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White Jazz
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on April 20, 2017
Started to walk in retirement at a prep school field house - an audio book single CD is wonderful to listen to and time a 60-75 minute bout of early morning walking - getting in those 10K step a day. Wanted to do the LA series by Jame Ellroy and this used copy of WHITE JAZZ was an excellent end to a month of walking and following the various characters in the series. Very well written and loved learning about the word "hinky". All four books had excellent narrators and certainly held my attention while starting up this exercise program. Nice to stimulate the body and the mind at the same time - after all you can only look at those four walls so many times before the brain gives out. A wonderful selection of audio books keeps me going back six days a week.
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on December 8, 2016
A challenging read, but a good read nonetheless. His short staccato prose obfuscates at times, but occasionally, like the final group of chapters, it feels like it couldnt have been written any other way.

As always, the plot is denser than a bagmans fist and this book bruises like one. The first draft was 600+ pages, but the editor thought it too long. Instead of shaving off plot, he shaved off connecting words and other stuff. This stylist approach left out descriptions and often the innerlife of the character. Those are two mild problems that partially forgivable.

My biggest qualm in this novel is the lack of complex characterization of the female characters. The two signjfcant female characters are so minor,and really have no motivations of there and only get swept up in the klein's problems. This wasnt a problem in previous novels, but it is a huge criticism.

Overall, the book was a thrilling ride. The deeds are dastardly, and every event was horrendous. The kinda book that makes being bad look so good. Neo noir at its finest.
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on October 7, 2013
The good news--this time Elroy managed to pull off a first person crime novel that remains suspenseful. Too often in books like these, the important clues are waved right in front of the hero, who ignores them even as the reader is screaming at him "You idiot! The author just told you the answer!" First person holds a novel together, so this one seems unified, like "The Black Dalhia". The main problem is that the anti-hero cop is too much anti and not enough hero. He is also a bit of a cold fish, even though he has several love interests. If I were writing it, I would have considered third person, with Ed and Dudley as the other two. Ed and Dudley are much more interesting than the narrator who seems to have been created mainly as a vehicle through which to tell their story. This book wins the "Best description of the sights, sounds and smells of LA c. 1958."

I gave this one four stars instead of five, because of the weakness of the characterizations. On the other hand, Ellroy has gotten better at weaving the threads of "Big" novel. If the stories are true and this one really was much longer in its first draft, I think they ought to do a "director's cut" re-release. I would be willing to bet cold hard cash that the cut scenes (if they exist) filled in some of that missing character development, the way that the director's cut of "Stranger in a Strange Land" included more character development. Why do publishers hate character development so much? It is what readers want.
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on May 8, 2014
White Jazz is, like the other three novels in Ellroy's "L.A. Quartet" quite an excellent read. The only snag for some readers will be that White Jazz was either written in a very different, stripped-down style than the three novels that precede it, or at least represents the most extreme form of a style that began to emerge in L.A. Confidential.

From what I read, Mr. Ellroy was asked by his publisher to severely shorten L.A. Confidential and, rather than cut out any of the existing plots or subplots, Mr. Ellroy chose instead to eliminate any words that were not absolutely necessary. While the prose in L.A. Confidential did not actually strike me as minimalist, it was immediately evident that the prose in White Jazz was flayed right down to the bone. As an example, instead of seeing dialogue such as "'Police! Stop or we'll shoot!' yelled Stemmons." or prose describing what is going on in any great detail, you get things like "Stemmons: 'Police! Stop or we'll shoot!", "Rap sheet checks: nine outstanding warrants between them," and even "Chaos: blood spray, bet slip/cash confetti."

At first it was a bit hard to get the hang of this style, and with character descriptions kept to a minimum (or sometimes not included at all) I found it harder to keep straight who was who in the story. However, it is a testament to Mr. Ellroy's skill in storytelling that once you get used to the style you become so engrossed in the storyline that you no longer notice the missing prose. Needless to say, the style itself also keeps the novel moving at a breakneck pace.

This book's style has made me very curious to move into Ellroy's later works if even just to see how it develops as he practices it more.
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on July 7, 2016
After finishing "White Jazz," which is excellent, you can see why Ellroy moved on to a larger canvas. "White Jazz" takes the revenge tragedy about as far as it can go, the telegraphic style is starting to mature, you get a little bit of wrap-up on the main figures of the LA Quartet and we're off to the sublime USA Underworld Trilogy. Love Ellroy, "White Jazz" is a little branch on a great tree.
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on March 30, 2016
An indescribably awesome work, culminating the quartet that began with The Black Dahlia. Elroy's writing style is distilled and refined to a fine minimalism, like the music of Anton Webern. You must read the preceding books or the density of writing will overwhelm you. Pure cop talk, sentence structure often abandoned.

Many characters from The Big Nowhere and LA Confidential, but the central character is Lieutenant Dave Klein, the sole narrator and in first person , a sharp break from the first three of the quartet.

I love this book.
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on January 26, 2016
Mr. Ellroy is a gifted granular writer with an enormous grasp of mood and detail, which he combines into an almost be-bop style of tossing language around into fevered symphonies all his own. Personally though, in spite of the license given for historical accuracy, the almost gleeful and often unsupported use of the "n" word does become wearing enough to lose a star. We get that it's the fifties, but it's being written in the aughts.
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on December 12, 2012
The final part of the L.A. Quartet, White Jazz shares the common traits of its predecessors: huge story, struggling characters, frantic pace and a vivid descripition of L.A. in the 50's. As English is not my primary language, I have to confess that I had some trouble with the writing style of the book, and the first 30 pages or so took some time to read, but afterwards you grow accostumed with the style. It is also important to note that, wheter it was intentional or not, the writing style fits the way that the main character would describe such facts, so it helps to set the mood right. Even if the plot is not as powerful as The Big Nowhere and L.A. Confidential, it brings the story arc of a number of characters to a very fitting close, and that surely gives the book more weight
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on July 22, 2016
Great read for Ellroy fans. Of course,.. a familiar location, with some familiar characters. "Jazz".. Perfect description for the writing style of this book. Very different, and at times a bit hard to follow. But once you get into the flow of the text, you're off !!!
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on May 29, 2015
if you like noir fiction, well written, give this one a shot. My enjoyment of the book was mared only by the sections from which the title must have come. The attempt at a free form"Beat" style for certain segments of the book do add a jazzy feel to the timber of the of the novel, I found them, at first, very confusing. In the end it sort of worked for me.
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