James Ellroy

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I'm halfway through "White Jazz," by James Ellroy. It's the fourth book by him I've read this summer (after "Clandestine," "L.A. Confidential," and "Killer on the Road"). They've all been pretty seriously nuts, and I suspect he is, too.

The two L.A. Quartet novels are among the best contemporary crime fiction I've read -- frenetic, paranoid, obsessive, wildly imaginative even while they cover the same basic themes.

I think I find him interesting, in part, because he's writing straight pulp, as opposed to a pastiche, or "literary fiction" based on old pulp forms. (I don't really have a satisfying definition of pulp that I'm working with, but if I did Ellroy would be in it.)

Any thoughts?

mte, Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:17 (nineteen years ago) link

I just read his contribution to the Best American Crime Writing 2004, "Stephanie." Pretty cool stuff. He's a freak for murder.

Huck, Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:55 (nineteen years ago) link

If you can track down Yanc3y, who posts on ILM occasionally, he could tell you a lot. He was in charge of driving Ellroy around when he came to guest-teach a class at our college and had some good stories.

eat fudge banana swirl (Nick A.), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 19:15 (nineteen years ago) link

Really? Wow. I've read a lot of his books, but I'm not sure I'd like to hang around with him. I read the one about his mother's murder, which seems to explain a lot about why he's completely bats, but it wasn't that interesting.

I'm beginning to find his deep cynicism pretty wearing, but would still recommend American Tabloid to anyone looking for a good conspiracy.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 20:28 (nineteen years ago) link

I'd like to hear those Yanc3y stories.

mte, Tuesday, 17 August 2004 20:54 (nineteen years ago) link

I've really enjoyed-to-loved Ellroy's novels, except for "Killer on the Road", which I thought was complete shit.

Gear! (Gear!), Wednesday, 18 August 2004 02:19 (nineteen years ago) link

I adored 'American Tabloid' but found 'The Cold Six Thousand' a bit of a disappointing follow-up - I think the extreme terseness of the language started interfering with the characterisation.

Mog, Wednesday, 18 August 2004 08:35 (nineteen years ago) link

"Killer on the Road" was silly and more than a little distasteful. But I still couldn't put it down.

mte, Wednesday, 18 August 2004 19:43 (nineteen years ago) link

They've all been pretty seriously nuts, and I suspect he is, too.

haha! you really need to read 'my dark places' then, the first half is autobiographical - breaking into girls houses to sniff their panties, speed & alcohol, homelessness - its a miracle he survived.
yanc3y, tell stories now!

zappi (joni), Thursday, 19 August 2004 23:03 (nineteen years ago) link

i have an extra copy of my dark places if anyone wants one

kyle (akmonday), Friday, 20 August 2004 22:41 (nineteen years ago) link

he's the kind of guy who says "fuck" and "bullshit" a lot, often to provoke people

mookieproof (mookieproof), Monday, 23 August 2004 19:18 (nineteen years ago) link

i find his detective fiction as close to genius as these things come, brilliant, crysdtyaline, dark and sexy-- and written in a way that encourages a push and pull, a sort of stripped down hot rod careening.

the cold 6k is a seceret history of america, using the same sort of style and i think that it fails, its good and interesting, but the style and the content chafe. (maybe im wrong?)

anyways read the black dahila

anthony, Monday, 23 August 2004 22:01 (nineteen years ago) link

I think Mog really summed it up for The Cold Six Thousand. I couldn't put my finger on what I disliked about it, but that's it. Which is a shame, because the story is really interesting. Ah well.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Tuesday, 24 August 2004 06:45 (nineteen years ago) link

I started with Ellroy's The Cold Six Thousand and while I admired his skill with dialogue and descriptions, the story left me feeling a bit blah and not impressed. But a year or so ago I read his My Dark Places and came away from that with a much better appreciation for the writer and for his chosen subject matter. But I've not gone back to any of his other fiction, so I cannot comment any further along those lines (would someone point me toward something by him that would suck me in?).

I'm Passing Open Windows (Ms Laura), Tuesday, 24 August 2004 09:31 (nineteen years ago) link

two years pass...
i saw him read from "the black dahlia" last night here in l.a., but he spent most of the time answering questions and giving mock-egotistical answers ("beethoven called himself 'the german ellroy'!", "each novel i write is better than my previous, so my next novel will be my greatest, until the one after that!"). he said he plans to write six more novels, long and intricate ones, and after the conclusion to his 'underworld u.s.a.' trilogy (his next novel arriving in two years), he'll go back and take on another time in american history.

he also said, in no uncertain terms, that as of december 1st he'll never again discuss his mother's death or the black dahlia in public or in interviews or in his own work again.

gear (gear), Monday, 11 September 2006 21:32 (seventeen years ago) link

Um, was the reading, perchance, being recorded by folks from C0urt-TV?

I'm Passing Open Windows (Ms Laura), Tuesday, 12 September 2006 05:14 (seventeen years ago) link

he also said, in no uncertain terms, that as of december 1st he'll never again discuss his mother's death or the black dahlia in public or in interviews or in his own work again.

Unless Brian de Palma offers him yet more money to do so. That film does not look good.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Tuesday, 12 September 2006 05:38 (seventeen years ago) link

it doesn't??

Josh (Josh), Tuesday, 12 September 2006 06:12 (seventeen years ago) link

i think it looks fucking awesome

anthony easton (anthony), Tuesday, 12 September 2006 09:33 (seventeen years ago) link

The only publicity photo I saw wasn't grubby enough for film noir. All the actors looked scrubbed and perky and dressed to the nines, as if they were ready to go to the ice cream parlor.

Aimless (Aimless), Tuesday, 12 September 2006 13:34 (seventeen years ago) link

josh hartnett really looks wrong for every role i've ever seen him in. maybe he's the right age and build for bucky, whatever. dude's a charisma black hole.

gear (gear), Tuesday, 12 September 2006 17:02 (seventeen years ago) link

The only publicity photo I saw wasn't grubby enough for film noir.

Let's start a flame war about whether this is film noir or not. (It isn't, of course, despite what everyone says.)

Still, the film looks beautiful and will probably make me read the book. I was never an Ellroy fan. Dunno why really. At the time it just seemed so... unfriendly towards women. *sigh*

Nathalie (stevie nixed), Wednesday, 13 September 2006 07:37 (seventeen years ago) link

three months pass...
for Jams and others re his politics... nothing flat-out racist here, but I don't like the smell of his Rodney King "blown out of proportion" shit, and if he was a fan of Ken Starr I really don't need to be reading epic-length apologias for brutal cops by such a man:


Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 11 January 2007 20:33 (seventeen years ago) link

I said there was a rabble out there: abortion-clinic bombers, anti-capitalist paint-throwers, the Klan, the militias, militant homosexuals. I said these people had to be impeded, interdicted and suppressed in order to maintain a lawful society.


milo z (mlp), Thursday, 11 January 2007 20:48 (seventeen years ago) link

I could forgive him being a cranky old fascist (enough to read him) if I found his writing more interesting. I read White Jazz, it was OK I guess, but the other three I wound up with keep getting pushed further down the list.

milo z (mlp), Thursday, 11 January 2007 20:50 (seventeen years ago) link

A gifted, unique and terrifyingly fucked-up writer. I respect him mainly for the L.A. Trilogy. If you're new to his work, starting anywhere else is a mistake.

The idea that he might be a racist (or a fascist, or whatever) doesn't surprise me in the least. His worldview seems entirely based on cynical misanthropy, delusional self-aggrandizement, a desire to offend people, and a near-paranoid distrust of everything that isn't James Ellroy.

No matter. His best work is beyond reproach.

Adam Beales (Pye Poudre), Thursday, 11 January 2007 21:20 (seventeen years ago) link

i'd forgotten a.e. used to post here. did he leave due to registration becoming necessary?

tom west (thomp), Thursday, 11 January 2007 21:35 (seventeen years ago) link

being a misanthrope is one thing, but at least hate EVERYBODY.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 11 January 2007 22:21 (seventeen years ago) link

I think he still checks in sometimes. On the sandbox he had a completely different login name. xpost

Casuistry (Chris P), Thursday, 11 January 2007 22:24 (seventeen years ago) link

Ellroy is one of the best crime fic guys of the century; up there with Hammett and Chandler and Queen and the rest of them. As for him being a racist? It wouldn't surprise me--the guy wrote a glowing blurb for Bill O'Reilly's first book.

max (maxreax), Thursday, 11 January 2007 23:32 (seventeen years ago) link

just read american tabloid, sort of petered out towards the end, kind of dull really...and really quite butch, butch for the sake of butch

pinkmoose (jacklove), Friday, 12 January 2007 15:17 (seventeen years ago) link

I still fucking love The Cold Six Thousand.

franny (frannyglass), Friday, 12 January 2007 15:48 (seventeen years ago) link

i would love to see a film adaptation of 'the big nowhere', with someone like matt damon playing danny (and no changes to the fates of the characters).

‘•’u (gear), Friday, 12 January 2007 18:20 (seventeen years ago) link

two years pass...

Funny interview video for his new novel.

Squash weather (Eazy), Thursday, 17 September 2009 13:59 (fourteen years ago) link

four years pass...

Still out there: http://m.shortlist.com/entertainment/books/james-ellroy

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 20 February 2014 23:57 (ten years ago) link

he also said, in no uncertain terms, that as of december 1st he'll never again discuss his mother's death or the black dahlia in public or in interviews or in his own work again.

― gear (gear)

or maybe not

christmas candy bar (al leong), Friday, 21 February 2014 00:47 (ten years ago) link

He sounds like an asshole from that interview (im sure a lot of it is down to being provocative), but anyone who writes "American Tabloid" gets a free pass from me.

everyday sheeple (Michael B), Friday, 21 February 2014 00:50 (ten years ago) link

He's always sounded like that

How dare you tarnish the reputation of Turturro's yodel (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 21 February 2014 02:36 (ten years ago) link

seven months pass...

did anyone here read perfidia? i think it's definitely a top-five work of his, probably #5 (after blood's a rover, american tabloid, L.A. confidential and my dark places)

slothroprhymes, Tuesday, 14 October 2014 17:30 (nine years ago) link

seven years pass...

New interview with Ellroy on the debut of his podcast (he's living in Denver now). Intrigued by the full-out audio version of American Tabloid, but dunno if I can take 12+ hours of his voice jackhammering into my head.

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 11 July 2022 07:30 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

i just picked up the new one, The Enchanters, from the library — hoping its a good read

werewolves of laudanum (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 10 January 2024 06:37 (one month ago) link

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