Photo credit: Jennifer Carroll
About James Ellroy
A master of noir crime fiction, Ellroy has up-close and personal knowledge of the world of crime. His life, detailed in his memoir, My Dark Places, has been shadowed by a gruesome event: the unsolved murder of his mother when he was a child. Her murder unleashed a force that has propelled Ellroy’s work. He has channeled his anguish and transformed himself into an outsize public persona: an audacious, uncompromising, and unapologetic chronicler of humanity’s dark side. James Ellroy is masterly at speaking, and his own backstory is as riveting as any in fiction.
His latest book, Perfidia, is a novel of astonishments, describing World War II as readers have never seen it and Los Angeles as James Ellroy has never written it before. As a novelist, screenwriter, essayist, and memoirist, James Ellroy is more closely identified with Los Angeles than any writer since Raymond Chandler. Nearly all of his writing is set in L.A., in the rough, racist, pre-Miranda Los Angeles of the decade following World War II. Four of his novels—The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential (an Academy Award–winning movie), and White Jazz—are collectively known as the L.A. Quartet. His novels American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, and Blood’s a Rover form the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy. American Tabloid and his memoir, My Dark Places, were each named as Time magazine’s Best Book of the Year (1995 and 1996, respectively).
Curtis Hanson directed the blockbuster film adaptation of L.A. Confidential (1997) in which, as in the book, everything is suspect, everyone is for sale, and nothing is what it seems. The Black Dahlia, directed by Brian De Palma, was released in 2006. Ellroy himself has been the subject of seven documentary films, including Feast of Death, by Academy Award–winning filmmaker Vikram Jayanti.
Cauldron: L.A. after the War
Ellroy says, “This jazzy lecture—spieled entirely in my alliterative, syncopated verbal style—is a deft and hilarious recounting of post–World War II Los Angeles, replete with police scandals, baffling sex murders, political chicanery, land grabs, labor battles, and witch hunts.”
Film Noir: The Shadowed Inferno
“This lecture,” says Ellroy, “is no less than a cultural history of Los Angeles and America at large from 1945 to 1960. It's bombastic, it's profane, it's full of grotesque characters from the most scrutinized genre of worldwide cinema. Bent cops, nymphos, corrupt D.A.'s, hop-head jazz musicians, and homosexual informants abound.”
Memoir as Madness and Moral Mission
“This provocative lecture is an actual how-to primer on the memoir form, as exemplified by my own two Knopf/Vintage memoirs, My Dark Places and The Hilliker Curse, as well as a treatise on the reader/writer symbiosis that results in that powerful memoir alchemy. This lecture is wild juju—and a gassy look at my own tortured and transcendent soul!”
Praise for James Ellroy
Praise for Perfidia
[Perfidia] is a war novel like no other. It’s complicated, and the author wouldn’t have it any other way. There's no telling the good guys from the bad in Ellroy’s Los Angeles, because there are no good guys. . . . Ellroy is not only back in form—he’s raised the stakes.— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A return to the scene of Ellroy’s greatest success and a triumphant return to form. . . . His character portrayals have never been more nuanced or—dare we say it—sympathetic. . . . A disturbing, unforgettable, and inflammatory vision of how the men in charge respond to the threat of war. It’s an ugly picture, but just try looking away.— Booklist (starred review)
Perfidia is a brilliant, breakneck ride. Nobody except James Ellroy could pull this off. He doesn't merely write—he ignites and demolishes.— Carl Hiaasen
Praise for The Hilliker Curse
Forceful and unsparing in its revelations. . . . Marvelous fury, passion and energy.— San Francisco Chronicle
A remarkable memoir . . . Once again . . . Ellroy [has] come up with the goods.— The Economist
Books by James Ellroy
Media About James Ellroy
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- James Ellroy travels from Denver, CO