James Ellroy

James Ellroy

Infobox Writer

imagesize = 150px
name = James Ellroy
caption =
birthdate = birth date and age|1948|3|4|mf=y
birthplace = Los Angeles, California
occupation = Novelist
nationality = United States

James Ellroy (born Lee Earle Ellroy on March 4, 1948 in Los Angeles, California) is an American writer.

Ellroy is a best-selling crime writer and essayist with a "telegraphic" writing style, which omits words other writers would consider necessary, and often features sentence fragments. Other hallmarks of his work include dense plotting and a relentlessly pessimistic worldview. Ellroy has been called the "Demon Dog of American crime fiction." [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107250/ "James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction" documentary film] ]


In 1958, his mother, the former Geneva Hilliker, was murdered in El Monte, where she and Ellroy had moved three years after her divorce from his father, Armand. The unsolved killing, and a birthday present from his father a few months later, "The Badge" by Jack Webb (a book comprised of sensational cases from the files of the Los Angeles Police Department), were pivotal moments in his life, as related in his memoir, "My Dark Places".

"My Dark Places" was begun in 1994 after Ellroy's friend, Frank C. Girardot, a reporter for "The San Gabriel Valley Tribune", accessed files on the murder from the detectives with Los Angeles Police Department. During the course of "My Dark Places", as well as the afterword to a 2006 re-issue of his 1987 novel, "The Black Dahlia", Ellroy confesses that he felt sexually attracted to his mother and, among other things, that he tried to spy on her when she was having intercourse. His inability to come to terms with or understand these feelings led him to transfer them onto another murder victim, Elizabeth Short; throughout his youth, Ellroy used Short as a surrogate for his conflicting emotions and desires. [cite web |url=http://www.vqronline.org/articles/2006/summer/ellroy-mother-dahlia/ |date= Summer 2006 |accessdate=2007-05-07| title= "My Mother and the Dahlia" by James Ellroy|work= The Virginia Quarterly Review] These confusions led to a period of intense clinical depression, which he only gradually recovered from.

In his teens and twenties, Ellroy drank heavily, engaged in some crimes (especially shoplifting, house-breaking and burglary), and was often homeless. After serving some time in jail and suffering a bout of pneumonia, Ellroy stopped drinking and began working as a golf caddy while pursuing his writing. He later said, "Caddying was good tax-free cash and allowed me to get home by 2 p.m. and write books... I caddied right up to the sale of my fifth book." [cite web|url= http://www.cwru.edu/artsci/engl/marling/hardboiled/Ellroy.HTM|date=Case Western Reserve University, updated 2 August, 2001|accessdate=2007-05-07| title="James Ellroy (1948 - )" by William Marling |work=Hard-Boiled Fiction ]

He writes longhand on legal pads, rather than on a computer, and prepares elaborate outlines for his books that are several hundred pages long. In connection with "The Cold Six Thousand", Ellroy has said that he is through with "genre fiction" and plans to write mainstream novels.

Ellroy is an outspoken and unquestioning admirer of the Los Angeles Police Department, and he dismisses the department's flaws as aberrations, telling the "National Review" that the coverage of the Rodney King beating and Rampart police scandals were overblown by a biased liberal media. Although he generally appears to be a conservative, some of his habits and opinions are not typically conservative: He opposes the death penalty, favors gun control.

Before 1995, Ellroy lived in Los Angeles, California, having divorced his first wife. In 1995, he moved to Mission Hills, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City.

In July 2006, Ellroy wrote an autobiographical essay for the Sunday magazine of the "Los Angeles Times" in which he detailed his relationship with the city he had returned to (again) in early June 2006, and divulged that he is recently divorced from his second wife, Helen Knode, author of the 2003 novel "The Ticket Out". [cite web|url= http://www.latimes.com/features/printedition/magazine/la-tm-ellroy31jul30,0,1600869.story?coll=la-home-magazine |date= July 30, 2006|accessdate= 2007-05-07| title= "The Great Right Place: James Ellroy Comes Home" by James Ellroy|work= Los Angeles Times] He recently completed "Blood's a Rover",Fact|date=January 2008 the final (and reportedly longest) novel of his American Underworld Trilogy, which began with "American Tabloid" and "The Cold Six Thousand". "Blood's a Rover" is scheduled for release sometime in 2008.Fact|date=January 2008

Ellroy was disappointed by the film "Cop" (starring James Woods) as an adaptation of his 1984 novel, "Blood on the Moon". He was then more pleasently astonished by Curtis Hanson's adaptation of his 1992 novel "L.A. Confidential". In a 'making-of' documentary included on the L.A. Confidential DVD, he says that Hanson and Brian Helgeland, the film's screenwriters, "brilliantly adapted" his book and that he was "flabbergasted" by what was done with it. Prior to viewing the completed film of "The Black Dahlia" (based on his book of the same name) he had praised it as a brilliantly depicted film after watching hours of unedited footage. Ultimately, nearly an hour of its three-hour cut, linking events and facts together, was removed from the final version.

Recent work includes co-writing the screenplay for the upcoming film "Street Kings".

tyle and Themes

Ellroy is noted for a stripped-down hardboiled style, especially in his later books which rely on simple, staccato sentences in Dick and Jane style. For example: "Dawn came up. Wayne got in bed dressed. Lynette Stirred. Wayne played possum." [James Ellroy, "The Cold Six Thousand", Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2001. Pg. 150.]

Many of Ellroy's books, such as "The Big Nowhere", "L.A. Confidential", "American Tabloid", and "The Cold Six Thousand", have three disparate POV characters, with chapters alternating between them.

Starting with "The Black Dahlia", Ellroy's novels have been historical novels about the relationship of corruption and law enforcement.


* "I am a master of fiction. I am also the greatest crime novelist who ever lived. I am to the crime novel in specific what Tolstoy is to the Russian novel and what Beethoven is to music." [cite web|url= http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/05/magazine/05wwln_q4.html?ex=1320382800&en=546bff83e542b4b7&ei=5090|date= 5 November, 2006 |accessdate=2007-05-07| title= "The Mother Load: Questions for James Ellroy" Interview by Deborah Solomon |work= The New York Times Magazine]

* "These old blue haired grannies come up to me and say `Oh, you wrote L.A. Confidential, what a wonderful movie that was'. Kim Basinger' was so beautiful in that film, is she nice in real life?' I say, 'Yeah, she's all right', and then granny says, `Is Kevin Spacey really gay?'" [cite web|url= http://www.imdb.com/news/wenn/2001-05-11#celeb8|date= 11 May, 2001|accessdate=2007-05-07| title= "Author Defends Spacey's Privacy"|work= WENN (World Entertainment News Network)]


* 1981 "Brown's Requiem"
* 1982 "Clandestine"
* 1986 "Killer on the Road" (originally published as "Silent Terror")

Lloyd Hopkins Trilogy

* 1984 "Blood on the Moon"
* 1984 "Because the Night"
* 1985 "Suicide Hill"
* 1998 "L.A. Noir" (omnibus edition)

L.A. Quartet

* 1987 "The Black Dahlia"
* 1988 "The Big Nowhere"
* 1990 "L.A. Confidential"
* 1992 "White Jazz"

American Underworld Trilogy

* 1995 "American Tabloid"
* 2001 "The Cold Six Thousand"
* 2009 "Blood's a Rover"

Short Stories and Essays

* 1994 "Hollywood Nocturnes" (UK title: "Dick Contino's Blues and Other Stories")
* 1999 "Crime Wave"
* 2004 ""


* 1996 "My Dark Places"

Guest editor

* 2002 "The Best American Mystery Stories 2002"


* 1993 "James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction"
* 2001 "James Ellroy's Feast of Death"


* 1988 "Cop"
* 1997 "L.A. Confidential"
* 1998 "Brown's Requiem"
* 2002 "Stay Clean"
* 2002 "Dark Blue"
* 2006 "The Black Dahlia"
* 2008 "Street Kings"
* 2008 "Land of the Living"
* 2009 "White Jazz"


*1992 Since I Don't Have You adapted by Steven A. Katz for Showtime's Fallen Angels (TV series)


See also

* Dragnet (series)

External links

* [http://www.identitytheory.com/people/birnbaum13.html James Ellroy interviewed by Robert Birnbaum at identitytheory.com]
* [http://edition.cnn.com/2006/TRAVEL/02/03/losangeles.qa/ CNN interview with James Ellroy]
* [http://filmthreat.com/index.php?section=interviews&Id=1110 FilmThreat interview] by Tony DuShane
* [http://www.iblist.com/author576.htm James Ellroy] at the Internet Book List
* [http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2179298,00.html Ellroy on Dashiell Hammett]

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