Re: RARA-AVIS: Ellroy's L.A. Quartet

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 07 Feb 2006

At 07:09 PM 07/02/2006 -0500, you wrote:

>Actually, it was Six Thousand. :)

Right. And I'll try reading it again, sometime. But...

>So to use the Jazz style for something as convoluted and wide-ranging as Six
>Thousand and Tabloid...something is going to be lost. I did like those
>books, but I think it was a reviewer for the Times who noted something to
>the effect that it looked like Ellroy just submitted his outline to the
>publisher (or something like that).

Well, the style has changed by the time we get to Cool Six Thousand, and the narrative suffers for it. It doesn't move along as quickly, as I recall. The sentences shorter, THEY move, but the story does not keep pace.

I liked the tabloid style too, though I remember it from L.A. Confidential. I'm not sure that I've read American Tabloid, so it may have faltered by then, but my point is that Ellroy was experimenting with different forms, not just one. I think White Jazz may have succeeded, and the others less so, because the inspiration was musical, not literary. The sensational,
"journalistic" style had been done before and was already schtick when Ellroy got to it. Not that he failed to make it work entirely, but the challenge is similar to writing mid-century hardboil now without it sounding like parody, at least to those familiar with the form. Every time it's done, it gets tougher.

But you know, one thing I don't think gets enough consideration when we discuss books and literature, is the mood of the reader, not to mention that readers develop as much as characters do. Next time I have a go, it may be the Cool Ten Thousand.

Best, Kerry

------------------------------------------------------ Literary events Calendar (South Ont.) The evil men do lives after them

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