Publication Order of Lloyd Hopkins Books
Publication Order of L.A. Quartet Books
Publication Order of Underworld U.S.A. Books
Publication Order of Standalone Novels
Publication Order of Short Stories
Publication Order of Short Story Collections
Publication Order of Best American Mystery Stories Anthologies
Publication Order of Anthologies
Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books
James Ellroy was born under the name of Lee Earle Ellroy on March 4, 1948 in the city of Los Angeles, California. He is best known for his distinct style of writing in which he frequently omits connecting words and uses short staccato sentences. Ellroy’s most notable works are in the genres of crime fiction and historical fiction even though he occasionally ventured in some areas as well.
Ellroy lived the first years of his life in Los Angeles, California with both his parents, Geneva (who was a nurse) and Armand (who was an accountant). After his parent’s divorce, Ellroy was forced to move with his mother to El Monte, California. As it turned out, that would be the first chapter of his unfortunate childhood. When Ellroy was 10 years old, Geneva (his mother) was brutally raped and murdered, in a case that today is still unsolved. After his mother’s murder, Ellroy suffered from clinical depression and adverse emotions all throughout his childhood. During his 20s, his life wasn’t any better. He started drinking heavily and was often homeless or in jail due to minor crimes such as shoplifting or burglary. Given all he had seen in his tender age, his life appeared full of emptiness and he sought solace in what he believed would act as a distraction from the memories of his past. As if it wasn’t enough, he developed an abscess on his lung, big enough it could be compared to a large man’s fist. After successfully recovering, that close call opened his eyes and Ellroy stopped drinking and became a golf caddy. He also started perusing a career in writing at the same time. He would caddy in the morning and write in the afternoon. Ellroy eventually stopped caddying until his fifth book was published. As of today, James Ellroy is still active in the literary scene and has a massive popularity in United States and in France. Recently he made important donations to the victims of terrorist attacks in Paris.
The devastating childhood that Ellroy lived has been a major influence in his writing style. It is no surprise that most of his books are crime, mystery or noir fiction. Another important event that shaped Ellroy’s writing career was the book “The Badge” by Jack Webb, which was an early birthday gift from his father. This book talks about sensational cases from the files of the Los Angeles Police Department, a subject that Ellroy would eventually write about in his future books.
In 1981, “Brown’s Requiem” Ellroy’s first novel was published. It narrated the story about of detective story, which was based on his own experience as a caddy. Some of his other early books were also greatly influenced by his early life. “Clandestine” and “Killer on the Road” added to his repertoire of early mystery novels. It wouldn’t be until his highly successful “The Lloyd Hopkins” Trilogy were he would make a name for himself and earn a cult following. The trilogy consisted of “Blood on the Moon”, “Because the Night” and “Suicide Hill” which would narrate the story of Lloyd Hopkins, a very intelligent and sexually addicted Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective. However, it wouldn’t be until the “L.A Quarter” were Elliot earned commercial and critical success. The “L.A Quarter” consisted of “The Black Dahlia”, “The Big Nowhere”, “L.A Confidential” and “White Jazz” and they were a sequence of crime fiction novels. Most importantly, they represented Ellory’s transformation of writing style from noir fiction to historiography metafiction. One of his most notable novels, the “Black Dahlia” fused the real-life murder of Elizabeth Short and fictional police officers investigating her murder.
Being well recognized in the literature world, Ellroy released in 1995 “American Tabloid” which would receive critical acclaim, it was named TIME’S fiction book of the year. It described the “secret history” of the United States in the 20th century. After the critical success of “American Tabloid”, Elliot published its follow-up “The Cold Six Thousand” which became a bestseller. The third and final novel of this trilogy (which was named Underworld USA Trilogy) was released in 2009, under the name “Blood’s a Rover”.
One of Elliot’s most personally significant books was his autobiography, “My Dark Places” which is based on the memories of his mother’s murder. Together with a reporter named Frank C. Girardot and detective Bill Stoner, Ellroy gathered the files of LAPD of his mother’s murder and after fifteen months gave up the case believing ay suspect had to be dead by the time.
Many of Ellroy’s books have been adapted to the seventh art. The most notable one was “L.A Confidential” which was released in 1997 and received not only positive reviews, but also a great response by the public, earning more than $100 million in the box office. It has received amazing reviews such as one of the “Greatest Movies of all Time”. Ellroy described this movie as “the best thing that happened to me in my career that I had absolutely nothing to do with.”
Another notable adoptions included the less commercial successfully “Black Dahlia” which received mixed reviews from the critics. This movie had an hour removed from the final cut due to the negative reviews the own Ellroy gave to the producer. There were other books that were adapted to movies such as “The Blood on the Moon” which was adapted as the movie “Cop “, which Ellroy called a “disappointment”, and “Brown’s Requiem”, “Killer on the Road” and “Silent Terror”. However, besides the commercially successfully “L.A Confidential” Ellroy was usually disappointed by these adaptations. In 2009, he said “all movie adaptations of my books are dead”, and later in 2012 he went further by saying film studios can do whatever they want with his books as long as they pay him.
Today, Ellroy still has a legacy that continues to penetrate the American culture. With his well-known trilogies along with his essays he forever changed the crime fiction genre. Documentaries, movies, and even TV shows have emerged due to his works. Nowadays he is a worldwide known author that is still active and well known in different parts of the world other than United States. For instance, he is also well known in Europe, especially France.
Like many other authors who have made themselves a name in the literary industry, James Ellroy’s legacy will stand forever, not only due to his authorship prowess but also due o the fact that he overcame insurmountable odds to make a name for himself.
Book Series In Order » Authors » James Ellroy