Dec 27, 07
central north carolina
Read in December, 2007
while ellroy's chandler-on-crack routine is exhausting stylistically [mock sample excerpt: "this spic commie was a real cooze hound. dig his geeked-out arsenal: 20 30.06 shells, three silencer-rigged .45s, a rapemobile-mounted shotgun. agency/outfit sanctioned figured kemper boyd."], _american tabloid_'s dark reimagining of early-60s optimism as a cesspool of cynical political power plays underscored by mixed alliances, double- and triple-crosses, and the reduction of the era's most "powerful/influential" figures [kennedy (known as "The Haircut"), j. edgar hoover, howard hughes] to low-level pawns ruthlessly manipulated by crooked cops, mafiosa and the like is as addictive as the uncut heroin that, in ellroy's world, finances world-stage events including the bay of pigs, the kennedy assasination, etc.
think of _american tabloid_ as something like a fictional _people's history_ of 1959-1963, gore vidal on a really bad acid trip, or just what it claims to be: a tabloid rendering of critical moments in US history.
the novel is definitely a "grower," with plot intrigue overshadowing ellroy's painfully hardboiled style only after several hundred pages that establish a web of CIA/FBI/Justice Department/Mafia/Cuban alliances and counter-alliances, enabling a deeply impressive scope and ambition for _american tabloid_. regardless, one must be prepared to wade through over 500 pages of countless plot twists and one-sentence, three-word paragraphs to realize the novel's full payoff. while the tradeoff was ultimately worth it for me, i suspect others might feel differently.