James Ellroy’s Bombastic Public Persona

James Ellroy’s bombastic public persona has earned him almost as much fame as his literary works. Outspoken and nihilistic, Ellroy often introduces himself as follows:

“Good evening peepers, prowlers, pederasts, panty-sniffers, punks and pimps. I'm James Ellroy, the demon dog, the foul owl with the death growl, the white knight of the far right, and the slick trick with the donkey dick. I'm the author of 16 books, masterpieces all; they precede all my future masterpieces. These books will leave you reamed, steamed and drycleaned, tie-dyed, swept to the side, true-blued, tattooed and bah fongooed. These are books for the whole fuckin' family, if the name of your family is the Manson Family.”

Furthermore, unlike many acclaimed writers, Ellroy is fully aware of his gift, and he will happily inform anyone who inquires of his talents and dominance of the crime fiction genre. In response to a question of whether he thought of himself as a crime writer or novelists, asked in a 2006 New York Times interview, Ellroy stated: “I am a master of fiction. I am also the greatest crime writer who ever lived. I am to the crime novel in specific what Tolstoy is to the Russian novel and what Beethoven is to music.”

In addition to his personal views of and comments on his writing, Ellroy also freely expresses his political beliefs, which generally range from anti-liberal to authoritarian. In a 2015 interview with Vice, he made remarks such as “oh, I always want more authority, brother,” and argued that police reform is unnecessary, even given major events such as the Michael Brown case. However, Ellroy often makes comments for shock value, so his political statements must often be understood with the knowledge that his public persona values shock over true representation of his real political beliefs.

Interesting and Entertaining Interviews with James Ellroy

In an Shortlist’s interview with Ellroy, the interviewer remarks that he “was warned [Ellroy] was a difficult interviewee” as Ellroy sped away mid-conversation. However, despite his unconventional interviewing style, Ellroy often gives journalists plenty of interesting quotes and content to publish.

Here are some of his best and most interesting quotes:

His intro to the Dalton Tumbo Doublebill:

“If each and every one of you buys 1000 copies, you will be able to have unlimited sex with each and every person on this earth that you desire every night for the rest of your lives. If each and every one of you buys 2000 copies of my books tonight, you will be able to have unlimited sex with each and every person on this earth that you desire every night for the rest of your lives and still get into heaven as the result of a special dispensation signed by me, The Reverend Ellroy. If each and every one of you buys 3000 copies of my books tonight, you get all that sex, you get into heaven, and—for the first time in its tortured, left, queer counterculture existence—San Francisco will rule the world!”

On his right-wing tendencies, via The Rolling Stone:

“Right-wing tendencies? I do that to fuck with people. I thought Bush was a slimebag and the most disastrous American president in recent times. I voted for Obama. He's a lot like Jack Kennedy – they both have big ears and infectious smiles. But Obama is a deeper guy.”

On his tumultuous teenage years, via The Guardian:

"I felt incongruous and uneasy in my own skin. I was tall and gangly and had very bad acne and very few social skills. And at home things were bad. There was dog shit all over the floor."

On his new Second L.A. Quartet, via Shortlist:

“The new quartet takes characters both fictional and real, major and minor, from the first quartet and the trilogy, but places them in LA during the Second World War. It’s the month of Pearl Harbor, 6-29 December 1941. It seamlessly takes the quartet and trilogy, adds four novels, and makes my oeuvre as a historical novelist one inextricable 11-novel whole. And although the story is very much about the injustice of the internment of the Japanese – most of them innocent – let me say, and this is very un-PC, the f*cking internment was not the Holocaust or the Soviet Gulag.”

On whether L.A. is still a “perv zone,” via Vice:

“Yeah, it's still a perv zone, but it's not a perv zone I recognize anymore or find any way to engage in. I was five years old in 1953, so I wasn't seeing much of anything, but I live in my imagination as far as LA and the Los Angeles Police Department goes. I don't dig the LA that I see anymore.”

On quitting Facebook, via Birth. Movies. Death.:

“Dear FB Friends, Fuck Facebook!!!!!—It has proven to be worthless as a book-selling device, and is nothing but a repository for perverts, reparation-seekers, old buddies looking for handouts, syphillitic ex-girlfriends looking for extra-curricular schlong and hack writers begging for blurbs. For those looking for the REAL Ellroy shit, go to my wigged-out website: JamesEllroy.net. Sayonara, Motherfuckers!!!”