Re: RARA-AVIS: Sorry, more Ellroy

From: Patrick King (
Date: 19 Dec 2007

--- wrote:

> Possibly not Patrick. I know a lot of people on here
> really don't like where
> Ellroy has gone but I'm a sucker for his style of
> riffs and repetitions,
> aliteration and so on. And, as far as I'm aware it's
> totally original - I'd love
> to know if he got it from somewhere else or if
> others have used it, I've
> mentioned the British writer David Peace as someone
> who took a lead from it -
> and when it works it really is gripping and
> extraordinary. I think he lost the
> plot a little at times in 6,000, which I also think
> is overlong, and I wonder
> how long and how succesfully he can continue before
> going down a blind alley
> or up somewhere else, or if he'll revert to a more
> traditional style, but
> when it works... nothing better. Love it!
****************************************************** I agree with you. I think it's brilliant, James Joyce meets Gene Kurpa. It reads almost like poetry. The bigger problem for me with Ellroy is the repetition of themes in his stories, rather than his prose cadence. But to me even those themes are fascinating. He and I have a lot in common. We are almost the same age and we went through many of the same experiences save that my mother wasn't murdered but died at the age of 92. The murder of his mother made him who he is, and as his ex-wife says, "It's not that big a joke." A lot of the rhythmic genius of his writing may have something to do with those inhalers he swallowed in the bad old days. But whatever, it certainly makes him an outstanding practioner of the art.

I've read David Peace, and to my mind he isn't even close to Ellroy's league. Peace feels to me as though he's writing by the seat of his pants with no idea where the thing is going to go. I'm occasionally disappointed in the resolutions Ellroy tacks on to his stories, but Peace's resolutions don't even make logical sense. Then there's the amount of punishment Peace's characters take and yet are still fetchingly attractive to women, strains my credibility. Sure, Mike Hammer has a similar allure. But Hammer gave as good as he got. Peace's characters can seldom fight back. They're beaten so their mother's don't recognize them and yet 16-year-old girls invite them for sex! He's somewhat reminiscent of the early Lehane novels in which Patrick Kenzie was so insecure he had to be followed around by a wookie named Bubba to do his dirty work. I never understood what Bubba was paid. He just liked killing people so he set up a snipers nest on the top of Jordan Marsh whenever Kenzie needed him too. Where can I find help like that?

In my estimation, Ellroy is a rung below Elmore Leonard in the annals of living crime fiction writers. Leonard's only equals are Ed McBain/Evan Hunter, Ruth Rendall, and Maj Sjl & Per WahlTo my mind, that's crime fiction royalty. As far as I know, Rendall is the only one still working, and McBain, of course, is dead.

But Ellroy is a classic and if he staves off madness, he'll stand the whole world on its ear sometime soon, not just us noir nuts.

Patrick King

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