RE: RARA-AVIS: Thoughts on James Ellroy

John & Carrie (
Fri, 17 Sep 1999 01:17:50 -0400


<<I put down Jim Thompson's book "The Killer Inside Me." I just thought it was shit. I honestly think that most noir is cliche.>>

Mario wrote:

And I would say that the outrageous Ellroy interview is also a cliché® The sad thing is that Ellroy has interesting ideas about the genre -- yet he talks in simplistic terms ("it was shit" is unworthy of a writer of his stature and talent).

Perhaps Ellroy should read John D. MacDonald's comments on Norbert Davis (that he made a bad mistake in despising the genre that nurtured him, in thinking that he had transcended it and gone on to better things, etc.).


I share Mario's thoughts on this. It is bullshit, not to mention snobbish, when someone with obvious gifts turns on the source that allowed the person to hone his or her skills, and believe that he or she is above it.

In the first instance, aside from the monstrous egoism, that something is somehow of lesser value or importance because of it's status as "low brow culture" is simply untenable in this day when the boundaries between high and low culture are so blurred as to be non-existent. Whether or not one subscribes to any of these notions that can be categorized generally under the rubric of postmodernism, the fact is that the notion of "genre" is soemthing that we simply keep alive as an arbitrary, albeit useful, method of categorizing things.

Second, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth to see Ellroy's spitefulness. Now, this may all be part of his schtick....but in the absence of any guidelines to determine whether he's serious or not, I find it arrogant. Especially when he disses Thompson. Hell, if Thompson had the luxury of being allowed the time and resources to work more in depth at his craft who knows what he could have done. and even within those limitations....Thompson is a much better more interesting writer than Ellroy, notwithstanding that I enjoy Ellroy's writing a hell of a lot.

Just ranting.......


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