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Bad White Men

Christopher Tayler: James Ellroy, 19 July 2001

The Cold Six Thousand 
by James Ellroy.
Century, 672 pp., £16.99, April 2001, 0 7126 4817 8
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... Since completing the quartet of LA crime novels that made his name, James Ellroy has left us in no doubt that he wants to be more than a genre writer, embarking on a series of books intended to rewrite the history of America between the late 1950s and the early 1970s, the ‘Underworld USA’ trilogy. The title is a tribute to Sam Fuller, who directed the film of the same name, but the initial impetus came – as Ellroy frequently acknowledges – from Libra, Don DeLillo’s Lee Harvey Oswald novel ...


Will Self: James Ellroy, 2 December 2010

The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women 
by James Ellroy.
Heinemann, 203 pp., £16.99, September 2010, 978 0 434 02064 5
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... When James Ellroy’s latest cod-cosmic rehash of his troubled – and troubling – life arrived on my doorstep I assumed the business of reacquainting myself with the terrain shouldn’t be that difficult. The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women is, on the face of it, a substantiation of Ellroy’s previous memoir, My Dark Places, in which he employed the true-crime plot device of hiring his own homicide detective, formerly of the LA sheriff’s department, in order to reopen the investigation into the unsolved murder of his mother, Jean Hilliker, in 1958 ...

Round up the usual perverts

Michael Wood: ‘L.A. Confidential’, 1 January 1998

L.A. Confidential 
directed by Curtis Hanson.
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... film ends. One of the many attractions of LA Confidential, a glossy, atmospheric movie based on a James Ellroy novel, is its unembarrassed pleasure in this kind of stuff. You get the world but you lose the girl. The girl is damaged goods, but she is Kim Basinger. The other figure in the triangle, played by Russell Crowe, is another policeman, an ex-thug ...

Back to the Ironing-Board

Theo Tait: Weber and Norman, 15 April 1999

The Music Lesson 
by Katharine Weber.
Phoenix House, 161 pp., £12.99, January 1999, 1 86159 118 7
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The Museum Guard 
by Howard Norman.
Picador, 310 pp., £12.99, February 1999, 9780330370097
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... apportion blame, can also be problematic. The more skilful writers of genre fiction – Le Carré James Ellroy – have progressed beyond merely pointing the finger at ‘them’ (the Russians, SPECTRE) or, failing that, ‘us’ (moles, corrupt superiors), by depicting worlds in which betrayal, double-cross and conspiracy are all-pervasive, where ...

Come back if you can

Christopher Tayler: Jhumpa Lahiri, 24 October 2013

The Lowland 
by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Bloomsbury, 340 pp., £16.99, September 2013, 978 1 4088 2811 3
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... as caesuras or glue sentence fragments together. Quick-fire repetitions recall, of all people, James Ellroy: ‘They were dissidents of the CPI(M). They were demanding ownership rights for sharecroppers. They were telling peasants to till for themselves.’ At one point, parsimony with an ‘of’ mutilates Bela’s feet (‘the nails of her ...

Motorised Youth Rebellion

Andy Beckett: Radical LA, 18 February 2021

Set the Night on Fire: LA in the Sixties 
by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener.
Verso, 788 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 1 78478 022 7
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... rest of his mayoralty. Since the 1960s, such shadowy goings-on have provided rich material for ‘James Ellroy and other pulp writers’, as Davis and Wiener sum up LA’s long line of novelist-historians. They themselves take a more sober approach, describing the city’s labyrinthine municipal politics not with relish so much as clarity and ...

The Coat in Question

Iain Sinclair: Margate, 20 March 2003

All the Devils Are Here 
by David Seabrook.
Granta, 192 pp., £7.99, March 2003, 9781862075597
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... in his youthful pomp, in Michael Powell’s A Canterbury Tale. Hawtrey (pre-booze) with Will Hay. James Fox’s strangulated Elephant and Castle in Performance. Hitchcock’s expressionist version of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Seabrook’s work, before the wonderful accident of All the Devils Are Here, went straight into the ether. His early essays, as Ginsberg ...


Iain Sinclair: Out of Essex, 8 January 2004

... respect rather than disposable celebrity. She has contributed to some of the better documentaries: James Ellroy, Anita Ekberg, Eric Sykes, watershed BBC2, air-hostesses and desert roads, midnight fodder on Channel 4, the real lost memories. She likes to use old film, degraded archive footage, and to have it reshot on tape, fed into her slim box of ...

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