Wednesday September 23rd, 2009

Ellroy in Paris

paris-review-fall-09The new fall issue of The Paris Review features an interview with James Ellroy. In the excerpt available online, he trashes Raymond Chandler and praises Dashiell Hammett:

Chandler wrote the kind of guy that he wanted to be, Hammett wrote the kind of guy that he was afraid he was. Chandler’s books are incoherent. Hammett’s are coherent. Chandler is all about the wisecracks, the similes, the constant satire, the construction of the knight. Hammett writes about the all-male world of mendacity and greed. Hammett was tremendously important to me.

But what wisecracks and similes! Ellroy also accounts for himself during the years 1965-1975 — a section that is, er, not G-rated — and bemoans the focus of the attention he gets:

I’ve told many journalists that I’ve done time in county jail, that I’ve broken and entered, that I was a voyeur. But I also told them that I spent much more time reading than I ever did stealing and peeping. They never mention that. It’s a lot sexier to write about my mother, her death, my wild youth, and my jail time than it is to say that Ellroy holed up in the library with a bottle of wine and read books.