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Friday, December 30, 2005

Hardboiled

I finished L.A.Confindential today. It was an intricate, compelling book that I can't say I liked very much.

Here's the thing. I'm a sensitive gal, and even in this age of gangsta rappin and recalmation and irony irony irony, I fucking can't stand hearing the word "nigger." Same goes for its more dated antecendants. This book is full of that word and others, so much so I felt abused after a certain point. To me, there is nothing more ugly and hurtful than a mind full of hatred and fear, especially one with a cop's mouth attached. Rapid-fire racial epiteths take the joy out of reading/hearing any work for me, no matter how well crafted, or well observed it is.

Yeah, yeah, I get that Ellroy was going for authenticity-- 50s cop slang is a varied and colorful languauge, and I can see why it would be amazingly attractive to an author to immerse himself in it, flog it for all its exciting quaintness- the "real" side of the Bogie coin. I'm sure cops talked that way, and do today in some places. I know he wanted the brutality of a cops life in a famously white-washed time to come through for the reader. But let me tell you folks, in the end I just couldn't dig it.

Ellroy rockets the story along with greatly nuanced POVs-- his celebrity gossip rag prose is some seriously well-crafted shit. It was a good ride through a world of mobsters, crooked cops and politicans, diners, dive bars and whorehouses, but something was just wrong. For all its smarts, L.A. Confidential was missing, uh, let me get a little B-movie here: heart. You can't write a love letter (even if its a love letter to violence and a time long past) without love. Instead we get a feeling that Ellroy was trying to out-write his demons and purge himself of a world that held only despair*, by spewing out all the hate he could muster, and giving hmself a total boner in the process.


*James Ellroy's mother was murdered in Hollywood when he was a little boy. Her killer was never found. I look forward to reading his memoir, My Dark Places, about it. Thanks to Ms. Void for reminding me about that book...

1 comment:

Rhonda Void said...

No problem Miss Thang! Actually, I'm not that kind of drag queen. Yes, but to get back to the topic, I caught a very fine documentary on the subject of James Elroy and the murder of his mother on A&E or was it the History channel? Well, I'm sure you can google it. Because that's what we do, right? And what's all this about being deppressed? You know what my aspiring writer friend Fawzy says to me when I embark on my own non-fiction story telling? Fawzy says that, "Baby, you are only ass good as your last story." So as soon as you finish a piece and sent it out, well honey, foget about it! You start a new one. That's it. You become the Ford assembly plant and that's how you get better. Write it, Revise it, Send it out and you forget about it! Now you go on with your bad self!