RARA-AVIS: Re: Ellroy

From: Mark Sullivan ( AnonymeInc@webtv.net)
Date: 04 Jan 2000

I used to be a huge Ellroy fan, picked up his original paperbacks and have read him in order. I prefer the Lloyd Hopkins books, but I can see why fans rave about the LA Quartet. I like those a lot, too. I particularly like that none of his characters are purely good or purely evil (with the possible exception of Dudley), that they are all morally complex. I even liked it when he began his scat-writing with White Jazz. So my growing problem with Ellroy doesn't seem to fall along the lines of most of his other detractors.

Basically, I have become bored with him and his schtick. Of course, this is most apparent in his public persona, but it increasingly saturates the books. I made it through American Tabloid, just barely, on the wave of his writing style, definitely not the content; it begs comparison with DeLillo's Libra, but doesn't come close. In addition, I am wary of Ellroy's revisionist history. Plus I am increasingly convinced he sets his books in the past so he can explain away obnoxious racial and sexual views by glibly stating, It was the times. Well, who chose to repeatedly set his books in those times? Finally, that writing style that was so refreshing in White Jazz has gotten stale, is now mere style, no longer so tied to content.

And then there's My Dark Places. Don't get me wrong, I found the book fascinating, but mostly for its attempt to reconstruct an old crime. I certainly feel for Ellroy's losing his mother that way, but I'm getting tired of hearing about it if he's not going to add anything new. There is no reason at all why he should be expected to confront his private feelings in public, except that's what he's promised. The book offers no more incite than the GQ article on the subject or half of his interviews.

I'm really not sure if I'm going to bother with his next book.

As for Vicki Henderson, loved Miami Purity, but I haven't read Iguana Love.


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