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Hollywood Nocturnes Paperback – June 12, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307278794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307278791
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,006,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ellroy's clipped and compelling noir realism, so effectively plied in such novels as L.A . Confidential and The Black Dahlia , shows itself to comparable advantage in short form here. The pick of the collection is "Dick Contino's Blues," the longest of the six previously published stories. Adrift in the hazy Hollywood '50s, accordion king Contino wades through nightclub gigs, broads, scandal and auto shows while saving a girl from "pinko" influences and from a publicity-grabbing fake kidnapping that unfortunately coincides with a serial killer's rampage-in-progress. Ellroy's rat-a-tat style expands slightly in "High Darktown," where an L.A. cop and former boxer follows an old enemy to a brutally violent resolution--while most of L.A. celebrates the end of WW II. In a foreword that exhibits the same high-heat style, Ellroy refers to the uneasy realities that underscore his prose, including his mother's unsolved 1958 murder in the City of Angels. Ellroy's narratives and approach aren't likely to please fans of clever-cat or subtle-English-spinster cozies, but he's required reading for those who take their crime fiction gritty, dark and a few degrees below boiling.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The night is a central character of this aptly titled collection. Set mainly in the 1940s and 1950s, the stories are populated by cops, criminals, floozies, hustlers, and zootsuited wiseguys who bring to mind black-and-white B movies and yellowed Police Gazettes. The hero of the longest piece is Dick Contino, the accordion-playing, benny-popping star of the drive-in classic Daddy-O. On the way to starring in this epic, Contino encounters the police officer father of a luscious teenaged tease, a down-and-out producer who nurses his weak heart with Cheese Whiz and crackers, and a psycho who is terrorizing the denizens of Tinseltown's lovers' lanes. The other stories in the collection cover much the same territory and seem to be ideas that didn't quite make it to the novel stage. A good introduction to one of crime fiction's grittier masters.
Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He is the author of the acclaimed L.A. Qurtet - The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz, as well as the Underworld USA trilogy: American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand and Blood's a Rover. He is the author of one work of non-fiction, The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women. Ellroy lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

It was readable, but not Ellroy's best.
stoic
I think it was Faulkner who said something along the lines of: I write novels because poems and short stories are too difficult.
P. Zrimsek
Knowledge of that era is best taken from history books not works of fiction.
Ray Stephanson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. Troutman on March 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
James Ellroy is a strange bird. A novelist whose best work is his autobiography (the amazing _My Dark Places_), he comes across as someone you'd never invite into your home --- his politics are on the gross side and the guy is fixated on prostitution, drugs, the disgustingness of pornography, child killers, etc. --- and he keeps writing the same novel over and over and over. But he writes it so well. It's got this poppity pop style that has your eyeballs merrily skipping and dancing. . . until you hit one of his references to extreme depravity that leave you wrinkling your nose in disgust and your eyeballs moving even faster as they scan ahead to find a spot where you can pick up the story again.

Ellroy has done this same story so many times that there is now quite a range to the theme and variations, not all of which are top-notch: _Brown's Requiem_ (pretty good) to _LA Confidential_ (almost brilliant save his over-the-top libel of Disney) to _A Cold Six Thousand_ (so unreadable that it comes across as passive aggressive hostility toward the reader, like he's giving you the finger for having the temerity to buy his books).

Unfortunately the stories in _Hollywood Nocturne_ are close in spirit to _A Cold Six Thousand_. They are written in his typical lovely style and not the `See Dick snort coke' style of _A Cold Six Thousand_. But the plots of the stories are so egregiously ridiculous that it's hard not to laugh out loud. `The Dick Contino Blues' starts out strong but then it degenerates into a faked kidnaping plot gone wrong. Since the story is peppered with talk about serial killer on the loose in Hollywood, you'd have to be willfully naive to not be able to guess who's really going to do the kidnaping.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
As a another reviewer stated Ellroy is best with the novel format. I've read a lot of his books and it's taken me at least 100 pages to get into the stories, except for American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand.
"Dick Contino's Blues" is the best story in this collection. "High Darktown" is also good. The rest aren't very impressive. Having said that, I cannot wait until Ellroy's next novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By stoic VINE VOICE on May 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Hollywood Nocturnes is a set of standard-issue, James Ellroy short stories. It has all of the usual Ellroy hallmarks: long-ago Los Angeles-area settings, characters who are a mixture of good and bad (but mostly bad), and considerable suspense. Hollywood Nocturnes will not disappoint fans of hardboiled mysteries.

Not surprisingly, the stories vary a bit in quality:

The first two (covering about 150 pages) are a fictionalized account of the real accordionist Dick Contino's life in Hollywood during the 1950s. I didn't think these two were that great; Contino doesn't seem to be that interesting to me & I found the story completely unbelievable.

The third story, "High Darktown," is about the plan for a train robbery at the end of World War II. It was readable, but not Ellroy's best.

"Dial Axminster 6-400" is about two cops who are assigned to transport a prisoner - and find themselves in a web of lies. This probably was my favorite story in the book; it's vintage Ellroy: an intricate plot, heartless characters, and enough action to keep you glued to the page.

"Since I Don't Have You" is about a man hired at the same time by Howard Hughes and gangster Mickey Cohen to find the same woman. It's entertaining, but completely unbelievable.

"Gravy Train" is about a man assigned to "baby-sit" a dog in a Beverly Hills mansion. It's the only story set in the recent past and Ellroy's weakest effort of the book.

"Torch Number" is about a lowlife who wants to find a singer he had an affair with, while he helps intern Japanese-Americans in World War II. I thought that this one worked well.

Ellroy is not for everyone. He is very politically incorrect and his characters can be ruthless and stupid.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on September 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
James Ellory sacred the beejeezes out of me the first time I heard him read in public. He speaks like he writes--in the machine-gun, rat-a-tat, minimalistic style that permeates his characters' voices. I think something invaded his body when he was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He captures that underworld as if he had truly lived it. Or maybe it is the June 1958 cold-case murder of his mother that fuels his energy. Whatever it is, it has catapulted Ellroy into one of the best crime noir writers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

There are rumors that he will finally have a new book later in 2007. It's been too long since the reading public has been titillated to a new work (Destination: Morgue! in 2004). Maybe in anticipation or as a reminder that Ellroy is still lurking out there, Vintage Books has released Hollywood Nocturnes, which was originally published in hardcover in 1994.

I don't think Ellroy does well with a short form. He needs a novel format to capture his characters and plots with his signature style. Although all six stories have night/darkness as a theme, that's not enough to carry the collection. I wonder how well this sold when it was originally published? Probably pretty well, since it's being re-printed.

There's something missing in these six stories that I can't quite put my finger on. They start to build but then about the time I was ready to settle in for a great read, the stories end. My personal favorite, and the best in the collection is "Dial Axminister 6-400."

Although the collection is disappointing from my point of view, it's still James Ellroy writing--and for writers, it's worth the struggle to watch a master practice his craft.

Armchair Interviews says: Interesting short stories written by a great mystery writer.
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