Sunday, September 13, 2009

James Ellroy and the Hollies

I was eating breakfast at my local café this week when a verse of telegraphic lyrics came floating over the stereo system:
"Bus stops. Bus goes. She stays. Love grows."
Its clipped cadence, if not the story it told, reminded me of a passage from a book I was reading at the time:
"Clouds imploded. Buildings weaved. People blipped."
Name the song and the novel from which these two pieces of terse storytelling are taken, and you win my respect.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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21 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

The famous Hollies song is Bus Stop, an Am Em G chord progression if I recall correctly. The novel might be The Cold Six Thousand.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Right you are, though a quick bit of hands-on research suggests the the progression is Am-Em-G-C.

The novel is indeed The Cold Six Thousand, which I think I'm going to like almost as much as you probably do.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Let's take this a bit further:

Clouds imploding. Buildings weaving. Silly but it's true.

Or maybe By August she was mine would make a more suitable Ellroy-Hollies fusion.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

I was talking to someone last week who say Ellroy read in Melbourne a few years ago - he brought a sort of jazz band band with him and did free form riffs, acc. by sax and drum, so perhaps something by Charlie Parker might be more his thing.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm not sure how I'd feel about such a production, but Ellroy's prose creates a kinetic effect that might suggest music with great bursts of notes. Charlie Parker would be a good choice. Perhaps Cecil Taylor, too.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Paul Brazill said...

did you know that his mother was murdered? He's done a good job of keeping that quiet.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hell, I thought he'd shouted it from the rooftops, or at least written a nonfiction book about it.

In fact, I know little more than the standard cocktail-party chatter about Ellroy, and the only book of his I've read until now is L.A. Confidential.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Paul Brazill said...

;)

September 13, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

In Blood's a Rover, at times it feels as if every sentence has the same rhythm over and over and over. Unless he's writing dialogue, they tend to be very short. It's almost the way a kid would write, it's that uncomplicated. Of course, all the complication is in the story and in the use of words. And I assume the rhythm of the sentences is deliberate, since when he writes non-fiction pieces, he doesn't write like that at all.

My favorite description from Blood's a Rover so far: "The room was cop-blah." (The quote is from memory, so I probably got it slightly wrong.)

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Paul, Ellroy will be in Philadelphia next week. Should I ask him, "So, Mr. Ellroy, are you a ghoulish publicity hound and the object of a self-created personality cult, or what?" He's a pretty mild-mannered guy, I hear. I'm sure he wouldn't mind such a question.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I have too much reading to do right now on other projects to sit down and read The Cold Six Thousand through. But your comment about Blood's a Rover might apply in this case as well. I look at the short sentences and the choppy rhythm, and I think, "This should not work." But it does.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

Yep, it's pretty incredible. Takes some guts as a writer, I think.

And no, I don't think I'd mess with Mr. Ellroy, particularly if he's brought his dog.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, that puppy is just so adorable!

Well, I've read just the first few chapters, so I'm quite ready to pronounce judgment on the book. But it grabbed me right away. One odd note: I seem to recall picking up one of his other "difficult" books, American Tabloid or White Jazz, and not liking it much.

V-word: outist

September 13, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

I think he's one of those writers for whom you have to find a certain key, and then all of a sudden you get them. Salman Rushdie was the last like that for me. Read a couple with only moderate interest, and then read Satanic Verses and everything changed. Now I'm going to have to read the others again.

But I think Adrian gave me the way into Ellroy with his Cold Six Thousand review, which I was kind of surprised to rediscover not on his blog but over at Crime Always Pays.

Actually, that's probably not where I read it, since I don't think I was reading anyone's blog in February 2008,, but you 'll get the general idea.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think it was Adrian who sparked my interest in The Cold Six Thousand as well, and Ellroy's pending appearance in Philadelphia that got me reading it. It was nice to read a review that rhapsodized about the building blocks of the novel -- the words. Not many reviews do this. Of course, not many novels are the stuff that inspire a reviewer to consider them in this way.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

I think he looks rather good in the photograph, although a bow tie always sets off crazy-person alarm bells with me.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

He looks as if his head is about to shoot out of his collar with a great pop and fizz.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

About the Hollies, the legend is that Graham Nash left the group in artistic disagreement with their decision to record an entire album of Dylan songs. I don't know whether that's true or not, but I can tell you from first-hand experience that Words and Music by Bob Dylan is a pretty good album. Their versions of "I Shall Be Released" and "Wheel's on Fire" are particularly good.

'Course, Nash's departure didn't hurt his future success any.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I hadn't heard that. Words and Music by Bob Dylan is a crappy title, and I don't know the album, but the Hollies were a pretty good pop band. I don't know of anyone else who sounded like them. And why the hell shouldn't they sing Dylan? Everyone else did. "If Not For You" didn't hurt Olivia Newton-John's career any.

I once interviewed Graham Nash for my college paper. I forget what I asked, but one of my questions pissed him off. It was fun.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

I think the story goes that Nash didn't want them to do cover songs any more.

September 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I can believe that. Nash always had wider interests than his lightweight reputation might siggest. When I interviewed him, for example, he was wearing a Sex Pistols button. It may have been my question about it that made him angry.

September 13, 2009  

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