The man is capable of great hyperbole and verbal music, but I believe his invocation of the titanic Beethoven was sincere, and it was certainly quite moving. How can he, Ellroy, complain, he said, when Beethoven wrote such music while mired in poverty and imprisoned by deafness?
"What about Thomas Pynchon and Inherent Vice?" someone asked.
"SNORE!" replied Ellroy.
"Why did you end the Underworld U.S.A. trilogy just before Watergate?" someone else (me) asked.
"Watergate?" said Ellroy. "The biggest SNORE! since Thomas Pynchon."
In short, Ellroy gave the happiest, most buoyant, most joyously self-aggrandizing performance I can remember from an author, perhaps because of a new love whom he mentioned several times and to whom he blew a kiss as he took the stage. And yet he was capable of moments of great earnestness, as with Beethoven, or in reply to the inevitable question about his writing process. Such a question often induces groans. Here, Ellroy somberly outlined his procedure: For Blood's a Rover, his new book, a four-hundred page outline, research reports, then sitting down and making the stuff up.
Of special interest, perhaps, was his answer to the questioner who asked "Why Los Angeles" as the archetypal noir city?
"Because Raymond Chandler wrote there," he said, and because that's where the movie studios were, and that's where the great films noirs were made.
More, perhaps, to come.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009