Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: New James Ellroy

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 16 Oct 2004

Jim Beaver wrote:

> > Anyone on the list read THE TICKET OUT by Helen Knode, aka Mrs. Ellroy?
> > thought it was terrific, a great L.A. crime story set against the
> > of the movie business. She shares a number of her husband's obsessions.
> All I know of Ms. Knode is that she was once theatre critic for the L.A.
> Weekly, and that she once showed up to review a play of mine. The play
> part of a special program and as such, the performance she reviewed began
> 6 p.m. I was standing near the boxoffice when she arrived to pick up her
> complimentary ticket. She said to the boxoffice attendant, "Who's the
> who decided six o'clock was a good time to start a play? This had better
> damned good." She then used her review to trash the performance time and
> condemn the play because a character in it had the temerity, in passing,
> suggest that Thomas Jefferson was something greater than the "slaveholding
> racist" Ms. Knode believed him to be. It didn't keep the play from
> several awards, but it will probably keep me from buying Ms. Knode's book.
> Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Nice to see that they're a matched pair with regard to their relative levels of inate charm, Jim. A friend of mine here in Seattle used to work for the University Bookstore, and helped schedule readings by authors as they came through town. University Bookstore is a pretty big venue and can mean a lot of exposure for authors when they give a reading there. As such, it's an unwritten rule there that if an author is nice to the staff, or even just basically polite, that author will get a plug from the staff when they're making suggestions to customers, whether the staff member has read the work of the author in question or not.

Ellroy came through town a few years back, gave a reading, and was on no one's suggested reading list afterward. The words "primadonna," and
"posturing jerk" were on all of the staff's lips though. I went to the reading in question, too, and I have to tell you, I've never seen him interviewed before or since (read a couple though), and on the day I saw him
(and perhaps he was having an off day), he demonstrated all of the warmth of a deep freeze and all the charm of a gila monster.

It's coincidental in my case that at the time I was beginning to sour on his books as they began to get more overblown, more sensational, less gritty, more focused on muck and mire and less focused on delivering a good narrative with well-developed characters. Don't get me wrong, many people like Ellroy's work. As has been discussed ad inifintum on this list, I'm just not one of them.

Your Mileage May Vary-

Brian Thornton

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 16 Oct 2004 EDT