RARA-AVIS: Re: Ellroy

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 22 Dec 2001

First off, can someone explain the relationship among the LA Quartet books to me? It seems that they are not direct sequels to each other with the same main characters, so what is the connection and what order should they be read in.

Neil Smith wrote

>Having seen several posts similar to this so far, I have to ask--What
>exactly is the trouble with "style" here?

well, I originally called his prose "stylized" which was maybe not the best word choice but which I distinguish from "written with style." I guess
"stilted" or "artificial" is closer to what I mean. I read one Ellroy book a number of years ago so I can't remember exactly what it was that bothered me about the prose style, but I vaguely remember a lot of sentence fragments and the like. Nothing wrong with this per se (jazz-flavored prose works great for me in Ralph Ellison, Colson Whitehead, etc) but the way Ellroy used it got old for me. I guess my general rule on style is that it needs to work with the story rather than against the story; for me, style that illuminates is good, style that obscures is bad. And ultimately a lot of this is going to come down to taste. Your jazz-influenced linguistic games are my distracting word play.

I also wasn't crazy about the way characters sort of popped in and out - he spends a lot of time developing characters who are never heard from again or are despatched without ceremony. Ellroy certainly has gifts for characterization, but he seems to use them haphazardly.


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