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Culture & Religion

Is America Going Crazy, Or Am I Living Inside A James Ellroy Novel?

I don’t know whether it was the impeachment effort against Georgia’s attorney general, or the arrest of the Hutaree militia terrorists, or the Army doctor who refuses to obey military commands because he does not believe the president is a citizen, or the billboards against Obama erected by conservative businessmen that advertise their discontent with the president — in any case, it was one of these or the dozens of acts like them lately that got me to thinking I might really be living inside of a James Ellroy novel instead of real life.

Best known for his novels L.A. Confidential and White Jazz, Ellroy’s prose is often profane, insane, and gratuitously politically incorrect, a description which would be apt for much of the mass hysteria that surrounds the presidency of one Barack Hussein Obama Jr. The introduction to Ellroy’s American Tabloid, which gives a reader fair warning that they are about to take a walk on the wild side, describes today’s political atmosphere better than any network news anchor.

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, You can’t lose what you lacked at conception.

Mass market nostalgia gets you hopped up for a past that never existed. Hagiography sanctifies shuck-and-jive politicians and reinvents their expedient gestures as moments of great moral weight. Our continuing narrative line is blurred past truth and hindsight. Only a reckless verisimilitude can set that line straight.

from American Tabloid

I actually picked up the book last night and began to reread it. Ellroy uses short, punchy, declarative sentences to rewrite the events surrounding the Kennedy presidency and the years leading up to it from a conspiracy-minded insider’s point of view. With a cast of characters that included fictional versions of J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, Joseph Kennedy Sr., Jimmy Hoffa, Jack Ruby, the CIA, and the FBI, the author rendered an environment as tense and as subversive and as unbelievable as the real life events we see happening out in the open these days.

The main motivations in American Tabloid, and the elements that probably had me thinking about this book are greed, hatred and violence.  The difference between the 60’s and today, though, should chill any conspiracist’s heart – the American public is now willing to do the kind of things out in the open that once only took place in back alleys, back rooms, or under the cover of night.


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