Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > Crime Wave: Reportage and Fiction from the Underside of L.A.

Crime Wave by James Ellroy
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bookshelves: crime, mysteries

Ellroy's mother was murdered when he was 10. The crime remains unsolved. This has influenced him ever since. He's obsessed w/ murdered & mutilated & tortured women, he's obsessed w/ brutal crimes set in a (usually) 1950s context.

This is a bk of 4 novella-length sections of True Crime / Crime Fiction that was previously published in GQ (Gentlemen's Quarterly). Part One's called "Unsolved" & his mother merits contextualizing mention.

Part Two features his recurring character, "Danny" Getchell, the 'brains' behind a scandal sheet fictionally called "Hush-Hush" based on the factual "Confidential". Getchell, like so many Ellroy characters, is insufferably repulsive - ruining the lives of everyone he touches - resulting in suicides & murders - all justified by his greed fueled by the homophobia & anti-communism of his day. What distinguishes Getchell is that he gives Ellroy an excuse to write in a dramatically different style: alliterative purple prose that's so heavy-handed that it too becomes insufferably repulsive. But w/ Getchell, perhaps more than anywhere else, Ellroy has 'black humor' & poetic justice galore.

Another recurring character is Dick Contino, an actual accordionist that Ellroy arranged to meet when Contino was 63 & asked for permission from to use as a character in his fiction. Ellroy likes Contino so he's arguably a hero or anti-hero. But, SHEESH!, wd I want to be used as a character in an Ellroy novel? No way! Contino is put thru a series of brutal adventures, like all Ellroy characters, where he murders people. By Ellroy's own admission he, Ellroy, is an exploiter - & this is certainly clear here: Contino is exploited & largely debased to an extreme.

The 4th part is back to True Crime - 1st w/ O.J.Simpson (written before the outcome of Simpson's criminal trial). He cautiously (after all, this was printed in a mainstream magazine) deduces/assumes Simpson's guilt & pillories him. I agree. Simpson, for me, is another extremely repulsive character. There are 3 other bits in this section including a reminiscence about his junior high school yrs & a reunion many yrs later. I found it all of interest.

Ellroy's an excellent crime writer. His mom's murder & his own down & out life as a drug abuser & petty offender informs his bks to profoundly depraved depths. But 'if I were him' I'd want to move on, I'd want to finally feel some resolution, some closure. I'd want to recognize & express that life isn't all brutality & torture & treachery & murder & debasement. He's certainly made enuf money by now. What cd a man of his intelligence & talent do if he WERE to move on? I hope we find out eventually.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 18, 2010 – Finished Reading
June 19, 2010 – Shelved
June 19, 2010 – Shelved as: crime
June 19, 2010 – Shelved as: mysteries

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