- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 6 hours and 19 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
- Audible.com Release Date: July 9, 2013
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00DGBYBQE
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Hollywood Nocturnes: Mysterious Press - HighBridge Audio Classics Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His novels are set in California but he now lives in Connecticut. He wrote four novels, only one was adapted for a movie. There are seven stories on these 229 pages. "Out of the Past" is an introduction. [The title of a movie also?] I read "High Darktown" and "Dial Axminster 6-400" but didn't like them. Reading "Dick Contino's Blues" made me give up on this book. His stories show a limited view of a fictional L.A. They have a dark and perverse view of the 1950s. Do they reflect his own outlook and personality? I think they will only find favor with those who want to read about this fictional world to meet their special needs.
Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler set their stories in the California cities where they lived. They wrote of their own times, not in a make-believe past. Most people were born after the 1950s. Knowledge of that era is best taken from history books not works of fiction. Ellroy's books would be worth more if they actually told about real events. A popular history doesn't have to footnote every paragraph. Just reading the front pages of the daily newspapers of that era would produce a better book. I remember the action movie "L. A. Confidential" as having a universally corrupt background. Was the book better than the movie?
The short stories of Hammett and Chandler seem much better than anything written by Ellroy here. Read and compare for yourself.
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.
The self-parody hits its peak in `Gravy Train', a story about a guy (on probation of course) who is responsible for taking care of a white bull terrier that has inherited the fortune from a businessman who made millions (illegally of course) and given it all to his pooch Basko. There's an accidental dognaping by some burglars who also train fighting dogs (of course). Here's how Basko's rescue is described:
>Two burly shvartzes were fitting black leather gloves fitted with razor blades to his paws; Basko was wearing a muzzle embroidered with swastikas. I padded back and got ready to kill; Basko sniffed the air and leaped at his closest defiler. A hot second for the gutting; Basko lashed out with his paws and disemboweled him clean. The other punk screamed; I ran up and bashed his face in with the butt of my roscoe. . . I grabbed Basko and hauled ass.
What are we to make of this? Is this clever postmodern irony? Does Ellroy prefer to stick to the pre-Civil Rights era so that deranged ethnic stereotyping is somehow `authentic'? [ "burly shvartzes. . . embroidered with swastikas. . . " The aforementioned eyeballs go cross-eyed.] Is he making fun of us for reading him? Or is he just strung out on something?
Your guess is as good as mine.
"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.