RARA-AVIS: RE: Ellroy's "Cold Six Thousand"

From: Dick Lochte ( dlock@ix.netcom.com)
Date: 03 Apr 2001

Why is Ellroy's new novel being published in Europe before its May release in the US? There's usually only one reason: profit. Fiction sells well in summer, though if you're taking "Cold Six" on vacation, you'd better check the airlines' weight allowance. My guess is, Ellroy wanted to do the European tour first so that he could have an open end for his US promotion. The novel will probably do just as well as his last few in France and Italy. But if it's true that his sales in the U.S. have slipped, this one should restore Knopf's faith in him. It's a big, bold, nastier than hell take on events that shaped US history during the Sixties and Seventies. It's hot. And, surprise-surprise, it's coherent, in a feverish, paranoid sort of way. It should be a no-holds-barred bestseller.

As for any difficulty in translation, it's told in simple, declarative sentences, few of them longer than five or six words. For readers, if not translators, this may sound a bit wearying considering that it's a 700-plus page book, but, oddly enough, the effect is exhilarating. I liked Ellroy's early novels, but of late they've seemed a bit confused and, ah, overly complex. This one takes a clean straight path through a forest of criminal and political obfuscation, real and fantasized. Like Hammett tidying up after Ludlum.

Dick Lochte

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