Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: "Blood's a Rover" by James Ellroy

James Ellroy took dedicated readers on quite a ride through three very long, very taxing books with his Underworld USA trilogy, about a whirlwind time in American history where things were irrevocably changed, sometimes for the worst if you subscribe to Elroy’s twisted sense of the world. The first two novels, American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand dealt from the years 1958 to 1968, about the time of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King’s assassinations. The final novel Blood’s a Rover, covers the years 1968 to 1972, where the dream of the sixties was on its last decrepit leg. Like the other two novels, Ellroy utilizes his staccato style of prose; a little different than minimalism in the way it induces feelings of rhythm in the proceedings. It is used very well here, but my problem with this book, and one I had with the other three, lies with characterization. While everyone talks cool, with a brutal nihilistic tone, it is hard to decipher who is who and what an act of violence means. In this volume, Wayne Tedrow returns, after killing his father, and is followed by Dwight Holly and Don Crutchfield, both of whom have ties to organized crime, as the mafia tries to build casino’s in the Dominican Republic. Throughout the 650 pages, violence occurs almost off-handedly, and people use people in ways that make honor redundant. Easily the best part of this novel is the rendering of historical figures, such as a coked out Redd Foxx who deals drugs almost as much as he tells jokes, a returning J Edgar Hoover whose brushes with criminality will make you sick, and a delightfully funny Richard Nixon, whose casual racism comes off as buffoonery. Together, the three books acts as a very unique take on our recent history, but by themselves, they leave a lot to be desired.

Rating: 4/5

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