RARA-AVIS: Ellroy's early books

From: Juri Nummelin ( juri.nummelin@pp.inet.fi)
Date: 05 May 2008


> I remember Otto Penzler once discussing at a conference how much
> editing his first (and arguably best) books needed.

I've just been reading his early books and am really wondering about your statement. I remember thinking that books like BLOOD ON THE MOON and BECAUSE THE NIGHT were overthought, overwritten, implausible and stretched. Plus the narrative drive I find so admirable in, say, THE BIG NOWHERE, is nowhere in sight. Especially BLOOD ON THE MOON seemed almost ridiculous at times.

Okay, those are not his first books. CLANDESTINE is pretty much okay, but it lacks pacing. The scene with Dudley Smith in the middle of the book is way too long, and there's almost a parody of American gothic near the end of the book. BROWN'S REQUIEM is a pretty standard PI book, even though it has its dark edges, too.

I should say that Ellroy's peak is the LA Quartet. I liked AMERICAN TABLOID, but haven't read THE COLD SIX THOUSAND as yet.

And yes, he seems an irritating public person. He was guest-blogging at the otherwise very fine Rap Sheet site some months back. He didn't say anything interesting, just went on about how he's great. But that shouldn't diminish his real efforts. Don't judge the artist by his mistakes, but by his victories. (Or something to that effect. I think it was Octavio Paz who said it.)


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