White Jazz is Pretty Black.

I am a reader of most genres of mysteries: those traditional stories of Agatha Christie and those hard-scrabble Spenser novels of Robert B. Parker. I love Dorothy Sayers (and Lord Peter Wimsey) and that classic word-smith, Raymond Chandler. More recent authors like John Lescroart (Dismas Hardy and Abe Glitsky) and Michael Connolly (Harry Bosch) have kept me reading far into to the night. From time to time I plan to share my thoughts-ask questions, make observations-with my reading buddies.

Has anyone seen the movies L.A. Confidential or The Black Dahlia? I’ve seen the first but didn’t realize both were from hard-boiled LA novelist James Ellroy. I picked up another book by him at a local Little Free Library and took it home. White Jazz is one of around 14 novels and memoirs written by Ellroy. Since I like other gritty authors I thought I would give it a try.  And another try, and another try and another try. I finally finished it but, geez, it was hard.

This book is nothing more than a sketchy “stream-of consciousness-y” book of a not very nice man:

“Book the fuckers-Newton Street Station.”

“Two hours of pure shitwork.”

“Tijuana whore stuff: ‘Pretty’”

Three hundred and fifty four pages filled with writing like that. Here’s my question: Does Ellroy write this way in all the other books?  If all his novels are similar, I am astonished that L.A. Confidential was such a good movie. Its dialogue is coarse at times, but the story telling is smooth and comprehensible.  I suppose I need to try another one or two to see if they are all written in the same way, but I don’t know if I have the stomach for it.

That’s all for now, “kats and kittens”


Tell me: should I try some more Ellroy or just reread some classic Chandler?

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