Re: RARA-AVIS: Ellroy

a.n.smith (
Fri, 31 Dec 1999 17:31:48 -0600

On Ellroy:
> > author whose total contribution to the genre was to point out, by
> > its failures.

The more I think about it, this is an interesting line. I know it's said from the point of view of someone who doesn't like the guy, but I can say the same thing as a fan. We read in the early work that JE did work in the more conventional way with characters and dialogue before. And it was effective, as we see from the collective admiration for Black Dahlia. But the conscious decision afterward to write differently, to "scat sing" the prose, to write sentences that are purposefully bad from a craft point of view, bad dialogue, little to no description of the physical world, yeah, he's failing by example. But I believe it takes people like him to shake up the way we put words together on paper so that our attention is gotten. I think it's innovative.

Of course, for those opposed, Jackson Pollock just spilled paint on the floor, too.

Neil Smith

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