RARA-AVIS: Re: New James Ellroy

From: Vince Keenan ( vpkeenan@hotmail.com)
Date: 15 Oct 2004

I plan on picking up a copy of Ellroy's DESTINATION: MORGUE! when he's in town later this month, because he's always a hoot in person. I'll do it even though I think his style is ill-suited to the short form, whether fiction or non-fiction. CRIME WAVE, his last anthology, didn't bowl me over, although I love the inscription he wrote ("Blood! Creep!"). I just read his short story
"Torch Number," which leads off the Barnes & Noble anthology PULP FICTIONS, and it seemed like the outline for a much longer work. Which is how I feel about most of his short stories.

As for the L.A. Quartet, I've read each book more than once and have enjoyed them all. DAHLIA and WHITE JAZZ strike me as the strongest, perhaps because they're written in the first person. It's interesting that he ends the series with the most lean and focused of the books, one that concentrates on a single character while still bringing the Exley/Smith storyline to a close. It always amazes me that people complain about the film version of L.A. CONFIDENTIAL being hard to follow, when only a fraction of the book was used.

AMERICAN TABLOID is easily Ellroy's greatest work, but it reminds me of what Ellroy himself has said about Thomas Harris' accomplishment with RED DRAGON
-- he essentially invented and perfected a genre with one book. THE COLD SIX THOUSAND seemed to be repeating many of its predecessor's moves.

I've heard that HBO is planning on giving TABLOID the ANGELS IN AMERICA treatment: a full six-hour miniseries. That would be the only way to get a story with that kind of scope on screen.

Anyone on the list read THE TICKET OUT by Helen Knode, aka Mrs. Ellroy? I thought it was terrific, a great L.A. crime story set against the backdrop of the movie business. She shares a number of her husband's obsessions.

Vince Keenan

www.vincekeenan.com Pop culture, high and low, past and present. One day at a time.

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