The Well-Tempered Ear

Crime novelist James Ellroy digs classical music — loves Beethoven, hates Brahms

September 28, 2009
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By Jacob Stockinger

His opinions about music are as strong as the content and language in his bestselling crime novels.

He is James Ellroy (a photo by the Associated Press is at below right) , the bestselling high-ego Los Angeles-based writer whose work  echoes his “noir” aesthetic and point of view.JamesEllroy

Two of his novels have been made into movies (“LA Confidential”) and he has written books about the “Black Dahlia” murder and the unsolved murder of his mother “My Dark Places”).

He is known as a man of big, even outsized appetites, especially for drink (now well in the past) and women (ever-present).

And he is a fascinating character, worthy of being in his own fiction.

I am not a big Ellroy reader, though I like what I’ve read. But quite by accident he crossed my path twice this week.

The first is the interview about writing (in the “Art of Fiction” series) in the latest Paris Review, Issue 190, Fall 2009, now available on the market. It’s a fascinating piece of interviewing that gets into detail about his life and his work. Here’s a link:

But an even more usual and tightly focused interview, and more fascinating to me, is one by Timothy Mangan , who wrote his story in a pastiche of Ellroy’s hard-bitten, prose staccato style, that appeared in the Orange County Register newspaper (Orange County is near LA). It shows that Ellroy’s has  a well developed, even refined (an odd sounding description when applied to Ellroy)  taste in music — especially classical music, especially Beethoven — and shows how it relates to his writing, including his new novel “Blood’s a Rover.”

If you’ve read “American Tabloid” or “White Jazz” or “The Big Nowhere,” you know that Ellroy is a man given to strong flavors and strong opinions.

Find out what he think of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Bruckner, Brahms, Bartok and Prokofiev among others. Here is a link to that story:

Let us know if you are a James Ellroy fan and what you think of his opinions about classical music.

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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