Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Effusing About Writing

If for no other reason that this passage made me smile both for its humour and its sheer storytelling and stylistic craft, here's James Ellroy from page 180-181 of My Dark Places:

Bunny West grew up rich in Pasadena. She married a man named Robert Krauch in the late '50s and had four kids by him. Krach was a reporter for the LA Herald. His father was a big cheese with the paper.

Bunny West was beautiful. She was kindhearted and pathologically cheerful. Robert Krauch was possessive and ill-tempered. Everybody liked Bunny. Nobody liked Robert.

The Krauches moved to Playa del Rey in the early '60s. They bought a beautiful beachfront home. Robert developed a bad reputation. People considered him eccentric. He rode his bicycle around Playa del Rey and put out hostile vibes.

Marina del Rey was the new hip enclave. It was just a mile north of Playa. It featured boat slips and yachts and lots of groovy bars and restaurants.

Charlie Brown's opened up in '68. It was a freewheeling bar and steakhouse with a swinging clientele. The waitresses were all stone foxes. They wore lowcut tops and short dresses. The manager dug the LA Lakers. He sucked up to the players and got his girls dates with them. Charlie Brown's became a big sports hangout.

Bunny Krauch got a waitress job there. She worked the late shift and quit around midnight. She started living a separate life away from her family.

Charlie Brown's swung hard. The waitresses were always dodging passes. Bunny Krauch got pawed and groped every night.

This Don guy was the King of the Gropers. He worked as a bug exterminator. He was unattractive and well into his fifties. The waitresses loathed him. He became Bunny Krauch's lover. Nobody could figure them out.

Don was 20 years older than Bunny. Don was disgusting. Don was a flagrant ass-pincher and a drunk.

The affair went on for three years. Don and Bunny met at a motel on Admiralty Way. They met at Charlie Brown's and other restaurants in the Marina. They were not discreet. Bunny's friends knew the score. Robert Krauch did not.

Robert got a vasectomy. Bunny said she wanted to stay on the pill. The pill regulated her period.

Robert did not get the picture.

Imagine 351 pages of that and you get a good idea about how addictive reading James Ellroy can become.


  1. James Elroy really influenced my D&D games.

    1. My RPGs in general actually, mainly when it comes to NPCs. Everybody knowing everybody, everybody having their own agenda, everyone constantly planning something, everybody motivated.

  2. Christ. I just realized I've always thought James Elroy and Elmore Leonard are/were the same writer. And I've read a bunch of Leonard's novels!

    I've always been put out by Leonard fans comparing him favourably to Raymond Chandler. I like Leonard okay, but I don't think he holds a candle to Chandler.

    But now I'm concerned that it's in fact Elroy who's the subject of the comparison and that I've dismissed him without giving him a chance. I guess I have to read his stuff now.

    1. I'm just coming to an end of My Dark Places. I recommend it most highly.