Posts Tagged ‘Blood’s A Rover’


James Ellroy Previews “Blood’s A Rover”

September 20, 2009

ellroycoverOn Tuesday, September 22, Alfred A. Knopf will publish James Ellroy‘s Blood’s A Rover, the third and final installment of the Underworld USA novels that began with American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand. The new book is not only a fine finish to that trilogy but also strikes me as both Ellroy’s most ambitious novel (drawing on seven different perspectives) and the most accessible entry into the trilogy. As with its predecessors, Blood’s A Rover continues to explore how private lives can impact very public and highly political events, spanning in this case from the aftermath of the King and Kennedy assassinations to the eve of the Watergate break-ins. But this new book is also, at its heart, a love story, with each of the three leading men — Wayne Tedrow Jr., employed by Howard Hughes; Dwight Holly, reporting to J. Edgar Hoover; and Don Crutchfield, a window peeper turned obsessive investigator — falling under the spell of women, including a radical liberal activist, Joan Rosen Klein, who may stand as the most complex female character in all the author’s books.

Later this week, the Washington Post Book World will podcast my recent phone interview with Ellroy; I’ll post that link as soon as it’s available. Then on Saturday, September 26, at 7 p.m., Ellroy will make his only D.C.-area appearance at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland — the closing night headliner of the 2009 Fall for the Book Festival. (I’ll be there; shouldn’t you too?) In the meantime, I’m glad to preview that more formal interview and that upcoming reading with a quick conversation that Ellroy and I had earlier this summer, offering insights both into the book and into the man behind it.

Art Taylor: Blood’s a Rover marks a magnificent end to the Underworld USA trilogy, a crowning achievement for sure. Had you seen these books as a trilogy from the very beginning?

James Ellroy

James Ellroy

James Ellroy: I knew the second novel would be my big novel of the 1960s. The history was easy to foresee: the civil rights movement, the ultimate assassination of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, more Cuban exile shit, more mob shit, Howard Hughes buying up Las Vegas, general civil rights unrest, the Klan, and my two survivors from American Tabloid, Ward Littell and Pete Bondurant, getting further into the shit. It took longer to put Blood’s A Rover together, because going from ’68 to ’72, you’re going to have the summer of the political conventions and the ’68 election and all that hoo-ha, but my mob guys had to get to a cool locale, and it took me a while to come up with the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It’s full of voodoo, which is cool shit and certainly intensifies all the black militant shit in L.A.
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