Thursday, August 19, 2010

FFB: book I loved when I was 23!

L.A. Confidential by by James Ellroy

Ok, Ok I can hear you all now, there is no way that James F’n Ellroy is a forgotten writer and L.A. Confidential is not a forgotten book--- even if it is:

books we loved when we were between 18-23, college age. What book did you read when you should have been reading THE ODYSSEY and THE HISTORY OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION? over at Patti’s FBB round up (HERE)

According to my list, yeah I kept a list of books read from 1991 into the start of 2002, I read L.A. Confidential for the first time between 28th of March 1996 and the 2nd of April 1996. I was 23 years old and it was my last semester as a student at Michigan State University.

II am going to shock you all and say that it’s the film (as amazing a piece of work as it is) that is remembered and not the book. I would go so far as to say the film has so overshadowed the book that people don’t even know there was one of thee most chilling serial killers ever in fiction in the book. That’s right L.A. Confidential features a killer so vile that he out creeps Dr Hannibal Lecter at least he did when I first read the book as a college student back in the mid 90s.

The plot of the book is pretty much the plot of the film, which stripped away several subplots and deleted a few characters and as I like to say ‘took the lest interesting parts of the book and made an amazing film out of them”--- and that’s not a knock on those least interesting parts, which are better than the most interesting parts of a lot of other books.

If you have not seen the film or read the book, it’s the story the third of his L.A. Quartet series, all of which cover L.A. in the 1950s, starting really in the late 1940s and the book The Black Dahlia Ellroy tells the story of social control an depression by the LAPD and the city power structure. Of the Quartet this is the Lynch pin book, with the Black Dahlia, and The Big Nowhere leading up to the events of the book,.

Characters from the film that people already know like Bud White, Jack Vincennes and Edmund Exley are all here, along with Dudley Smith and several remnants of the cast of previous book The Big Nowhere. There is more on the back stories of our heroes and several plot threads and subplots that were omitted from the film. Ellroy weaves all of these together expertly and really is in top form in this book. This is the Ellroy who’s words were just stripped down enough and has yet to kinda loose his way trying to write about the 1960s.

It’s the first book I think of when I think of Ellroy and for me it is his best.


Frank Loose said...

I agree with you that it is Ellroy's best, though I enjoyed every thing he wrote up through American Tabloid. After that, his clipped writing style became too much for me.

Evan Lewis said...

That WAS a good one!

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