American Tabloid by James Ellroy…


ellroy-american-tabloid

American Tabloid is about bad men doing bad things to ensure that the history turns out just the way they want it to. And they are not afraid of doing sordid, dreadful, despicable, immoral (if not often contradictory) things to shape up history to their vision. Theirs is not the glorious pages of the history: the made-up moral conflicts, the glamorization or the idolization of the meek. They linger in the grimy shadows that helped lead history to its overblown glamorization. They don’t make the headlines. They exist between the lines, always ensuring the existence of the next one. In this world, there is no room for loyalty and every character abandons/kills/ maims/ exploits/ betrays at one point or another. But while they tend to exploit everyone around them, they must realize that there are some people who are hard to exploit; who got to their places in life by exploiting and not by being exploited. And they will realize that however competent the manipulation is, however predictable they might be, however hard the strings are, people would not always act as desired and the surprises that they deliver can be most nasty.
As a triple agent, a shakedown goon and a vengeful phantom plan on shaping the history and making money while at it, as most often it does, it shapes them. Whatever their intention may be: power, money, status, vengeance, they would realize that often the manipulator ends up being manipulated and when that happens, it won’t be pretty or what they envisioned it would be.
While Ellroy paints an unflinchingly violent, profane and dark world with his prose, owing to his style, the first half takes some getting used to. It is also wildly different from his Black Dahlia style so much so that it could be jarring at first. Especially the over repetitive narrative of Pete Bondurant, which pissed me off even though I knew it was supposed to be an insight peek of his thinking process(as hard as that is). But it gets better as Ellroy ditches that for a more impersonal narrative in the later part. While it might have been better should he had did that from the start, the last hundred or so pages more than makes up for all of it. American Tabloid could be the ideal book to start reading Ellroy.
Rating: 4/5.

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