Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Clay lies still, but blood is a rover"

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, America is a lie, wrapped up in a deception, inside a thin shell of morality. And James Ellroy keeps taping that shell, testing for weak-points and showing us it is hollow. Do you have the stomach to see what they have been feeding us all this time?

Dig it: any bootlegger's son can become the President - assassination will automatically activate sanctification. Organized crime does not exist - but that never stopped it from running the country. And elections are not easy to fix - but, at least, they are easier to fix than the World Series.
Document Insert: the most powerful man fighting Communism is a cross-dressing director with a wiretap fetish - morality standards and irony galore. Dominican Republic is the new location-location-location for blackjack-tables and chorus-line girls - if el Jefe can voodoo-hex the slaves from revolting. And Tricky Dick's price is 5 million - uncontrolled scatology at no extra charge.
Careful now: infiltrate means collaborate; collaborate means condone; condone means finance; finance means plan; plan means precipitate - at which point did the investigation turn into instigation?

Blood 's a Rover is the third installment of the American-Underbelly trilogy (the masterpiece American Tabloid being the first and the excellent The Cold Six Thousand being the second). One does not necessarily have to read them in succession - but it surely helps. This is not an easy read, the story will serpent back and eat any one of its multiple tails, more than once. A second reading is recommended. And it will up the pixel-count of the images projected. In CinemaScope and Technicolor.

As the trilogy goes, this is the weakest of the three books, mostly because Ellroy hesitated in taking up major players with his brush painting the picture. Hoover and Nixon make cameo appearances - and sprinkles cannot be as filling as a square meal. I also missed the cool tabloid excerpts. The story is dark enough, some direct humor (even of the hush-hush kind) could be used.
Other than that, expect the familiar hard-boiled noir story. Where men are complicated and cruel yet witty and dames are desirable and decisive yet in constant distress. And no one is innocent.

There be time enough to sleep. For now, let James tell you (almost) everything.

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