24 August 2010

Thoughts On: Blood's A Rover

Blood's A Rover is the third and final instalment of James Ellroy's massive "Underworld USA Trilogy".  Like American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand before it, the book's an endless parade of shakedown men, tough guys, intelligence spooks, FBI agents, commies, right wingers, mobsters, degenerates, horrible racists and unforgiving racist caricatures. 

Oh, and lots of transcripts.  The man loves his transcripts. 

Like the previous books, this Ellroy yarn is told in almost telegram-style prose.  See Dick Run.  See Dick Extort.  Extort, Dick, Extort.  I'm glad I listened to these books.  I couldn't read them.

The audiobook is read well by professional Bill-Maher lookalike and star of Nightmare On Elm Street III, Craig Wasson.  

He might not look like much, but hey, he kicked Freddy Kruger's ass.

I don't know if Wasson got specific instructions to make every character identified as a Jew in the text sound like a cross between Jackie Mason and Alan King, and to make every person of colour sound countrified, even when they're L.A. natives, but I can't really claim that he's working at odds with the material, which is deliberately, childishly, gleefully racist about such things.  Which is the point... I guess... or Ellroy's point is to tick people off... whatever, I went with it...

Like the former two parts, there's a lot of 60's conspiracy stuff here, but you never get the sense James Ellroy takes any of it serious, that he's actually proposing any of it.  And I think his only political conviction is his pretty transparent world view that you either recognize the filthy, complicit game that is life, or else you're just a sucker.  

 In all six gazillion words of his trilogy, I don't think five hundred deal with anybody who'd be considered a "regular citizen".  Ellroy likes the people in the know, the "game players", even the scum, no matter what kind of violent thug they are.  

And I'm sure he felt JUST LIKE THIS when he was writing it...
but y'know, with a computer in front of him and less
high-grade horse in the bottom drawer.

One thing's for sure, Ellroy sure loves this cozy, dirty little world of secrets and levels, this bygone age of men in hats.  He loves trails of ink on paper and trails of spilled blood, and he's willing to follow them anywhere, and invite us along in detail. 

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