Archive for the James Ellroy Category

James Ellroy: Brown’s Requiem

Posted in James Ellroy with tags , , , on October 6, 2011 by gustravis

There’s one scene in the Demon Dog’s first novel that will stick in my guts forever. When classical music junkie/private detective Fritz Brown goes down to Mexico to investigate his caddy/nazi/porn addict client, he encounters a group of post-hippies on the beach. He’s just come from a baptism of blood and a binge of booze. He eats dog with these long-haired free spirits and develops a crush on one big-bozoomed lady. She sees straight to peoples’ souls and knows he’s in trouble so she hangs with him in the sand. He wants to fuck but that’s not what she’s there for. She puts his face between her big fat tits and let’s him sleep and rest and recover between her breasts so that he can go back to L.A. and rid the world of some corrupt mother fuckers.

One thing Ellroy gets about pulp (and lots of writers don’t) is that there has to be a lady at the end; there is a light at the end of the tunnel with soft skin and a mouth to kiss. It doesn’t matter if the “him” of the story gets there or not. But it means shit if he’s not reaching for that destination.



The Last Line of a Pulp Novel

Posted in James Ellroy with tags , , , , on March 19, 2011 by gustravis

The last line of a novel, any kind, casts such a feeling over the entire length of the pages that came before it. After the pure pulp experience that was James Ellroy’s White Jazz, the last line sizzled, it sank into my blood-pumping bad heart.

“Love me fierce in danger.”

From the Mouth of the Son-of-a-Bitch

Posted in James Ellroy with tags on September 21, 2010 by gustravis

James Ellroy calls himself a lot of things: “the demon dog, the foul owl with the death growl, the white knight of the far right, and the slick trick with the donkey dick”, but for the purposes of this blog I’d like to refer to him from now on as the Son-of-a-Bitch.

From the mouth of the Son-of-a-Bitch:

“Crime fiction is bullshit.  I’m the greatest American writer of crime fiction and I’ll tell you that crime fiction is bullshit… Dashiell Hammett would tell you the same thing if he were alive.”
-Snatched from the commentary track off the new DVD for Don Siegel’s The Line-Up.

Well, one thing is for certain, Ellroy certainly is the greatest son-of-a-bitch writer alive.

James Ellroy: Clandestine

Posted in James Ellroy with tags , on July 11, 2010 by gustravis

“I know you’re a smart-mouth young cop.  I know that’s a roscoe and handcuffs under your sweater.  I know the kind of things you guys do that you think people don’t know about.  I know guys like you die hungry.”

Ellroy’s book promises something too perfect in its first pages.  Our narrator tells us about “the wonder”: a fascination with the depravity, the perversity of the streets.  He lets us know that this is the story of the “last season of his youth”, a rite of passage, where he learns that running alongside “hellishly driven lives in clandestine transit was the wonder–as well as my ultimate redemption”.  These pages promise something unusual: a sort of pulp novel that combines the “literary” quality and grasp of The Great Gatsby.

Like Ellroy himself, the novel isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  It slowly fades into a dense-plotted thriller that goes from serial killer yarn to family melodrama and ends with the kind of sappy touch that bares no resemblance to the stunning prologue mentioned above.

When you listen to Ellroy, the supposed “demon dog” of American fiction, his attitude and claims create the image of a recluse bad-ass, a man-pervert who peeps and hoots and barks at the sight or mention of attractive dames, a writer who reads no other writers but Hammett and Cain and a few who meet his standard of acceptable.  Of course, this build-up disentagrates too along with his story.  Ellroy, through his protagonist, seems actually very tender towards women (this is not a bad thing; it just runs uneven with his perpetuated myth).

In the end, Clandestine and Ellroy through Clandestine come off as soft. I won’t give up on the “demon dog” but I know when he claims to be the greatest crime writer in American fiction, I can have a damn good laugh.

Ellroy on Hammett

Posted in Dashiell Hammett, James Ellroy with tags , on July 5, 2010 by gustravis

As I am in between both writers right now, done with The Dain Curse and not quite done with Ellroy’s Clandestine, this article where the modern writer discusses the pioneer of the genre seems an urgent addition.   The entire piece can be found here:

But I’d like to draw some excerpts that highlight the qualities I like in Hammett too.

“Hammett’s male-speak is the gab of the grift, the scam, the dime hustle. It’s the poke, the probe, the veiled query, the grab for advantage. It’s the threat, the dim sanction, the offer of friendship cloaked in betrayal. Plot holes pop through Hammett’s stories like speed bumps. The body count accretes with no more horror than pratfalls in farce. It doesn’t matter. The language is always there.”

“Hammett’s workday men risk peril for trifling remuneration and never question the choice. The great satisfactions of the job are the mastery of danger and the culling of facts to form a concluding physical truth. These facts comprise the closing of the case and thus the story. Hammett’s men stand hollowly proud in their constant case conclusions. They are in no way affirmed or redeemed. They have survived. They are hopped-up versions of the schmuck clerk who got through one more shift at Wal-Mart.”

James Ellroy: Clandestine

Posted in James Ellroy with tags , , , on June 21, 2010 by gustravis

The opening line of James Ellroy’s Clandestine:

“During the dark, cold winter of 1951 I worked Wilshire Patrol, played a lot of golf, and sought out the company of lonely women for one-night stands.”

Ellroy is the only writer included in these journals yet who is still alive.  I like him.  He calls Dashiell Hammett one of the best writers ever.  He thinks Raymond Chandler is a pussy.  He’s a peeping tom, a pervert, a dog-lover, a pulp-writer.

More to come from his 1982 novel Clandestine as I discover it.