Re: RARA-AVIS: Ellroy's early books

From: Nathan Cain (
Date: 05 May 2008

I agree that the Lloyd Hopkins stuff was overwrought, and almost veered into parody at times. Ditto for Killer on the Road. I think he hit his peak with Nowhere and LA Confidential (whose plots mirror each other.), and then sort of went off the rails with White Jazz, which I haven't looked at in a long time, but I remember as almost unreadable.

On Mon, May 5, 2008 at 8:48 AM, Juri Nummelin <> wrote:
> Kevin:
> > 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.)
> Juri

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