L.A. is my Ellroy: Fiction, setting, and history
"Canter's Deli in Fairfax. The 3:00 a.m. clientele: cops and ultra-soiled hippies."I was there!!! though not at 3 a.m., and the clientele I most remember were two middle-aged working guys who did not look Jewish but who nonetheless gave the waiter a lesson in Yiddish.
Ellroy's earlier novel, The Black Dahlia, dating from a time when his books were much closer to conventional crime writing than they became, includes a long scene that, having read Kevin Starr's California, I now know was based on the Zoot Suit Riots.
Ellroy gets tons of publicity for his eccentricities and his dark past. Less noticed is his fascination with the history of Los Angeles. He may thrive on depravity, greed, and perversion, but he wants to get the historical details right. And now your questions, Part I: What novels and stories, crime or otherwise, are inextricably bound up with their settings? What stories make you feel like you're there? How do they accomplish this? (And what cities or other settings make you feel like you're in the middle of a story?)
And Part II: Ellroy has peopled his more recent novels with historical figures and built them around historical events. Is his work historical fiction? Why? Why not?
© Peter Rozovsky 2013