Tuesday, August 01, 2006

James Ellroy's Dark Place

"I was starting to lose it. Here's a trip, there's a stumble, beware of a fall."

I am a giant big fan of the "Demon Dog", author James Ellroy. The author behind "L.A. Confidential" and others, he is a unique voice in literature today-- he gives voice to the recent past, particularly the lore of Los Angeles. Drawing a fictional world of characters from the cloth of reality -- such as the JFK assasination in "American Tabloid" -- he's a magnificent writer. There's no doubt that Ellroy is a tortured and disturbed soul, but his taut, syncopatic prose and his evocative images easily transport you to the time he's writing of.

To help commemorate the forthcoming film version of "The Black Dahlia" in September, he wrote a an article in Los Angeles Times' West Magazine on his love/hate affair with Los Angeles. Be sure to check it out.

Here's my favorite passage from the piece, wherein he describes L.A.: "W.H. Auden called L.A. "The Great Wrong Place." I'll ascribe intent. Auden saw L.A. as a lodestone for opportunists and psychically maimed misfits. I sense this because I fall into both categories. Auden couched L.A. in a film-noir construction. Losers migrated here to start over and become someone else. L.A. was a magnet for lives in desperate duress. The sheer indifference of the place consumed the migrants and drove them mad. They succumbed to madness in a sexy locale. The place itself provided solace and recompense. They had the comfort of other arriviste losers. They entered the L.A. spiritus mundi. They handed out their head shots. They joined that unique L.A. casting call."

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