Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: are authors the best judge of their work?

From: Patrick King (
Date: 29 Nov 2009

  • Next message: trentrey: "RARA-AVIS: Re: are authors the best judge of their work?"

    I'm astonished Ellroy said what he said about The Cold Six Thousand. I liked it on first read (after adjusting to the style) and on a second read concluded that it was almost the equal of American Tabloid, which is about as high a praise as I can give a novel. It's much better than Blood's a Rover.


    Interesting comment. I prefer BLOOD'S A ROVER over COLD SIX THOUSAND. COLD SIX is a stunning, cynical novel. Three men are born into extremist belief systems, all smart enough to see through the rhetoric. Each, however, finds their paths set out for them and not one of them can make a decision to avoid what seems their ultimate destiny. Tedrow is the smartest of the 3, and most aware of what he's moving toward. But he's completely unaware of the real reason he's been sent to Dallas in November 1963. At the last minute he declines to do the job he's been hired to do and that righteous decision seals the fate of his wife, and his own destiny. COLD SIX is a sad, angry story, the powerful use of declarative sentences creating an immediacy like a picture painted with a pallet knife. It doesn't so much end and stop from exhaustion.

    BLOOD'S A ROVER, on the other hand, is full of amusing irony making it much more engaging and fun to read. The evolution of Don Crutchfield has got to be one of the most interestingly developed characters in modern literature. A kid gets popped for voyeurism, bailed out of jail by his buddy's father who's a PI, and told, "If you're gonna peep, I'll pay you to peep," and so he's employed as a PI, himself. I can just see this kid running around in 1966 wearing a crew cut and a bow tie and trying to be inconspicuous. But he has an innate talent for the work. All the experts from the previous novel encounter him and hate him. Tedrow puts a hit on him, but the hit man finds Crutch too useful to kill... yet. All three men are searching for the mysterious Joan Kline, all for different reasons, and she encounters each of them, changing their objectives through the power of her personality. The sinister armored car heist in the first chapter spins through the
     whole book and I kept wondering about the significance of the emeralds. I thought the end was a hoot. Who knows? Some things are historically verifiable, others the work of Ellroy's tortured imagination. Certainly Crutchfield bares more than a passing resemblance to the youthful Ellroy. I thought Marsh Bowen, a gay undercover cop masquerading as a black revolutionary, was one of the most interesting characters to come right out of this novel. His nemesis Scotty is also a great villain (and hero to young Crutchfield). I loved Scott's death. I don't think anyone has breathed life into J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon or Howard Hughes like Ellroy does in this book. Even the films, Nixon, Frost/Nixon, or The Aviator offer only two dimensional versions of these characters. In a few short scenes, Ellroy, correctly or not, who's to say? gives these guys prejudices, vices, intelligence and cunning evident in their historic acts but never really visible in their
     public personalities.

    I thought it was a great book. I'm going to read it again.

    Patrick King


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