Thursday, January 02, 2014

Comments on and one correction to James Ellroy's American Tabloid

1) The item of jewelry one pins to one's clothing, sometimes as a fastener, is a brooch, no matter how many times American Tabloid spells it broach.

2) I don't like pat critical phrases, but American Tabloid really is compulsively readable. I've tried to get to bed early the past few nights, slipping under the covers by 2 a.m., intending to read a few pages, then get up early and work the next day, but I was still reading at 4 and 5 a.m. Here are a few examples of what makes the novel so much fun:
"Hoffa said ` ... don't make Kennedy sound like Jesus handing God the Ten Commandments on Mount Fucking Vesuvius.' 
"Ryskind said, `Santo was just making a point.' 
"Rosselli said, `It's Mount Ararat, Jimmy. Mount Vesuvius is in fucking Yellowstone Park.'"
*
— A list of Marilyn Monroe's lovers, as turned up by FBI surveillance, that includes "David Seville of David Seville and the Chipmunks," but not John F. Kennedy.
*
"Kemper sat down. `You speak excellent English, too.' 
"`I speak the slow and exaggeratedly formal English of the laboriously self-taught. Native speakers tell me that I sometimes lapse into hilarious malapropisms and mutilations of their language.' 
"Stanton pulled a chair up. `Would you mind talking with us now? We've got a nice apartment ready for you, and Mr. Boyd will drive you there in a little while.' 
"Paez bowed. `I am at your disposable.'"
See you soon. I have work to do.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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12 Comments:

Blogger seana graham said...

Peter, I was just reading what seems to be an otherwise carefully researched book and was surprised to see the author refer to the Munro Doctrine. I actually had to check it just now to be sure I hadn't just imagined that it was James Monroe who had introduced the idea to the nation. The author can be excused because he lives in Sydney, but I don't really think that applies to the editor.

January 02, 2014  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

Ouch. The "broach" thing would bother me, too.

January 02, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, maybe he had in mind Alice Munro's literary principles

The editor cannot be excused, but the blame ultimately rests with the publisher, who is responsible for making sure the product is as good as possible, even if that means paying top-flight copy editors and proofreaders.

January 02, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

Agreed. It's the publisher's baby.

I don't know if Alan Glynn would like to know, though, that James Ellroy is the king of him.

January 02, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

James Ellroy is such a performer that who knows what he would claim to be king of? If my computer lets me, I will post a corrected version. I have proofreaders out there in the ether.

January 02, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kelly, I have to compartmentalize my thinking on this (compartmentalizing figures prominently in the novel, by the way. Ellroy is a kind of Alan Glynn when it comes to highlighting the ethical shortcuts that make their way into popular speech. Though the two authors' tones are very different, a reader who likes one might well like both). The repeated brooch/broach mistake is inexcusable, but the novel is so good that I want to praise one even as I call derisive attention to the other.

January 02, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

Looks like you solved it. Good thing too, as no one wants to get on the wrong side of Alan Glynn. He knows where the bodies are buried.

January 02, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And Ellroy probably knows the guys who buried them.

January 02, 2014  
Blogger Dana King said...

I see this "brooch/broach" kind of thing more all the time. What's truly disturbing is when I see it in books written by people I know would have done it right. Somewhere between them sending it in and the final print being set, it must have gotten changed. We send documents electronically now; there's no need to hand set the type. Where do these errors creep in?

January 03, 2014  
Anonymous Mike Dennis said...

It's my favorite of all Ellroy novels.

January 03, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

One can never assume that someone would have done it right. The most careful and most literate of writers can have momentary slips.

I worry less about where errors creep in than I do about what is not being done to take them out.

January 03, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Mike: I finished reading American Tabloid this afternoon, about a week after I read Blood's A Rover. Now, if I can only find my copy of The Cold Six Thousand.

January 03, 2014  

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