As much as I transferred my mother to Elizabeth Shore of The Black Dahlia, as much as her dad mutated into an obsession with crime in general, well, I have thought about other things throughout the years.— James Ellroy
The most special James Ellroy quotes to discover and learn by heart
Anybody who doesn't know that politics is crime has got a few screws loose.
I would like to provoke ambiguous responses in my readers.
Tell me anything. Tell me everything. Revoke our time apart. Love me fierce in danger.
L.A.: Come on vacation, go home on probation.
I am a writer. I could not afford to take 15 months off from my writing career to play detective.
The wildest ride in modern crime novel exoticum.
A novel so steeped in milieu that it feels as if you've blasted to mars in the grip of a demon who won't let you go. Read this book, savor the language-it's the last-and the most compelling word in thrillers.
I've been tremendously moved by a bunch of odd books.
Ross McDonald is very important to me. I love the Lew Archer books.
I learn things late-and only the hard way.
Some people don’t respond to civility.
Where’s your sketch pad?” I asked.
… “I gave that up,” Kay said. “I wasn’t very good, so I changed my major.” “To what?” “To pre-med, then psychology, then English lit, then history.” “I like a woman who knows what she wants.” Kay smiled. “So do I, but I don’t know any.
L.A. ispolluted. It's overpopulated. But it is very much home. It was inevitable for me, the moving back. I was living in San Francisco, and Joan broke it off with me, and I needed a place to live. I'd been divorced. And I needed to write movies and TV shows to earn a living. Alimony. All that. So I figured what the hell, I'll go back to L.A.
I don't know anybody in the underworld. I make this stuff up. I don't know any criminals.
I begin by assembling notes on characters. Large swaths of the plot become clear to me as I do this.
I like to be alone so I can write. But focus can hurt you. I don't want to be some stress casualty in early middle age.
I'm not interested in popular culture.
I hate Quentin Tarantino. I rarely go to movies. I hate rock 'n' roll. I work. I think. I listen to classical music. I brood. I like sports cars.
I am the most well-adjusted human being I know.
I started out this investigation as a very happy man with a great career. I've got the life people dream about: I am rich, I am famous, I've got a fabulous marriage to an absolutely, spell-bindingly brilliant woman.
I think I'm out of crime fiction now, and I think the dividing line is American Tabloid.
As critical acclaim and response has built up, every interview I give is a chance to puncture the myth I've created about my work and refine it.
When I was a kid, Eisenhower had been President forever, and all of a sudden, everything in the world was all about Jack Kennedy. I was 12, interested in politics; my father was from Massachusetts, had an accent like Kennedy.
Every one of my books is written from the viewpoint of cops, with the exception of my book Killer on the Road, which is written from the viewpoint of a serial killer.
Noir is dead for me because historically, I think it's a simple view.
I've taken it as far as it can go. I think I've expanded on it a great deal, taken it further than any other American novelist.
I was in L.A. in '08. It was a cold Saturday night. I had spread my phone number out to a score of women and was just indulging this sweet, sad, elegiac, bale loneliness - don't tell me you haven't been there.
And the only forms of socialism in the world that were then getting results - malign ones, as it was - were the Fascist and Soviet republics. Fascism is a form of socialism - you rebuild the country, you find a scapegoat, and you go from there.
I don't have children. I serve the world and I serve God by living as deep within my work as I can, reveling in the language of other times and putting it forth for the world.
Raymond Chandler once wrote that Dashiell Hammett gave murder back to the people who really committed it.
I don't have a cellphone or a computer.
I deliberately circumscribe my mental life within the periods that I write about, and the power of Perfidia is that it's the result of complete immersion. I was there for the two years that it took me to write that book.
My father actually went to college, and my mother went to nursing school, so, you know. I wouldn't... They were actually too square and right-wing to be hip, too well-educated to be white trash, too sexy to be square. They really didn't fit any mold. They weren't really hipsters. They were just - they were two of a kind, those two.
I cleaned up. I quit drinking, I quit doing drugs, I quit stealing, I quit breaking into houses, I tried to quit being a bad human being. I developed a conscience later in life than many. I call it the lost-time-regained dynamic.
Dead people belong to the live people who claim them most obsessively.
And you love to read, you love to escape, right?
I wanted to portray a newly democratized, enclosed society.
I wanted to show how extraordinarily fluid people are in their embrace of other human beings.
You try to learn who you are. You work hard. You've either got it or you don't when it comes to writing books. And you tend to only get these things if you want them, and want them to the exclusion of everything else.
Closure is a preposterous concept worthy of the worst aspects of American daytime TV.
The lunatic populism that preceded the Pearl Harbor bombing is astonishing in its permutations, its crisscrossings. Guys like [Catholic priest and controversial radio broadcaster] Father Coughlin and [racist and anti-Semitic agitator and founder of the Christian Nationalist Crusade] Gerald L.K. Smith started out as share-the-wealth socialists.
Other people, some other writers, will win certain accolades or sell in far greater numbers than me - and I'm a legitimate best-selling author - but I live and die for the work. That's thrilling to me. It's thrilling that I do for others what certain writers did for me when I was a kid.
I put on such a good show, the story is outrageous, and people don't want to hear that I'm basically a reasonable human being. As long as it continues to get me print, I'll continue to perform in an exuberant manner.
Cats gotta scratch. Dogs gotta bite. I gotta write.
Anything less than total candor was bullshit.
I owed that to my readers, I owed that to myself, and I owed that most specifically to my mother. I've had some thrilling moments in my 18-year literary career to this point, and nothing comes close to giving Geneva Hilliker Ellroy, the farm girl from Tunnel City, Wisconsin, to the world.
I want to have enough data, so I won't write myself into thin air, so that I can extrapolate and give you this secret human infrastructure. The only way I sate my own curiosity is to create this from scratch. There must be commanding love stories. There must be great moral cost.
Some men get the world, some men get ex-hookers and a trip to Arizona.
You're in with the former, but my God I don't envy the blood on your conscience.
I was a WASP kid going to a high school that was 99 percent Jewish and I wanted attention and I wanted to make a spectacle of myself because I couldn't stand to be ignored.
I kept saying, "Stop me now. It's going to my head." I got some photos. Really, I did! It's not my noblest sexual self in these moments, but I want to have fun. I want to undress. I get off my leash to go out and perform. Some other writers are just discomforted by the way I behave in public. Because they're loath to perform.
Joe Wambaugh's a friend. I know him only casually, but I like him a lot. I think he likes my books.
Rock and rollers can get you the youth buzz, and younger people are fanatical readers.
I always cringe when a male friend of mine, who's very fixated on women, puts "compatibility" at the top of his list of attributes that he would be looking for in a woman. I would replace compatibility with dialectic.
Sometimes I'll leave the house and go to a delicatessen down the street from me - it's been there a million years - just because I can look at people.
In the time just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when Perfidia opens, we were pre-psychologized. There were no concepts of identity, no politics of victimization. Reparation wasn't in the language. Nobody thought about giving the great grandchildren of black slaves so much as $1.98. And all of a sudden the bombs hit, interventionism versus isolationism became a dead issue, and it was us-versus-them in a heartbeat.
My mother and I will continue on some level that I haven't determined yet.
I think my mother's a great character, and I have to say that giving my mother to the world has to be the biggest thrill of my writing career.
How did I change my life? I wanted things. I wanted women and I wanted to write books.