"We're self-absorbed and confuse our lives with history" Discuss
We should have had a child together.'
"Jack squeezed her arm, soft. `I remember the first time you said that.'
"`When was it?'
"`Fall '54. The Army-McCarthy hearings were on TV.'
"`Why do we remember things that way?'
"`Pure arrogance. We're self-absorbed and confuse our lives with history.'"
— James Ellroy, Blood's A Rover
That exchange comes near the end of James Ellroy's "Underworld U.S.A." trilogy of novels (previous volumes: American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand). The trilogy begins with an introductory note that reads, in part:
"America was never innocent. We popped our cherry on the boat over and looked back with no regrets. You can't ascribe our fall from grace to any single event or set of circumstances. ... Mass-market nostalgia gets you hopped up for a past that never existed. ... The real Trinity of Camelot was Look Good, Kick Ass, Get Laid. Jack Kennedy was the mythological front man for a particularly juicy slice of our history. He talked a slick line and wore a world-class haircut. He was Bill Clinton minus pervasive scrutiny and a few rolls of flab."Taking the two passages into consideration, how would you characterize Ellroy's view of history? Are the two selections consistent? Did Ellroy's conception of American history change from 1995, when American Tabloid appeared, to Blood's A Rover (2009)? Did Ellroy become more introspective, perhaps? Is the snippet of dialogue, set in 1972, from Blood's A Rover a rueful commentary on the tumultuous years covered by the book and on Americans' attitudes towards those years? Extra credit if you've read all three novels and can cite examples.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013