Monday, July 31, 2006

Ellroy on Ellroy: Return to Los Angeles

Author James Ellroy has never been quite right, but he's been quite good. As a boy, his mother was murdered after a likely sexual tryst with a strange man in Los Angeles. As a man, Ellroy became became obsessed with solving the case and exploring his darker Oedipal spaces.

The result was a book, "My Dark Places," one of the best examples of intimate true crime ever written. Last weekend, Ellroy wrote about returning to Los Angeles in the Los Angeles Times' West Magazine. He wrote, in part:

I was midway through a three-year crack-up. It was the upshot of long transits of overwork and emotional seepage held in check by near-insane ambition. Brutal sleeplessness and panic attacks. Sobbing jags and weightless plummets. It was a six-week hotel stay. My alleged L.A. agenda: take a neurofeedback course to curb insomnia. My real L.A. mission: hide out and seek safety in the wild-ass place that made me. ... This essay is a travel document and a homecoming brief. It will stand as my final autobiographical statement. The gist is simple: My birthplace made me, I ran away, I ran back.
If you've ever wanted a glimpse behind a tortured soul, a creative presence and a guy who just wants something he's never really had, click through to Ellroy's essay.

Photo by Damon Winter / LATimes

2 comments:

Chancelucky said...

I'm not a huge Ellroy fan but definitely admire his work. In some ways I thought he was the last author whose work could be translated to the movies, but they did a very good job with LA Confidential and I really liked White Jazz.

Ron, you and I first encountered one another when we both posted about the JT Leroy hoax. It's an odd coincidence that she chose the name JT Leroy, a near anagram of James Ellroy, and made up a persona with a dark/sad backstory.

I assume it was an accident, but it was an insult to the real life and writing of James Ellroy.

Ron Franscell said...

Now I hadn't considered that JT Leroy/James Ellroy anagram! Very weird.

Ellroy's "Black Dahlia" is coming out in September as a Brian de Palma film. It will be interesting to see how it's done.