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You wouldn't expect slick GQ to perform the greatest magazine service to hard-boiled crime writing since the heyday of Black Mask, but the evidence is before your eyes: Crime Wave, James Ellroy's collected GQ works circa 1993-99.
Though Crime Wave contains two stories in the exhilaratingly sleazy voice of the fictitious scandal rag Hush-Hush, and the novella-length "Hollywood Shakedown," a tale of sex, drugs, and murder starring '50s crooner-accordionist Dick Contino, the book is predominantly nonfiction. There's one flavorful piece, "Bad Boys in Tinseltown," about the day in 1967 when Ellroy--then a speed freak who broke into fancy houses to steal stuff and sniff women's underwear--read an article by Curtis Hanson raving about Bonnie and Clyde and was inspired. Then Ellroy flashes forward to 1996, when he visits Hanson as he directs the triumphant film version of L.A. Confidential.
GQ talked Ellroy into writing about the event that made him a maniac, and then an obsessive writer: his dissolute mother's unsolved murder in 1958, when he was 10. His investigation of her death began with the chilling GQ article "My Mother's Killer," which grew into the book My Dark Places. (If you haven't heard Ellroy read it on audiotape, you haven't shivered.) His investigation of another woman's murder, "Body Dumps," is in some ways better, because there's a suspect to eviscerate in prose. "Sex, Glitz, and Greed," written about O.J. during the trial, is an odd fit in this collection, but when Ellroy is on his own turf--L.A.'s seamy, undead past--nobody can touch him. --Tim Appelo
Ellroy's obsessionsATinseltown tabloid sleaze and his mother's murderAhave fueled his writing and provided readers with countless indelible images, reams of trademark stuttergun prose and at least two killer books, L.A. Confidential and My Dark Places. This collection of 11 pieces of fiction and reportage, all previously published in GQ magazine, isn't essential Ellroy, but newcomers contemplating a tentative first dip might find it a fine place to start. The powerfully frank "My Mother's Killer" evolved into My Dark Places, and "Body Dumps" and "Glamour Jungle" both explore LAPD investigations into crimes similar to the death of Ellroy's mother in 1958, when he was 10. Two tales feature the investigative reporting of Hush-Hush magazine, always dedicated to digging the dirt and awesomely addicted to alliteration. Real-life accordionist Dick Contino has several capers of his own and gets to ingest illegal drugs, whack a few lowlifes and hang with Sammy Davis Jr. Ellroy also tackles O.J. Simpson's case, his own high school reunion and the making of the film L.A. Confidential. For some reason, his editor at GQ balked at letting the "Demon Dog of American Literature" loose on Bill and Monica. We surely missed out on a whole sackful of sleazy stuff there. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ellroy is my favorite author so he has done no wring in the writing of the books of his I have read. I look for new titles.Published 21 months ago by H. M. Winn
Not every piece here is a gem, but those that are shine brightly. The take on the OJ case is sheer genius, and well worth picking this book up for by itself. Read more
The strangest crime-novel ever written. It is in fact an autobiographical attempt that tries to connect the past and the future. Read morePublished on January 14, 2006 by Jacques COULARDEAU
While James Ellroy has many fans, and while agreeing that short articles are undoubtedly his metier, I found that a whole book made up of these sentences was just too much !! Read morePublished on October 23, 2004 by Beverley Strong
The Demon Dog dishes out his dirtiest, most daring, most dastardly, debauchery to date. Getchell's got giant gonads and guts galore. Read morePublished on September 16, 2004 by Derek S. Beck
Cities have always brought out the worst in people, regardless of how glamourous or charming it may seem. No writer seems to understand this more than James Ellroy. Read morePublished on January 20, 2001 by Kate Hopkins
After watching him interviewed on E!, I had to check out his book. If anyone is into Los Angeles' History and crime stories, this book is for you. Read morePublished on December 29, 2000
I am a huge Ellroy fan. I have read nearly every one of his books, but this one just didn't cut it. Read morePublished on August 21, 2000 by Erik J. Larsen