plea for the work. Those who wholeheartedly agree with the author's self-review will have long since slipped out of the auditorium muttering to themselves. For those still glued to their chairs, a corollary to an old adage will probably have occurred:...

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