RARA-AVIS: Ellroy Speaks

From: Frederick Zackel ( fzackel@wcnet.org)
Date: 30 Jul 2006


The Great Right Place: James Ellroy Comes Home July 30, 2006

Hometowns should offer the proper balance of safety and inspiration. I call inspiration a sense of danger contained. L.A. got too safe 25 years ago. I got out then. My life got too dangerous five years ago. I pondered safety zones for a long interval.

I learned that I'm only safe here....

L.A. bids pundits to spin epigrams. W.H. Auden called L.A. "The Great Wrong Place." I'll ascribe intent. Auden saw L.A. as a lodestone for opportunists and psychically maimed misfits. I sense this because I fall into both categories. Auden couched L.A. in a film-noir construction. Losers migrated here to start over and become someone else. L.A. was a magnet for lives in desperate duress. The sheer indifference of the place consumed the migrants and drove them mad. They succumbed to madness in a sexy locale. The place itself provided solace and recompense. They had the comfort of other arriviste losers. They entered the L.A. spiritus mundi. They handed out their head shots. They joined that unique L.A. casting call.

For picaresque grifters, dollar-driven D.A.s, well-hung gigolos, hollow-eyed strumpets, hophead jazz musicians, pervert cops, alcoholic private eyes, sadistic studio heads, laudanum-lapping layabouts, homosexual informants, religious quacks and an uncategorizable array of stupes with indefinable psychopathic mandates and plain inconsolable despair....

My wife and I divorced. My runner's ways killed the marriage. I've been blessed with forgiveness tempered with humor. A steel-buffed friendship remains. The film version of "The Black Dahlia" comes out in September. I'm writing the sequel to "The Cold Six Thousand." It will be my greatest novel yet. Opportunists enjoy bragging rights-if they deliver. I always have and always will.

It will be my last non-L.A. novel. From that point on, I'm a hometown writer exclusively.

I moved back to L.A. three weeks ago. It's the only place I feel safe. I've got a slick pad near my old prowling turf and an arriviste sports car. I want to live here, I want to work here, I want to end my days here. I want the all-new and wholly familiar stimulation that only L.A. provides. I want to reclaim L.A. with a revitalized and mature imagination.....

(And a whole lot more. Check out the LA Tomes West magazine this weekend. Read all about it.)

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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