Re: RARA-AVIS: Recent read: American Tabloid (Spoiler)

Date: 11 Dec 2007

  In a message dated 05/12/2007 17:40:28 GMT Standard Time, writes: Mark wrote (who has one of the finest of all email addresses in all cyberspace).

I had the opposite reaction to American Tabloid. It led me to swear off Ellroy, of whom I had once been a huge fan, turning all of my friends on to him. In my mind Ellroy's writing became schtick in this book, a caricature of his style. And that caricature led me to believe for the first time that Ellroy sets his books in the past so he can have an excuse for spouting racist, misogynist and homophobic speech and say
"it's not me, it was the times"; for the first time, I felt it was him, as he spread the views too uniformly among characters, with little to no variation of viewpoint.

Also, I was far, far more satisfied with DeLillo's Libra, as far as historicl novels about the Kennedy assassination go

American Tabloid was the first Ellroy I read - I'm a very late comer to noir/hardboiled and before Ellroy I was a Sherlock Holmes and historical crime fiction man - so that may have some bearing on our divergence of views. It set me off on a rampage of Ellroy purchases, starting with the LA Quartet, in which I think he honed the style of Underworld USA but didn't quite have it right in White Jazz.

I've seen Ellroy speak, and he certainly has a schtick in person, although I found it a very entertaining one. You may have a point (by which I mean you may well be completely right) - I'm aware that he holds right wing views but not that he is racist, homophobic or misogynist... In fact I'd say he's a full on misanthrope to be honest. But in Tabloid Kemper Boyd ends up working for black civil rights and Ward Littell tries to protect communists from J Edgar Hoover. And, I don't really care, I still hold my views and Ellroy's
'history of bad men doing bad things' simply confirms a lot of what I - whose politics are more Hammett than Ellroy - thought about the way political power operates.

I just find the technical brilliance of the Tabloid style amazing, the rhythms are perfect to my internal ears, as is the dialogue... This doesn't mean I think the dialogue is realistic by the way - realism is over-rated in dia logue, having worked as a newspaper journalist for a number of years I found that most people don't speak coherent, let alone sparkling English.

I must read Delillo and I have a copy of the recently lated Mr Mailer's Oswald which sits staring, baleful and huge, on my shelf which ought to be dragged out.
  All the best to all the best
  Colin Join my Church:


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