Re: RARA-AVIS: Ellroy reviewd at Salon

From: Juri Nummelin (
Date: 14 Jun 2001

On Wed, 13 Jun 2001, Mark Sullivan wrote:

> I'm with Bill C, the excerpts don't make me want to read the book,
> either.

I'll wait for the translation.

> So a book about crime is not crime fiction simply because it's longer?

It seems that the reviewer (and maybe Ellroy, too) puts up the wall between high and low literature. Maybe that is unconscious, but that seems to be what's happening right now. First the postmodern tore the wall down, then some guys try to put it up again. And therefore the reviewer (and, again, maybe Ellroy, too) must have some excuses for labeling "Tabloid" and "Six Cold Thousand" "just" fiction and not crime fiction, because crime fiction is low literature. This is what Chandler complained about - that when is talked about in the US, he's called just a crime novelist, while in Britain he's called a novelist. But that was fourty years ago!

> "Fans of crime thrillers would have complained that "American Tabloid"
> was nearly as impenetrable as "Ulysses" -- that is, if fans of crime
> thrillers had known what "Ulysses" is.
> I find this incredibly insulting even though I never got very far in
> Ullysses (even when it was assigned reading) and never attempted
> Finnegans Wake.

Again, the reviewer seems to think that the "fans of crime thrillers" are only readers of low literature and therefore cannot know anything about high literature. He seems to be a guardian of taste. (Isn't it peculiar that Ellroy now suddenly represents taste and good one too?)

> ""Fuck being a crime novelist when you can be a flat-out great
> novelist," he once told me --"
> They're mutually exclusive?

Of course they are. The reviewer - who now seems to be an idiot - is again putting up the wall between high and low.

> Again, how is American Tabloid not a crime novel. Sure, it's not a
> mystery, but how is it not a thriller?

Because the ending was common knowledge?


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