Friday, January 17, 2014

Ellroy book got O.J. wrong

Contrary to "Sex, Glitz, and Greed: The Seduction of O.J. Simpson," in James Ellroy's Crime Wave, Simpson never rushed for 2,033 yards in a season. The correct figure for Simpson's record-breaking year (1973) is 2,003 yards.  The book's  introduction, by GQ's then-editor, Art Cooper, also notes the passion of Ellroy's Simpson essay, observing that
"Several months ago, James was in moral high dudgeon again, this time outraged at Bill Clinton's sexual dalliance with Monica Lewinsky and his rather bizarre pronouncement that a blow job really isn't sex. James was itching to rip Bubba, and I, perhaps unwisely, declined."
Why "rather bizarre"? Was Clinton's pronouncement bizarre, or wasn't it? And where's the introspection beyond the suggestion that Cooper "perhaps unwisely" declined Ellroy's offer to write about Clinton? A neutral observer might suspect fear or political partiality.

The Simpson piece is full of incisive observations that would be banned for their accuracy from family newspapers. My favorite:
"O.J. Simpson will have truly transcended race at that moment when Blacks and Whites get together and recognize him as a cowardly piece of shit who may or may not have murdered two innocent people and left two Black and White children devastated for the rest of their lives."
My other favorite moment so far in this 1999 collection of fiction and reporting reportage is what purports to be a 1998 article from the Advocate about the fictional columnist for Hush-Hush, Danny Getchell. Scandal sheets, according to the article, "destroyed the lives of many gay and lesbian Americans, and Hush-Hush was arguable the worst of the lot."

"Gay and lesbian Americans" suggests that Ellroy has a sharp ear, that he was ahead of the semantic curve (or that I was behind it). The story first appeared in GQ in 1998. I was surprised six years when New Jersey's then-governor, Jim McGreevey, told the state not "I am gay," but "My truth is that I am a gay American."

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Blogger Dana King said...

Ellroy fascinates me, even when he does his "Devil Dog" schtick. He writes some of the most racist and misogynistic characters I've ever read, yet seems to have none of those "qualities" himself. I used to think he was just nuts-and the guy who wrote The Cold Six Thousand may well have been--but he also seems to be someone who genuinely works through his demons, though his methods may seem unusual, at best.

January 17, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, I was interested to learn very recently that he opposes capital punishment (or has opposed it), not what one would expect of the right-wing persona he sometimes projects or at least makes fun of.

"Working through his demons" is right. He gets downright personal in some of the pieces in this book and elsewhere. I don't mean just his celebrated writing about his mother's killing, either. A piece about the accordion player Dick Contino is revealing as well.

January 17, 2014  

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