Wednesday, September 16, 2009

James Ellroy, P.G. Wodehouse and Barack Obama

James Ellroy is not commonly regarded as a laugh-a-minute type of guy, but I liked this bit from The Cold Six Thousand, part of an exchange between Howard Hughes and mob lawyer/ex-FBI man Ward J. Littell:

HH: Only Mormons and FBI men have clean blood.

WJL: I'm not much of an expert on blood, Sir.

HH: I am. You know the law, and I know aerodynamics, blood and germs.

WJL: We're experts in our separate fields, Sir.
That's pure P.G. Wodehouse in its gentle putdown/evasions, more than worthy of Jeeves and Bertie, though a lethal Jeeves and a warped, racist, power-mad, billionaire, drug-injecting Bertie.

Earlier, Ellroy has J. Edgar Hoover say: "Las Vegas is a hellhole. It is unfit for sane habitation, which may explain its allure to Howard Hughes." That's not Wodehouse, but it's pretty funny.
=====

President Obama was in Philadelphia today. If you know anything about The Cold Six Thousand, you'll know why I smiled as I carried the book through a crowd of pro- and anti-Obama demonstrators on the way to work.

I could not help thinking that protest is much less spontaneous now than in Ellroy's 1960s. There were the "Health care now!" chanters with their neatly printed signs, and there was the obligatory anti-abortion placard with a bloody fetus. But my favorite was a smaller sign, on what looked like brown corrugated cardboard, that demanded: "UFO disclosure now!" Sounds like something Howard Hughes might have looked into had he lived.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

Labels: , , ,

14 Comments:

Blogger Dana King said...

Much as I disliked TC6T, I have to admit, parts of it were pretty funny in a dry, not reaching for the joke kind of way.

September 16, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Several scenes are staged like comedy routines, almost slapstick. These have been marvelous surprises. I've laighed out loud at least once, not something I expected from this book.

September 16, 2009  
Blogger Paul Brazill said...

THAT is a good scene. Not something you'd expect from someone whose mother was murdered. Did you know that?

September 16, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I may highlight several more such comic moments in a post. Maybe readers more familiar than I am with Ellroy are accustomed to such scenes, but I'm not. I'd read only "L.A. Confidental" before this, and I don't remember much humor in that book.

What was that you said about Ellroy's mother?

September 16, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

I think Obama wasted a great opportunity on the first day of his presidency. He's in bed with Michelle and she asks him how it all went and with wide eyes and looking terrified he says "I know I'm not supposed to do this, but I've got to tell someone. I have to tell you the truth about the aliens..." Her face would have been priceless.

Yeah Ellroy is funny. I think I laughed out loud maybe a dozen times during Cold Six and four or five times during Blood's A Rover. (I guess assassinations are just funnier than Presidential scandals)

September 16, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And then she tears off her mask to reveal that she's an android.

Man, what a funny book The Cold Six Thousand is. The mob conclaves are slapstick masterpieces, and Hoover is quite the deadpan comedian.

Ellroy is reading from Blood's a Rover here in Philadelphia next week on one of my days off. I plan to be there, and I'd like to read to the book to see his take on the later 1960s. Not too much peace, love and Woodstock, I bet.

September 16, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Not too much peace, love and Woodstock, I bet.

No. Newark, Watts, and assassinations, more likely.

September 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, Ellroy gets the big assassinations out of the way in The Cold Six Thousand, so he'll have to have come up with something else for the new book. Whatever it is, it will probably be a nice counterpoint to the Woodstock commemorations of earlier this summer.

September 17, 2009  
Blogger booksandacupofcoffee said...

Peter said, “What was that you said about Ellroy's mother?"

Hi! Peter,
I was in "lurking" mode again, but here goes an interview that author James Ellroy, shared with Salon…in which he discusses his mother death. (Murder)

DeeDee ;-D

Salon Interview author James Ellroy

September 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. Lurking is encouraged here.

Ellroy has long been haunted by his mother's killing. He mentioned it a few times at the reading I attended this week and, while one must never get over a trauma like that, I think he's recognized what a motivating force it was for his writing and is accustomed to acknowledging and talking about this.

September 26, 2009  
Blogger booksandacupofcoffee said...

James Ellroy
I think that this link will open to the interview.

September 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I had found the interview with a search for "Salon author interview James Ellroy." What a terrific interview that was. Thanks again.

It was interesting to read a thirteen-year-old interview and to see which of the predictions and vows he made came true and which did not.

September 26, 2009  
Blogger booksandacupofcoffee said...

Peter said,"Ellroy has long been haunted by his mother's killing.

I agree with you, wholeheartedly, about author James Ellroy and his being haunted by his mother’s murder.

I have overheard some people refer to his behavior as a shtick," but I don’t think so, I feel that his so called "shtick"(externally") is a way for him to hide the "hurt"(internally) over the unresolved murder of his mother.
Maybe I ‘am wrong...as I shrug my shoulders.

By the way, let me clarify my lurking comment...I was in "lurking mode" again and then after reading your response to author James Ellroy's mother death I decide to post a comment.

Peter said,"Thanks again.
Peter, you're welcome!...I have not read Ellroy's interview with Salon yet, but I most definitely, plan to check it out!
Thanks,

DeeDee ;-D

September 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, the schtick and the effort to hide the hurt need not be mutually exclusive, and neither need exclude the possibility that he is thorough, industrious and highly professional as a writer. I am by no means an Ellroy expert, but I'd say he's probably all three.

The interview to which you linked, for instance, notes in its introductory paragraph that Ellroy loves to "do press." He's a hard-working writer and an entertainer and a person who has suffered great trauma in his personal life.

September 26, 2009  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home