Dolly & Zane Grey: Letters From a Marriage (Nonfiction)

Edited by Candace C. Kant, University of Nevada Press, $34.95, Hardcover.
Edited by Candace C. Kant, University of Nevada Press, $34.95, Hardcover.

Zane Grey was the most important Western novelist, writing the best-selling Riders of the Purple Sage (1912). Candace Kant has done a scholarly, first-rate job of interpreting almost 40 years of correspondence between Grey and his wife Dolly. But reading—and enjoying—anybody’s letters is definitely an acquired taste, like that for the Greek wine Retsina. Repetitious salutations and familial chit-chat join fragmented sentences and paragraphs, yet these letters document Grey’s secret, double life. Although he wrote highly moral, uplifting stories, Grey was not a prude, but rather the very opposite—a secret, constant and flagrant philanderer. As his editor and business manager, Dolly turned a blind eye to his adultery because of her exaggerated respect for his talent. She considered it genius, and so she kept his secret. Grey conned her into believing that he needed the extra-marital liaisons to tap into the personal passion necessary to write his melodramatic yarns. Kant’s connective summations and interpretations are just as interesting as the often bickering letters.

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