There is no question that James Ellroy is as eloquent as he is controversial and in this timely collection of interviews edited by Crimezine chum and all round Ellroy expert Steve Powell the self-styled devil dog of Crime Fiction gushes forth.
Those familiar with Ellroy’s style of ranting hyperbole will have heard much of this before. For those of you unfamiliar with Big Jim’s outspoken histronics, prepare to be shocked and entertained in equal measure.
The joy of James Ellroy is that he is as outrageous and outspoken as he is stylistically talented as a writer. Here the fabulous Mr Ellroy crosses swords with fellow crime writers Craig McDonald David Pearce and many others, including several previously unpublished interviews.
Crimezine first met Ellroy on the Cold Six Thousand book tour in London England, a period when the great man admits in his book the Hilliker Curse that he was weirded out on prescription meds. No kidding. He came across like Heinrich Himmler meets Dee Dee Ramone. He spoke short sentences. He spoke in verse. He bestowed shock and awe quotations. He delivered dogma with double-fisted controversy and prurient paradox. With Ellroy it is always this way.
Ellroy revels in reliving his past as a panty sniffing dope fiend and low rent housebreaker, offsetting this with seemingly contradictory views as a card-carrying god squader and right-wing demogogue. He despises squalor, rock and roll and nihilism. He eschews the modern world, choosing to avoid television, movies, cell phones, computers and books.
Yes, you heard it right Crimeziners. Ellroy is a writer who has no books other than his own—if we are to believe the hype and there in lies the rub because Ellroy is as smart and tuned in as it is possible to be—he says he avoids the modern world—but at a push he will provide acerbic commentary that betrays more knowledge than he likes to let on. Perhaps if he denies knowledge of everything other than himself then the conversation will be confined to him? That fits. That is Ellroy—No question.
Monsterous, perverse, egomaniacal, but always eminently quotable, the irony is that Ellroy has obsessed for years over dysfunctional megalomaniacs like J. Edgar Hoover and Howard Hughes, but he fails to see the very real parallels between their behavior and his own. Conversations with James Ellroy, is essential, if unsettling reading, Crimezine recommends it wholeheartedly.