RARA-AVIS: Ellroy's __White Jazz__, a hard read

From: Jay Gertzman ( jgertzma@earthlink.net)
Date: 11 Jul 2004

James Ellroy's _White Jazz_ seems to me to bog down in its own plot. The explanations necessary near the end in order to unravel the intricacies of the Kafesian-Dudley Smith-Herrick cabal make for a static end. Although the narrator Dave Klein is fascinating and as tough (and tough minded) as they come, even he seems to be frozen in d鮯uement. Aren't there at least one too many historical references: Dragna, Harry Cohn, Mickey Cohen, Howard Hughes, Sam Giancana, Vampira even?

I also wonder why Klein sees Ed Exley as "evil". He is as devious and as much a user as Dudley Smith, but he seems to be motivated not be sinister self-aggrandisement (unless political ambition is per se evil) by a desire to destroy the arch villain Dudley (he has political ambitions of course). What did I miss?

Klein's desire to go back to LA and deliver retribution so many years later is fascinating. He says he wants to "eclipse" his guilt, not expiate it. He's not capable of anything else. He wants to recapture his lost youth?? to be the man he once was, and also get his long nurtured crush on Glenda resolved at last. Kind of funny, since sitcom-famous Glenda is now well settled in as a national icon of some kind--maybe Mary Tyler Moore is who Ellroy has in mind? Maybe Klein, after all, is addicted to his own compulsions, the same basic kind that define his enemies.

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