Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Ellroy

From: Kerry Schooley (
Date: 21 Nov 2002

At 07:14 AM 21/11/2002 -0800, you wrote:
>I think he's pompous and pretentious and too often takes a little boy's
>delight in offending people and acting out. I also think, at his best,
>he's one hell of a writer. Unfortunately, so does he.

Yes, but it's so clearly schtick. I'm not sure we know where the ego ends and the performance begins. And I don't think it matters. The books are the books.

I have to admit I'm a bit surprised by the focus within RARA AVIS on Ellroy scat. I'd have thought we'd leave that for the rubes. Here we're fans of hard boil and we've defined that genre stylistically, for discussion purposes at least. Yet no one mentions how Ellroy takes the colloquial and wrenches it into high gear.

An entire novel written in a style that mimics derivative jazz. Followed by another that uses the tabloid press as point-of-view. The ideas alone are audacious. What's remarkable is that he carries them off, something that the movie L.A. Confidential doesn't quite manage. Ellroy has said that he lets the content of his novels determine the style. And his content comes from the heart of the 20th century.

Something like 150 million killed in the past century. Yet we prosper and keep counting. I can't think of another author who so effectively catches these amoral, hysterical times. I don't care if he is an asshole.


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